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Really Ravishing Review (The Monstrumologist))

literati_rain66 Saturday, February 19, 2011 ,
The MonstrumologistReview of The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey.

Quickie: Not for the squeamish, but definitely good.

Full: Where to begin?? I suppose I'll start with the blurb on the front cover, since I think it most adequately describes the book: "A cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King." - VOYA. That little blurb right there tells you a lot about The Monstrumologist; it's dark, it's creepy, it's gory, and it's more than a little disturbing. But you can't stop reading it.

Will Henry has the unfortunate role of being apprentice to Dr. Warthrop, a man with a sinister calling. Will is a boy of a mere twelve years, orphaned and living with the only man who he's ever really known outside of his parents- the hermit and genius, Doctor Pellinore Warthrop, Monstrumologist. Dr. Warthrop is a seemingly cold, almost cruel man who is brisk and clipped with poor Will, always yelling at him to "Step lively" and get to work. Will is an obedient boy, and he does what the man says, even if it means getting no sleep and no food for days at a time. He does it all though, because the doctor is all he has, all he knows, and he has a inexplicable affection for the man. Not love, no, but something.

One night as the boy is sleeping in his tiny loft, a man comes calling in the night bearing a mysterious something wrapped in burlap in the back of his carriage. The man, Erasmus Gray, is worked up and asks for the doctor. He tells Dr. Warthrop that he has "an abomination" and "a crime" in that burlap, and it's urgent that the doctor take a look. You see, Erasmus Gray is a grave robber, and he's found something that has shocked and appalled even a man with such a morbid career. There's a body of a young girl, but she's not alone. Something is clinging to her... feeding off of her. Its appendages are wrapped about her body in a macabre embrace. Human, it's not, that much is clear. But what is it? A monster of course. Dr. Warthrop's speciality.

This unfortunate find leads Will and Dr. Warthrop on a spine-tingling, stomach-rolling adventure. Monsters are out there, and they must be found. Monsters aren't all that they find though, as the story unfolds, Dr. Warthrop uncovers secrets about his own family, and specifically, his own father. Will, too, discovers a few things about the doctor, and in turn, his own parents.

I don't know what I was expecting when I cracked open The Monstrumologist, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Immediately the tone of the book was set, not by the words, but by the book design. In the edition I have, there are little illustrations of historic medical supplies every few pages. Hooks and forceps and scissors and things I don't even know the names for. Along with the medical supplies were body parts, drawn like they would be in a textbook, with numbers and arrows. Old medicine creeps me out, so the illustrations totally worked for me. I was on edge before even starting. And then I started reading, and my apprehension grew. The prologue sets you up for the 'why' of the story, and then chapter one takes you back in time, to the Spring of 1888, where you meet young Will Henry and his horrific journey begins.

I'm not entirely sure I have anything bad to say about this book. I was sucked in from the start, and I was spit out dazed and a bit disturbed at the end, but pleasantly so. It's not for the overly squeamish, as Yancey doesn't give you rose-colored glasses when the monsters attack, but those who appreciate honesty and can deal with some blood, they'll eat it up.

5 out of 5 stars.


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