The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist, #1)

…for only a madman believes what every child knows to be true: There are monsters that lie in wait under our beds.

Let me start by saying that if you’re easily disgusted this is not the book for you. At all. There’s some serious gore going on here guys and my stomach doesn’t turn itself easily (I’m studying to be a biologist, so really, that would be a bad thing), so believe when I say this. There’s lots of blood and Yancey describes death with careful precision, perhaps even too much precision. Kind of like this:

As he spoke, the doctor tapped thin strips of flesh from the forceps into the metal tray, dark and stringy, like half-cured jerky, a piece of white material clinging to one of two of the strands, and I realized he wasn’t peeling off pieces of the monsters flesh: The flesh belonged to the face and neck of the girl.

And it gets worse as it goes. This sounded like an early teen’s book (or even children’s lit) when I picked it up, but since it’s so gory and disgusting I’m not exactly sure. That being said I can now get on with the review.

The Monstrumologist takes place at the late 1800s and is the written account of Will Henry’s time as a monstrumologist’s assistant, a man called Pellinore Warthrop. This is the first installment in the series and it covers Will’s first three ‘journals’, in which he and the Dr. Warthrop encounter a headless monster, Anthropophagus, living in their hometown’s cemetery and feeding off the corpses buried there. But Anthropophagus normally feed on living flesh and soon corpses won’t be good enough for them.

I really liked this book, despite the kind of meh reviews I’ve seen on Goodreads, and can’t wait to read the other two books in the series. I thought it was cleaver, with a nicely woven plot. I’m happy with the character development (though it’s not really a character driven book, I think) and thoroughly enjoyed the action scenes (bloody as they were). I also loved the illustrations it has on every other page, all medical tools of some sort drawn on the edges of the pages, like scissor and needles and things. It gave the book an even creepier feel.

I liked Will, I felt like he was very mature for his age (which is 12 by the way), since he had to basically take care of himself and help the doctor with his work. We get the clear message that he doesn’t like it, but he doesn’t go around whining about it or feeling sorry for himself. He was just a quiet little boy with a strange mentor.

He turned the severity of his countenance fully upon me, startling me from my semi-stupor, for suddenly I existed again. I was dead; I was reborn. I was forgotten, and in the blink of an eye – his eye – the world remembered me.

Warthrop, though, is an entirely different story. I didn’t care for him through most of the book, I just wanted to shake him and point out that Will Henry was right there if he’d just care to look, thank you very much. I like that we get to see why he’s relationship with Will is the way it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

I did not think the doctor was a monster that hunted monsters, but I was about to meet a man who did – and was.

My favorite character was probably the worst of the lot, so I can’t really complain about Warthrop. John Kearns (or whatever his name actually is) is cunning, cold and a murderer. He doesn’t care for any one’s life (not even his own) and will do anything to achieve his goals. He called people out on their hypocrisy and twisted morals a lot. I really wished we could see some of his past, because it must have been gruesome. And the plot twist in the end? Brilliant, Mr. Yancey. I hope he’ll show up in the other books (though I was cursing him through half of this one).

“We are very much like them: indiscriminate killers, ruled by drives little acknowledged and less understood, mindlessly territorial and murderously jealous – the only significant difference being that they have yet to master our expertise in hypocrisy, the gift of our superior intellect that enables us to slaughter one another in droves, more often than not under the auspices of an approving god!”

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