Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Title: The Monstrumologist
Series: The Monstrumologist, #1
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 22, 2009
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Horror
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


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?


Gothic horror at its purest, The Monstrumologist captivated and often horrified me. When an old grave robber discovers a dead monster with a half eaten girl, it marks the beginning of some truly nasty deaths in and around the town of New Jerusalem. Warthrop, the monstrumologist, and his twelve-year-old assistant, Will Henry, must unravel the origins of the nightmarish Anthropophagi in North America. Were these beasts meant to become a weapon or a science experiment?

Using monsters written about by historians and writers like Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Shakespeare, brings an enormous amount of credibility to this story. The accounts of twelve-year-old Will Henry, of the gruesome events in the town of New Jerusalem in 1888, is written down in a believable, gorily descriptive and thoroughly scary manner. 

I absolutely loved that the author wrote the whole book in the kind of prose that would have been used in the late nineteenth century. The main character, Will Henry, is well rounded and very realistic for a boy of twelve. Still mourning his dead parents, he does his best to please his guardian, or perhaps employer, dr. Warthrop. Whether Warthrop truly cares for the boy is only revealed much later in the book.

Although Warthrop gives the impression of being the typical crazy scientist, he shows remarkable clarity of mind and thought when lives are threatened. He is, however, not averse to sacrificing lives when there are no other choices.

The other brilliantly crafted major character, John Kearns, with his warped sense of humor, many names, and disgustingly cruel ways, is hinted to being a well-known historical villain.

Apart from the nonstop action in this book, the account of Anthropophagi destroying the crew of a slave ship had me biting my nails. Although none of the characters have extensive backstories, the bit given here is sufficient to make even the more dubious characters come to life.

A page turner in the true sense of the word, The Monstrumologist is an absolute must read for anybody who likes horror combined with an excellent, often profound, supporting storyline.

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Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.

Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, for young readers, and The Highly Effective Detective, for adults. Both books are set in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Rick lived for ten years before returning to Florida.

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