Review: The Final Descent by Rick Yancey

Genre: Fantasy Age Level: YA Series: The Monstrumolgist #4
Genre: Fantasy
Age Level: YA
Series: The Monstrumolgist #4

Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop have encountered many horrors together—but can Will endure a monstrumological terror without his mentor?

Will Henry has been through more that seems possible for a boy of fourteen. He’s been on the brink of death on more than one occasion, he has gazed into hell—and hell has stared back at him, and known his face.

Will Henry decides to act alone and secure a monster without the help of his mentor. This decision leads to a spiraling chain of events that can only end in death.

Over the course of one day, Will’s life—and Pellinor Warthrop’s destiny—will lie in balance. In the terrifying depths of the Monstrumarium, they will face a monster more terrible than any they could have imagined—and their fates will be decided.


“Time is a line
But we are circles.”

If you are squeamish then this is not the right series for you. These books are horrific and gory – so if you cannot handle stories of this nature, then do not read these books.

I have to say I expected a little more from this book, but I wasn’t completely disappointed either. Both the Curse of the Wendigo and the Isle of Blood are among my favourite books of 2013, so my expectations going into the conclusion were impossibly high.

All the Monstrumologist books are dark, but this one is dark in a different way. It is not really about the monsters anymore and is about human nature. I liked how the books were becoming more literary, but The Final Descent is too much about people and not enough about the monsters. It discusses humanity and the fine line between us and monsters. On the other hand, I liked the transition from actual monsters to human monsters and all the philosophical content so I’m torn.

The elder Will Henry is losing his mind and the writing reflects this brilliantly – the jumping and slightly confusing story lines, the bursts of poetry, the repetition, the scrambled thoughts, the surfacing memories. Sometimes it’s downright scary and at other times you need to pause and remember what’s going on. However, it comes out of nowhere. I’d have liked to see more of a transition from the last book into the final volumes.

Even the teenage Will Henry is very much darker and colder that the young boy he once was, though that little boy is still in there and you can catch glimpses of Will’s softer side now and then. Will is one of the most realistic characters ever because it is not a happily ever after type book. People do die, and others are irreversibly changed by the things they have seen. It is hard to me to think of Will Henry as someone who isn’t young and naive, not because that was my first impression of him, but because I don’t want to think of him as someone who you would be scared to cross.

His relationship with Warthrop is laid out for once and for all, though their feelings towards each other continue to remain complex. We learn about Will first meeting Warthrop and everything in between, right up until their final confrontation. Warthrop in a way blames himself for Will Henry’s descent into darkness, and constantly tries to teach him the value of human life. You could even say that Will Henry has become the ultimate monstrumologist, putting logic before all else – but the cost for this is extremely high.

The plot is less complex, but more convoluted  – if that makes any sense. Instead of a crazy hunt for monsters, its more of a battle with a gang. But, due to Will’s insanity it is hard to follow the story – in a good way.

The ending. I can see some people not liking it, but there was, in my opinion, no other possible ending for the story. It is disappointing but not the slightest bit surprising, because I knew from the beginning where the story was going if only I’d cared to admit it to myself.

The epilogue is perfection and I can’t believe there was a time when I disliked them. The last paragraph gives me chills but I cannot stop reading it.

A brilliant conclusion to a brilliant series and I cannot believe it’s over.

Human…I don’t know what that word means…Tell me what defines it. What sets it apart? Are you going to tell me its love? A crocodile will defend her brood to the death. Hope? A lion will stalk its prey for days. Faith? Who is to say what gods populate an orangutan’s imagination. We build? So do termites. We dream? House cats do that on the windowsill…We live in a shabby edifice…hastily erected over a span of ten thousand years, and we draw he flimsy curtains to hide the truth from ourselves.”

“If you define madness as the opposite of sane, you are forced into a definition of sanity. Can you define it? Can you tell me what it is to be sane? Is it to hold no beliefs that are contrary to reality? That our thoughts and actions contain no absurd contradictions. ..If that is your criterion, then we are all mad-except those of us who make no claim to understand the difference. Perhaps there is no difference, except in our own heads. In other words…madness is a wholly human malady borne in a brain too evolved – or not quite evolved enough – to bear the awful burden of its own existence.”

“It occurred to me. . .that aberrance is a wholly human construct. There were no such things as monsters outside the human mind. We are vain and arrogant, evolution’s highest achievement and most dismal failure, prisoners of our self-awareness and the illusion that we stand in the center, that there is us and then there is everything else but us. But we do not stand apart from or above or in the middle of anything. There is nothing apart, nothing above, and the middle is everywhere – and nowhere. We are no more beautiful and essential or magnificent than an earthworm. In fact – and dare we go there, you and I? – you could say the worm is morebeautiful, because it is innocent and we are not. The worm has no motive but to survive long enough to make baby worms. There is no betrayal, no cruelty, no envy, no lust, and no hatred in the worm’s heart, and so who are the monsters and which species shall we call aberrant?”

Other books in the series: 

The Monstrumolgist – Book 1

The Curse of the Wendigo – Book 2

The Isle of Blood – Book 3

final 1

final 2

Have you read this book? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!


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