Monday, February 15, 2010

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Definition of 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.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is the tale of Dr. Pellinore Warthrop and his assistant Will Henry. Will is an orphan under the care of Dr. Warthrop, a peculiar man who studies dangerous creatures and monsters. In the middle of the night in 1888, a nightmarish specimen is carted to the monstrumologist's home. Will can barely stand the sight of a half-eaten girl and an anthropuphagi, which is a vicious man-eating creature without a head. Will is forced to assist the intense doctor and is eventually led on a quest to find more of the creatures. Encased in this book are the three folios compiled by Will during their adventures.

Yancey, author of the memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector, has created quite a story here. It is as much about fear, perseverance and what we don't understand about our world, as it is about monsters with sharp teeth. Dr. Warthrop identifies fear as "the enemy" and relentlessly ignores the emotion, while Will is developing a healthy respect for fear. I'm glad to see this on some "best of" lists from 2009 because it is quite worthy of that distinction. This is a well-written, creepy read
in the vein of David Almond's Clay .

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

No wonder this won a Printz honor. Sounds really interesting - this one had a cover that actually made me uncomfortable, since it resembles an aborted fetus in solution.