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?
“There are times when fear is not our enemy. There are times when fear is our truest, sometimes only friend.”
Before I start my review I must issue a warning. If you are squeamish, then this book is not for you. It is bloody and violent and just downright gross at times. So if you can’t handle that stuff then I strongly recommend avoiding this book.
The Monstrumologist is undeniably my kind of book. Its is dark, creepy, gory, mysterious and just all kinds of awesome. Everything from the writing to the characters was nothing short of perfect; my only complaint, and this is not a big one, was the plot.
These Monsters are not the stupid kind that hide under your bed or in your closet. These monsters are smart and evolved and are rooted in mythology. The Anthropophagi are monsters referenced by Herodotus and Shakespeare and everyone else in between. Their prey is humans and there is very minuscule chance of escaping once they’ve set there sights on you.
I liked how they are presented not as enemies that need to be obliterated, but as another species who has lived along side humans and could have easily become the dominant species. They have their rituals and family lives; their own way of life. It is only when they begin killing in North America that it becomes necessary to seek them out and hunt them down.
I LOVED the writing because of the format- an auto-biography of sorts; the style – old fashioned and gorgeous; but mainly because of the narrator – Will Henry. Will Henry is the most perfect narrator ever. He is scared and sad and hopeless but never ceases to be brave. He is smart and sensitive too and I freaking love this kid. Obviously, because he is only twelve there is no romance in the story and I didn’t miss it one bit.
Dr. Warthrop. He is one of these characters that seemingly shut off from the world and all emotion. But behind all those, “Snap to, Will Henry!”‘s is a man who we see fleeting glimpses of. A man that doubts himself and is filled with anger and sadness. I suspect we will learn more about him in the following books and if so, I NEED to know more about him.
And guess when this book is set? London in the 1880s. We are treated to felt hats, horse drawn carriages, run down insane asylums, gas lamps and graveyards.
The plot is part mystery and part action. The action scenes were, as mentioned above gory, but also suspenseful. However connecting these scenes were periods of nothiness. So I’d be reading slowly turning pages, waiting for something to happen, then I’d zip through the next section, the world blurring out around me. Repeat cycle. Despite the slow parts, the story is still exciting and the book is hard to put down.
The prologue and epilogue are both set in the present day, with the author finding these old papers and I disliked them tremendously. My hatred of epilogues is returning…
I recommend this book to all fantasy fans both teen and adult. I cannot wait to read The Curse of the Wendigo as it looks just as awesome, if not more so!
“Memories can bring comfort to the old and infirm, but memories can also be implacable foes, a malicious army of temporal ghosts forever pillaging the long-sought-after peace of our twilight years.”
“Perhaps that is our doom, our human curse, to never really know one another. We erect edifices in our minds about the flimsy framework of word and deed, mere totems of the true person, who, like the gods to whom the temples were built, remains hidden. We understand our own construct; we know our own theory; we love our own fabrication. Still . . . does the artifice of our affection make our love any less real?”
“We often take vengeance long after the fact upon blameless surrogates, reprising the same sins of the ones who trespassed against us, and so perpetuate ad infinitum the pain we suffered at their hands.”
Check out the other book in The Monstrumologist series!
The Curse of the Wendigo – #2
The Isle of Blood – #3
The Final Descent – #4