Yes, my dear child, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.
I finished reading The Monstrumologist, and I have to say: Bravo, Mr. Yancey, for turning the bones-old premise of monsters under the bed and grave-digging and other such haunts into something I want to read in the modern day—with the lights off.
The Monstrumologist, part one in an ongoing YA series that escaped cancellation thanks to fan intervention, is fantastically gripping. Yancey has a natural knack for writing characters and forming meaningful connections between them, even if he does fall trap to spelling everything out for you (at least in the beginning) through the diary-recorded narration of the young Will James Henry, the monstrumologist’s assistant. But Yancey is quite clever at coming up with these psychological observations in the first place, and the sheer number of them makes the book rich and rewarding.
Also enjoyable is Yancey’s talent for describing the grotesque. It’s something to marvel at. The first chapter snares your attention for the rest of the book because the author takes his time in painting a very disgusting picture that gets increasingly impressive as more is revealed. In fact, while Yancey has undoubtedly learned from the old masters (H.P. Lovecraft, most notably), he certainly has a tenacious grasp of gross imagery that’s completely his own dark invention.
In the book, Will Henry and his mentor, the monstrumologist Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, investigate the emergence of man-eating Anthropophagi in New England. The early parts of the story are slow to develop, but the flavorful language is more than repayment, and the last third of the book peaks in pace and suspense. Yancey knows how to keep a reign on the easily overplayed nature of horror.
For me, the bane of books with sequels is that I know that I either want to continue on (either soon or someday) or never will. With The Monstrumologist series, it’s only a matter of time before I’m back solving gruesome mysteries alongside Will Henry and the doctor.
My favorite quote from the book (spoiler-free), which speaks well of its themes:
I knew what monsters were, to be sure—what child did not?—but, like all children, when I thought of monsters, I imagined horrible, malformed beasts characterized by a singular trait: their enormous size. But monsters, I now know, come in all shapes and sizes, and only their appetite for human flesh defines them.
Have you read The Monstrumologist series or any other books by Yancey? What did you think? (No spoilers, please!)
If you’re looking for more YA recommendations, blogger Miss Anderson put up a great list of starter books—perfect for people who don’t read YA and for grown-ups who hate YA.