Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Monstrumologist : Book Review

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
//Amazon//Barnes and Noble//The Book Depository//
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 Warthrop, 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 gruesome 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? 

Setting: The Monstrumologist takes place in 1888, in a New England town not all too far from my own. The setting is done is wonderful detail, and draws the reader in extremely well. Any disgusting elements of the story (and there are quite a few) are described eloquently, and in way that establishes a firm image and does miracles to create the mood, adding to the horror of the story, as a whole. 

Characters: Of everything else, the characters are probably the weakest element of the books, though I am loathe to say that, as they are still very good. If they lack in development, I would say that it is more due to the way the story is told, through reflection in a journal, more than a hundred years later. That said, I immediately fell in love with Doctor Pellinore Warthrop and Will Henry; both are flawed human beings, the doctor very much so. While Will's youth (he is only twelve) would usually annoy me, his naivety (that he slowly loses over the course of the book and the next two) sets him up as a strong contrast to the more cynical doctor; he is a loveable boy, overall. 

Plot: Oh, the plot is marvelous. It is suspenseful, avoiding the typical pitfalls of horror literature, as well as being realistic, despite the presence of "monsters". The story takes place over a short period, involving relatively few events, but is nonetheless compelling. Each plot development is logical and truly adds to the story, as well as setting up the theme of the story - if the term monster can truly be limited to creatures of aberrant biology. 

Writing: This is my favourite part - the actual writing. There are few words to describe the writing, other than that it does its best to reflect the period, while remaining understandable to teenagers and adults. The metaphors and descriptors used fall just short of perfect - Yancey rarely falls upon the cliche comparisons, but every one that is made is apt and brilliant. It has an artistic and somewhat poetical bent; if you're vocabulary isn't up to par, then you might find yourself struggling to follow along. 

Overall: 5 stars. I cannot recommended this highly enough, along with it's two sequels, with the exception that if you're looking for a short, easy read, this is not it at all. The horrors and secrets which fuel each book lead to an engaging plot, made all the better by the writing.


  1. Sounds like a good book! The funny thing my teacher mentioned this book in class, but discouraged us saying it was too gory. Nice review! Thanks for all of the information :)

  2. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I loved Legend -- did you?
    I see that your reviews really look into plot structure, which is great. Though you guys like scarier books than I do :)


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