Friday, August 12, 2011

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist is a young adult horror novel, and won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award. For those of you that do not know what a Monstrumologist is, it is a Cryptid hunter. If that doesn't help, this may not be the book for you. But in case you are still curious, a cryptid is a creature that hasn't been proven to exist such as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or El Chupacabra.

The story is set in the Northeastern United States in the April of 1888. It is the story of Pellinore Warthrop, a Monstrumologist, and Will Henry, his 12 year old orphaned charge and assistant.Warthop and Will Henry are tied together by circumstance. Will Henry's father was Warthop's assistant before his death. Will was orphaned in a fire, the events leading up to the fire are linked with his father's work for Warthop. The point that they are all each other has left in the world is hit home repeatedly, and pointedly. Both characters seem to be torn as to whether this is something that they are happy or miserable about. As with real world relationships, their's is a complicated one wound up in history, guilt, obligation, etc.

In case you need a visual
The adventure begins very quickly, with a stranger, Erasmus Grey, knocking on the door in the middle of the night bearing a monstrous load in his cart. He brings the corpse of a young girl entwined in the embrace of a monster, an Anthropophagi. Warthop is excited, while Will Henry is horrified (this is his first real experience with the darker side of his employer's work). Once Warthop has separated the pair, and completed his necropsy, Warthop has Grey lead them to the site of his discovery.

Warthop's approach is to always use logic when making a decision. This practice does not serve him well in this instance, and he quickly realizes that he and Will Henry are in over their heads. They retreat to do more research and call in some help. Things continue to spiral out of control as the story progresses.

The narrative is set up as a diary written by Will Henry in his later years as he reflects back on his life. We are seeing it through the eyes of a modern researcher who is reading the journals after his death, at 131 years old. I know that the found diary isn't a new story device, but Yancey does it well. Another thing Yancey does well is describe the horrific details of the monsters, their lair, and the deaths of their victims. My husband began reading this before me, and balked when I told him it was a young adult book because of the graphic nature of the narrative. It' not graphic to the point of making you nauseous, but he definitely utilizes the gross out factor. The language used by the characters also adds quiet a bit to the ambiance of the story, it seems quite authentic to the time period.

If you are a horror fan, I recommend this book, adults are included in this recommendation. I look forward to the sequel.

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