Archive for October 15th, 2009


Halloween Party: The Monstrumologist

The MonstrumologistIt’s time for another literary entry into the Halloween Party, the new novel by Rick Yancy, The Monstrumologist. Admittedly, it was the catchy title of this one that got my attention. Well… that and the fact that it was a Kindle special one day, so I downloaded it and started reading.

An old man dies, leaving behind no relatives or friends — just a set of diaries and the wild claims of being far older than he could possibly be. His diaries are passed into the hands of our narrator, and it is the contents of the first three diaries that makes up the bulk of the novel. The narrator (and the reader) are pulled into the story of a boy in the 1880s who finds himself the unwitting ward of a “Monstrumologist,” a scientist dedicated to the study (and eradication) of creatures mankind designates as monsters. Will Henry, the boy, isn’t with the Monstrumologist willingly, but has nowhere else to go after the tragic deaths of his parents. As a legion of headless, murderous creatures begins to terrorize the town of New Jerusalem, Will Henry and the Monstrumologist find themselves making odd alliances and placing their lives on the line to wipe out the monsters before it’s too late.

There’s a lot of good in this book. Yancy has created a really engaging pair of protagonists in Will Henry and Pellinore Walthrop, the Monstrumologist himself. The relationship between the two of them is very atypical for this type of book — they don’t forge the sort of pseudo father/son bond that many characters in these situations would develop. In fact, Will Henry (and by proxy, the reader) is often frightened of his master. His motivations and past are all called into question. It appears that this book is poised as the beginning of a series (based on the fact that the narrator, at the end, asks to keep reading Will Henry’s diaries) and there’s some nice foreshadowing. We only really get to see one type of monster in this book, and if there’s a whole science behind it, there’s bound to be more. Yancy even manages to create a modicum of doubt in the reader. Usually, the assumption in a book of this sort is that the wild tales of the old man are gospel truth, but Yancy manages to leave us questioning at the end whether what we’ve read is the true life story of Will Henry or just the wild ravings of an old man.

The book has some slow moments, and probably a few too many of them, including a lot of moments of woolgathering for the main characters I could have done without. The idea behind the book, though, is wonderful, and the execution is strong. This is a nice little tale of terror to take you through October.

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