Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Monstrumologist

by Richard Yancey
May 9 2012

I needed something to read on my lunch break, this was sitting on a cart next to the elevator and so I started reading The Monstrumologist.
Kind of funny that I'd chose this one to read during lunch. The photo on the cover is only a hint of the blood to be found inside.

Anyone that's weak of stomach or scared of blood shouldn't read this, although, I don't think that it's gratuitously bloody.  We are talking about man-eating monsters, after all.

I wouldn't call this a gory book. There's too many other things happening in the story to categorize it that way. And while it could be called a horror novel, I hate to put it in that category. It's not quite science fiction. It is an adventure novel. It has horror elements. And it's set in the 19th Century. How much better can it get?

Monstrumology:1: the study of life forms generally malevolent to humans and not recognized by science as actual organisms, specifically those considered products of myth and folklore.
2: the hunting of such creatures.
 In the present day (mid 2000s) the director of a nursing home gives a writer (Yancey) the journals of a deceased resident in hopes that some clue to living family or friends can be found..  The dead man, William James Henry, had claimed to have been born in 1878.   He had no one to speak of and, in fact, he didn't speak of his life.  He had been found injured and brought to the nursing home where he spent the rest of his days.  The journals were discovered under Will Henry's bed and revealed a story that isn't to be believed.  That story is the basis of this book.

When he was only a boy of 12 he was taken in by Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, noted scientist and philosopher. Will Henry's father had been Walthrop's assistant until his and his wife's untimely death.  Will is no more than a convenient (or inconvenient, depending upon the day and Warthop's mood) assistant.  One night a local grave robber brings to Dr. Warthrop something horrible.  And that's where the adventure begins.  Warthrop and Will Henry attempt to unravel the mysterious existence of a colony of Anthropophagi, a beast written of by Shakespeare, Herodotus, Pliny the Elder.  They have no heads. Their eyes are on their shoulders and their mouths are in their midsections.  They are incredibly strong and can leap great distances.  A formidable enemy.

How a colony of beasts native to the continent of Africa got to New England is what Dr. Warthop wants to find out.  Stopping the beasts from killing is what others want.  Will Henry, the young assistant, is stuck in the  middle of the nightmare.

Along the way Warthrop and Will Henry struggle with their own personal monsters and learn that monsters come in many forms.

I loved this book. I didn't mind the bloody scenes  involving the monsters. The mystery and adventure of the monster hunt and the 19th Century setting captured me immediately. To me the characters were interesting and not the superficial characters you'd expect to find populating a monster story.
I finished reading The Monstrumologist at about 1:00 am.  After a good night's sleep and a few chores, I picked up the second book in the series,  The Curse of the Wendigo.

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