“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.”
–The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (p.3)
Welcome to the first November book review! Time seriously flies when blogging. I hope time will keep flying as I review more books. Today, I’m going to review a book that I was planning as my Halloween special. It’s Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist.
I learned about The Monstrumologist by chance: Rick Yancey was speaking at my school. If I hadn’t finished my Art project, I would not be reviewing this book! It was great to hear Yancey speak, he was funny and great at speaking to crowds. He even managed to answer some of the audience’s questions – including the one I had. The experience was wonderful and I’m so thankful I attended.
Nice cover. It clearly portrays the “spookiness” of The Monstrumologist. Besides, it is a horror novel. This book isn’t recommended for easily spooked people or people who hate gore with a passion. The Monstrumologist has both, and to a great amount. I myself wasn’t scared by the book, but I do have tolerance for scary things.
Story: The story begins in 1888 with the narrator, a young boy named Will Henry, recalling a night working with Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, who lives with Will Henry, when a caller arrives at their house. The caller turns out to be an old man, named Erasmus, in distress. He is wearing dirty, ripping clothes and he confesses that a terrible crime happened as he was robbing a grave. The doctor promises not to turn him over to authorities and invites him in the house for a soothing cup of tea.
Erasmus slowly tells about how, as he was grave-robbing, the unspeakable crime occurred. He appears to have a bundle for the doctor. Erasmus slowly grows calm and even dares to ask what kind of work the doctor does. Will Henry simply replies he works in philosophy and the doctor pays Erasmus a sum of money to keep quiet about being inside the house and in return, both Will Henry and the doctor will not tell of Erasmus’s grave-robbing. Erasmus agrees and leaves. The doctor tells Will Henry to lock the door and they start to work in the basement.
The doctor is no ordinary doctor. He is a monstrumologist, one who works with grotesque and odd creatures. Will Henry is his assistant ever since his own parents died. The doctor slowly cuts away to burlap of the bundle to reveal a frightening sight. A young girl, dead, has half her face missing. Her burial gown is stained with blood. On top of her, a large animal, almost human like, but it has no head. The doctor concludes that the young girl’s attacker was an Anthropophagi, a predatory animal whose main prey is humans.
The doctor is confused, Anthropophagi are only native to Africa. He dissects the Anthropophagus and finds the cause of death to be from trying to swallow a necklace. As he dissects further, the doctor makes another unexpected discovery. An infant Anthropophagus is found inside the girl’s flesh. The doctor snaps at Will Henry to quickly get a jar, then drops the infant inside. For a moment, the lid is closed and the tiny Anthropophagus claws the jab with razor sharp claws. The doctor drops a cotton ball with halothane and alcohol. The Anthropophagus attacks the cotton ball and swallows the cotton from the mouth found in its stomach. In a matter of minutes, it dies.
The doctor and Will Henry are confronted by a mystery, how did the Antropophagi get into North America? They need to find the answer quickly because the doctor suspects their hometown, New Jerusalem, MA, will soon be overcome with an Anthropophagi infestation. The doctor and Will Henry set off to find clues helping them to explain how they got there and how to get rid of them.
My opinion: Four stars! Rick Yancey does an excellent job with making the book sound like it was written in 1888! The descriptions were also accurate year wise, along with terms the people say.
My favorite character is the doctor! The best thing about him is his hidden kindness toward Will Henry. The doctor does treat Will Henry like a servant, constantly telling him to preform chores. Yet, he took Will Henry as his assistant when both his parents died and taught him the skills of monstrumology. Dr. Warthrop can he hated and loved, which makes him one of the complexest characters I ever read about.
The gore is, well, gory. The young girl at the beginning was slowly being eaten by an Antropophagus. The gore does escalate as the book goes on. It isn’t meaningless, which is good, but it can be a tiny bit unnerving at times. For this reason, the book gains yet loses a star. By the way, I won’t give too much away, but the gore isn’t always blood. It’s other things too.
Overall, I love this book. It’s a good read that would please anyone daring enough to read it. I love the detail and the charming Victorian-age setting. The Monstrumologist is part of a series, so I can’t wait to read the sequel!
Want more? Rick Yancey’s web site has more information of The Monstrumologist and his other series, Alfred Kropp. There are character profiles on characters in The Monstrumologist plus a very cool book trailer, which I think is pretty cool. Birdbrain(ed)Book Blog and The Book Smugglers also reviewed The Monstrumologist. Check them out, though they may have spoilers for those reading or planning to read the book.
Happy November. Can’t wait for the ultimate pig-out that is Thanksgiving. Bye everyone!