Author: Rock Yancey
*NOTE: I don't do spoilers, so my review is purely opinion. Check the summary I posted for specific details about the book.
With a roaring sense of adventure and enough viscera to gag the hardiest of gore hounds, Yancey’s series starter might just be the best horror novel of the year. Will Henry is the 12-year-old apprentice to Pellinore Warthrop, a brilliant and self-absorbed monstrumologist--a scientist who studies (and when necessary, kills) monsters in late-1800s New England. The newest threat is the Anthropophagi, a pack of headless, shark-toothed bipeds, one of whom’s corpse is delivered to Warthrop’s lab courtesy of a grave robber. As the action moves from the dissecting table to the cemetery to an asylum to underground catacombs, Yancey keeps the shocks frequent and shrouded in a splattery miasma of blood, bone, pus, and maggots. The industrial-era setting is populated with leering, Dickensian characters, most notably the loathsome monster hunter hired by Warthrop to enact the highly effective “Maori Protocol” method of slaughter. Yancey’s prose is stentorian and wordy, but it weaves a world that possesses a Lovecraftian logic and hints at its own deeply satisfying mythos. Most effective of all, however, is the weirdly tender relationship between the quiet, respectful boy and his strict, Darwinesque father figure. “Snap to!” is Warthrop’s continued demand of Will, but readers will need no such needling.
Easily the best book I've read this year, The Monstrumologist is everything I've felt YA lit to be lacking: fast-paced, character driven, and a convincing protagonist. Imagine that! Unlike a few of the, ahem, more popular YA books floating around, there was never a single moment that I wanted to chuck the book against the nearest wall and scream. Will Henry, the 12 year old apprentice, is real. Overly perfect/irritating/unconvincing narrators in any sort of first person fiction has always been a huge pet peeve of mine. I stay away from that pov. But From the very first sentence, I was hooked.
But what really stood out about the book, excellent writing aside, was the relationship between Will Henry and Doctor Warthrop. It was complicated, and a lot of the time I wanted so desperately to hate the man for treating the boy the way he did, but I just couldn't. For every single spat between them, Yancey picked up the thread and ran with it. No loose ends, everything had a purpose. Through Will Henry, it was easy to see the reason behind the doctor's actions. Personally, I found it easier to relate to the doctor than Will Henry, though I can't say that a lot of people would agree.
And as a bonus? Just wait until the doctor's old 'friend' shows up. Just wait.
VERDICT: Get this book now! 5/5