Reviewed by Ambrea
Written from the perspective of William Henry, a young orphan who has found himself under the curious care of Dr. Pellinore Walthrop, The Monstrumologist recounts the childhood memories of Will Henry as he becomes enveloped by his guardian’s macabre occupation. For in the small town of New Jerusalem, a frightening creature has arisen from the depths of the earth to devour human flesh. Called “anthropophagi,” these creatures have a nightmarish appearance and a terrifying appetite—and only one man can successfully hunt them and stop them.
But that begs the question of which is more fiendish: the monster, or the man who hunts them?
Rick Yancey’s novel is a finely detailed and ripe with vivid language, stunning characters, and wonderful scenes that depict an astonishing—if horrifying—story. Yancey manages to combine all the right elements of horror to create a thrilling story that kept me glued to the edge of my seat; however, it remains mild enough that it didn’t give me nightmares for weeks on end. (I’m looking at you, Stephen King.)
I loved reading Will Henry’s account. For such a young man, he’s thoughtful and insightful, and he’s very much a sympathetic character. His story is an intriguing one, and I was fascinated to learn more about his life and his—well, I wouldn’t call them “adventures.” They’re nightmarish enough to be called “ordeals,” ones that will change him in unexpected and increasingly tragic ways.
One of the things I really liked about The Monstrumologist was Yancey’s tendency to focus on forgotten or little-known monsters, or, better yet, “cryptids”—creatures that are rumored to exist—like the anthropophagi, or the wendigo, or Mongolian death worm. I like fantasy novels and I’m always curious about unusual folklore, monsters or deities, so it was interesting to read about things that had never crossed my path.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Monstrumologist. It has its drawbacks: gore, danger, monsters—the stuff of nightmares. But it’s an enjoyable book and I really liked the narrator. I realize he’s unreliable, in that I know he’s missing information or he’s not always telling the full truth; however, he provides a unique perspective on the people and the creatures, namely the monstrumologists and the monsters they study. I highly recommend diving into it if you’re looking for something a little spookier.
The series continues with three more novels:
Curse of the Wendigo
The Isle of Blood
The Final Descent