Monday, October 11, 2010
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The story is told by an orphan boy, Will Henry, who is the apprentice to Erasmus Grey, a monstrumologist, or scientist who studies monsters. Erasmus Grey is clearly mad, obsessed and manic in his behavior seeking out monsters.
This novel focuses on the legendary anthroposophai, headless bipeds with rows of sharklike teeth in their stomachs. What makes the monsters frightening actions endurable is the cold clinical scientific detachment that stems from Erasmus Grey; brains eaten, bodies ripped to shreds in frenzy, and children killed. What would drive most other people mad fascinates and repels the monstrumologist.
The heros of the story are as dark as the creatures they are hunting. We get an excellent description of nihilism, and being truly beyond good or evil when we meet the hunter Kearns.
The creatures are pulled directly out of Greek and African mythology. The author adds a kind of natural history to the creatures with travelers accounts, bits of strange natural history, and inexplicabe deaths found in the newspapers.
This books writing is superb. It combines modern psychological suspense with the old fashioned fear of ghost stories, classic horror, and strange cryptozoological accounts. It is not overbearing, or overly gross and would be appropriate for both teenagers and adults.
The book won the Michael L. Printz Honor, YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, Booklist Editors' Choice For Youth, Kids' Indie Next List, and Florida Books Award, Silver Medal.
The story is gripping. It makes me want to read the next book in the series, The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist) by Rick Yancey.