author: Rick Yancey
length: 464 pages
Will Henry is the 12 year-old apprentice to self-absorbed Pellinore Warthrop. Set in a fictional town in late 1800s New England, Warthrop is a self-proclaimed “doctor” of monstrumology – he dissects, obsesses over and, if necessary kills, the monsters he studies. The most recent subjects are the Anthropophagi – headless, man-like creatures with a shark-toothed mouth in their abdomens. Will Henry assists with the dissection of a dead specimen and is then sucked into the adventure that takes readers from the basement laboratory through the quaint local cemetery with a side-trip to a nearby insane asylum. Ultimately hiring a despicably charming monster hunter to help eradicate the Anthropophagi infestation, the action is non-stop from the moment the grave robber brings the canvas body bag to the back door. Yancey has written a fantastic horror novel packed with pus, putrefaction and enough maggots to give even the most seasoned gore fan a moment of pause. Although a bit wordy at times, veterans and neophytes of the horror genre alike will keep turning the pages.
This book would work well to bridge readers to the gothic genre. It could be used as a good introduction to short stories by Faulkner, Poe, or Gilman. It would even work to interest readers in more modern gothic writers like O’Connor or Salinger. If used as part of a whole class lesson on gothic or horror writing, I would use passages rather than the entire text. If using the book in literature circles, this book will probably attract more capable readers. The length of the book and the complexity of the language might turn off reluctant readers and intimidate and frustrate struggling readers. However, the world Yancey has created and the action-packed plot could be enough of a lure to make less experienced readers stick with it. The Monstrumologist could also be used as a great example of detailed, descriptive writing. There are plenty of gag-inducing descriptions of the Antrhopophagi’s kills to turn even the steeliest of stomachs. This book is a “Show, Not Tell” supporter’s gold mine.
Yancey’s book is perfect for the reader who is not interested in “normal” and those readers with an interest in the dark and disturbing will be immediately hooked.
Readers who enjoy this book might also like: The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, or Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.