Friday, January 1, 2010

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

"These are the secrets that 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 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 visitors, 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 chase yet.

Way back in October, Stephanie of Misfit Salon wrote such a wonderful review of this book that when she held a contest to win it, I jumped at the chance. Well lucky me, I won. With the busy holiday schedule I hadn't a lot of time to read it, but when I got the chance I loved every second of it. I had only finished this a few days ago and I'm still playing back, in my head, of few of the more gruesome scenes.

This was the book I wish had been out when I was growing up and reading Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz books. This was the darker, edgier story I wanted to read about a boy my age in a situation I would never want to be in. When Will's parents die in a horrible house fire, his father's employer takes him into his home. Dr. Warthrop is a cantankerous, selfish man who wants and demands Will's ever minute of every day. Will cooks, cleans, watches over him, and helps with all his experiments. Now this description may sound bad, but somehow the author makes you like Dr. Warthrop and see that he truly cares about Will.

This story is told in a journal format that is found once Will dies of old age. Now normally, I'm not a big fan of this type of storytelling and have really enjoyed only a few examples of it, The Historian and Dracula being two of those. It works for me this time simply based of how Will's voice comes across as real. This is the voice of a young man who has had his entire life turned upside down. The voice of a boy who is being forced to grow up way to quickly and deal with things that child should ever have to deal with. You feel his pain and his fear, you wish you could help him and tell him that everything will be OK. This method makes Will all that much more real to me and I thank the author for choosing it.

This is the first book in a series and it had a few reoccurring themes throughout the book. The most obvious being the monster themselves. A classical mythological monster is the star of this book and I now know more about Anthropophagi, then I ever did in mythology classes. The cuddly monsters are headless, humanoid being who's eyes are in their shoulders and have a massive mouth with thousands of razor sharp teethe right in the middle of their chest. They are born to feed off humans and boy can they do that well.

For me, the second theme that I found running threw the entire book was about secrets, more importantly how secrets from the past can change everything. What you don't know about your father, can hurt you in this book. What your family did in the past, can kill those in the present without anyone any wiser to the causes. This book doesn't let secrets stay buried for long and it uses those same secrets to flesh out the characters and make them all the more likable.

The third item I took away from this book is how the definition of monster can change pretty quickly. How a character can be likable at first then quickly change into someone that you no longer know and scares you to death, is the author's way of pointing out that not all monsters look different from what we seen in the mirror everyday. That monsters don't have to have a grotesque image to scare you down to the bones.

I highly recomend this book to all fans of YA and urban fantasy/horror. If you are dissapointed I will buy you lunch at McDonald's.


Zia said...

Great review. I've seen this one around. Will have to check it out now.

Anonymous said...

Wiiiillll Henryyyyyy! is still echoing in my mind. How about yours?

I cannot wait for the next book; somehow I know it's going to involve...Jack the Ripper? I'm calling it!

Susan @ Blackberry Creek said...

Ignore my request for info on this book, Ryan. I had not looked far enough on your blog. I'm definitely going to read it. Thanks.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Lunch at McDees!?! I may have to take you up on that challenge. lol. Sounds like you really enjoyed this one. I may have to look into it, if you liked it that much. Thanks for the great review!

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Awesome review...I really want to read this even more now!

But darn! I know I won't get lunch at McDonald's...LOL!

Anonymous said...

Now your review makes me wish I'd kept this book in my hands when I had it there! I might just have to hop in the car tonight and hope it's still there...

christa @ mental foodie said...

I don't typically read horror/urban fantasy but now I am intrigued!