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Cher-y-lynne {sher-uhl-lin} –noun 1. One who formerly sold and recommended children’s books at a bookstore; a specialist in young adult, middle grade, and picture books. 2. A para-educator at a middle school. 3. A struggling young adult writer. 4. A lover of chocolate and popcorn. Archaic: An Audiology and Speech Language Pathology major at Brigham Young University. Questions? Suggestions? Books you'd like me to review? E-mail me at cherylynne1 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a blog for my ranting, raving, and occasionally brilliant opinions. You have been warned. Enter at your own risk.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Book Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Yancey, Rick. The Monstrumologist. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

"Why are you here, boy?" he asked suddenly, giving my shoulder a hard squeeze. "This is no business for children."

"My parents died in a fire, sir," I answered. "The doctor took me in."

"The doctor," Erasmus echoed. "They call him that — but what exactly is he a doctor of?"

The grotesque, I might have answered. The bizarre. The unspeakable. Instead I gave the same answer the doctor had given me when I'd asked him not long after my arrival at the house on Harrington Lane. "Philosophy," I said with little conviction.

When Will Henry takes his father's place as apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Winthrop, he soon realizes the job entails more than just staying up late with the lonely doctor and fetching tools or making meals. It's a job that may require him to risk his own life in order to protect the entire New England coast.

This book will be a huge hit with the teens that enjoy the macabre. Dark, and tons of violence. If you get squeamish at the thought of blood, this is not the book for you. The writing is excellent, as well as the monsters, who go by the name of Anthropophagi. The Anthropophagi are man-eating, headless monstrosities that can crush a human skull between their hands--and often do. Luckily, there's a very good reason for them being where our protagonists just happen to be. Plot and character development are solid. It's definitely a step out of the ordinary teen books we've been seeing lately. Even though there are monsters, we get to hate them the way we were meant to, and there is zero romance.

Some parts do drag, just a little. We're supposed to be reading a diary, but I didn't get that "in the head of the character" feeling that I usually get with diary novels. It was much more narrative than it should have been. Well-written narrative? Absolutely. But not as gripping as it could have been. And yes, it's predictable, but that's because we always know that good triumphs over evil in horror stories (unless you're Stephen King, in which everyone usually ends up miserable in some way or another) and we know that Will has to survive because we saw him as an old man in the beginning of the book. Still, well worth reading if you want to be creeped out.

And feel free to celebrate, horror lovers, because this is the first in a series. Let's hope this is the novel that reawakens a love of horror stories, like the good old days when Stephen King, Lois Duncan and R.L. Stine were at the top of their game.


  1. I'm totally in love with those monsters. Headless silhouettes! *shudder* What's your favorite part?

  2. The gutting and tossing of a living prostitute into the center of the anthropophagi murder pit: confirmation that Jack Kearns lives on a completely different morality scale than anyone else, the solidification of what I think will end up being the most compelling or at least interesting anti-hero since John Constantine. Two things made me grateful that this was going to be an ongoing series: The beginning acknowledgement that Will Henry had kept many, many portfolios worth of content that can reveal his connection to his father's fate in more detail, and the Lost-sized mystery and development of Kearns. I can't wait to see him again. Have you read the Alfred Kropp books? I kept waiting for Kearns to put on a Cubs hat.

  3. I haven't read the Alfred Kropp books, but they're definitely on my list. Yes, Jack Kearns was definitely a fascinating character, though I'm not completely sure I can say I liked him. However, that's true of a lot of people in the real world, so at least it proves he's realistic. I'm also really interested in the father's story...the little that we learned about him was really interesting. I think the thing I liked most was how the doctor was under the burden of genius. The way a genius' mind works is always fascinating to me.