Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: March 4th 2010
Series: The Monstrumologist #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
These are the secrets 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 the one who cursed me.
So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe, 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 visitor, 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 case yet.
A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?
I think that if someone *looks suspiciously at Rick Yancey* had cut open my brain, analyzed it to find out what I like to read about the most, and then subsequently written a book abut it, he could not have done a better job. The Monstrumologist is set at the end of the nineteenth century in the real world, but there are (as the name suggests) monsters!
I have heard this book described as a “gothic horror”, but I would be more inclined to describe it as historical urban fantasy (which might not even be a thing, but whatever). That said, I am not very good at recognizing when a movie or book is supposed to scare me, so it might be horror and I just didn’t notice. Are horror books supposed to scare you? I just asked Google and it said they are. I didn’t find this book scary, but don’t come and kill me in my sleep if you do.
Alright, now that that’s settled, time for characters. The narrator, Will Henry, is a twelve-year-old orphan (of course, right?) who lives with and works for the eponymous Monstrumologist. Will Henry is more of an observer of character than someone with much of his own distinctive characterization (which is to say, he is a seemingly normal, if not strangely well behaved twelve-year-old boy), though I suspect that might change as he ages throughout the rest of the series.
The Monstrumologist, on the other hand, is almost as weird as they get. He is absolutely terrible with people, which is both entertaining and sad, and he is completely devoted to his work to the point at which he forgets to eat or sleep. Something I really liked about his character arc was how Yancey shows us that he really is a good man despite his idiosyncrasies by juxtaposing him against other, very similar characters that are not good men.
As for the monsters themselves, they are basically headless primates that like to eat humans. And if that doesn’t sound cool to you, then go away.
Another little thing that I really liked was the prologue and epilogue– they are told from the perspective of a fictitious, modern day Rick Yancey who has found Will Henry’s journals after his death and is investigating them. I thought that it really tied the whole book together and was a nice touch.
One little thing that frustrated me after a while was the sheer amount of vocabulary– I consider myself to have a fairly good one, but I had to look up a word on nearly every page. In a sense that is a good thing, but after a while it gets tiresome to stop reading every other page to look up a word.
Overall though, I loved this book. It is written well, the plot and characters are interesting, and as a bonus there is absolutely no romance (I know some people like their books to have romance, but I am not one of those people).