Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Monstrumologist

Rick Yancey

For Halloween this year, I wanted to read something really scary.  Not just something with monsters from the Dark Romance section, but something with real elements of horror.  I picked The Monstrumologist, because I've heard good things about it, and it was a Michael L. Printz Award honor book, as well as an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalist, so it's been recognized as one of the best young adult books from this past year.  And I wasn't disappointed.  Right from the get-go, it's apparent that this is good writing.  Yancey cares that this book is written well and really crafts characters that instantly become kind of classic voices in this universe.  The story takes place in 1888 in a world where monsters exist in the shadows of society.  Will Henry is a young orphaned boy who comes into the care of a monstrumologist when his parents die, learning the trade from an eccentric doctor.  The world that Will Henry is thrown into is brutal, harsh and violent.  And it certainly contains moments of horror.  Much of the horror takes place in flashbacks as people are interviewed about the creatures that this book centers around, but it all builds toward an epic battle in which the headless Anthropophagi (with roots in several places in literature, as is referenced at the beginning of this book) are confronted by Will Henry and a team of men that must hunt them down.  The parties involved in this book all have differing opinions on the subject of monsters, and argue about their philosophies quite a bit, but I like how the Anthropophagi are pretty much explained as being natural beasts in the wild, like any animal, only more brutal.  It makes their nightmarish behavior even more scary somehow.  Yancey has a knack for describing the events of this book in splendidly gory detail in a story that is action-packed and terrifying, but with flawed characters that are very human, each plagued by their own personal demons.

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