Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mad Scientists and Old Hats: My Review of Rick Yancey's "The Monstrumologist"

Inside these pleasant cottages lamps warmly glowed, and I imagined the families ensconced inside,
 in the warmth of one another’s company, partaking of the normal intercourse of a Tuesday night,
Father by the fire, Mother with her young, with no worrisome thoughts of monsters lurking in the
dark except in the minds of the most imaginative of their children. The man riding beside
me suffered not from the naïve illusions of well-meaning parents who, with calm voice and
gentle touch, extinguished the bright hot embers of a child’s fiery imagination.
He knew the truth. Yes, my dear child, he would undoubtedly tell a terrified toddler
tremulously seeking succor, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.

The Monstrumologist, Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept.
This is the trust I never betrayed.
But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets.
The one who saved me...and the one who cursed me.

So begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore War throp, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a grueso me find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

Critically acclaimed author Rick Yancey has written a gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does a man become the very thing he hunts?

          I had read a lot about this book around the Blogosphere – everyone seems to have an opinion (and a good one at that) over this series. And I have to say, I share that opinion: this book was fast –paced and rousing, the narrator both a twelve year old boy, and his ancient self – the story told both from the past and the present in that way that only a good memoire can achieve.

          Set in New England, the story follows William Henry – a twelve year old orphan boy who lives now with his Father’s former boss, one Dr. Pellinore Warthrope – a  Monstrumologist. The story is told by Will Henry through his memoirs, uncovered after his death and read to peiece together whether or not there was anything to his life. The investigator, our modern voice, is a novelist who is pulled into Will Henry’s journals without realizing, only bookstopping the narrative in the prologue and the epilogue. It’s the meat between those ends that really shines.

          See, a Monstrumologist is one who studies … Monsters. Essentially. And Warthrope is knee deep in monsters when the grave digger knocks on his door late one night – a strange tale to tell of corpses defiled. Warthrope instantly knows what they are dealing with – the Androphogi – a headless creature with eyes in its shoulders, an appetite for flesh and nocturnal hunting habits that has somehow arrived on the shores of New England without invitation.

          Half scientific investigation, half monster hunt, the book follows the doctor and his apprentice, and various allies, as they struggle to get to the monsters and eliminate them.
          While this is all true, the part that pulled me in was the relationship between the doctor and Will Henry. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what that relationship is, but their interactions are both familiar and tense, and their conversations have a knack for saying more with glances then words. It is a very fascinating thing to read.

          Cannot wait to read the second and third books!

Up next for Review: The Reapers are the Angels by Aldan Bell

Read if you Liked:
  • The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling


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