Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Monstrumologist

Yancey, Rick.  The Monstrumologist:  William James Henry. NewYork: Simon & Schuster: BFYR, 2009.  ISBN: 9781439152614.  $21.99.
(Image Credit: Cape May County Library)

monstrumology n.
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 act of hunting such creatures*

*(Yancey, Rick.  The Monstumologist:  William James Henry, 2009:

What if there was truth in the childhood belief that there monsters underneath your bed and things that go bump in the night?  The kind of creatures that only come out in the darkness to violently feed off the living, the human race.

When the journals of William James Henry, a man who claimed to be 136-years-old, are discovered, their pages reveal a dark tale.  Will Henry was once the assistant to Pellinore Warthrop, a monstrumologist.  He knows the doctor studies bizarre and mysterious creatures, but it's not until there is a knock on the door late in night, when Will soon learns how the world is a dark, dangerous, and deadly place.

Anthropophagi are thought to be monsters of myth and folklore.  When a local graverobber brings Dr. Winthrop something he discovered in the local cemetery, it becomes painfully obvious that these nocturnal creatures exist and they hunt humans.  They are unlike any other documented animal.  The stand at least seven-feet-tall.  Although, human-like in appearance, they have no head.  Their eyes are in their shoulders.  They have a large, vicious mouth in their torso, with equally sharp claws.  From a scientific-point-of-view, they are a perfectly engineered human killing machine.

But how did a creature native to the African plains, end up in 19th century New England?  As Will Henry follows and assists the montrumologist in his quest to reveal the truth of their existence in a new country, he also learns about the lies and secrets that the ones closest to us may carry.  Are Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry able to uncover the truth before the Anthropophagi feed again, or are they a beast that has evolved to overtake man with its insatiable appetite for human flesh?

This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while.  It is an engrossing tale, with gripping descriptions that haunt the mind, well after the book is finished.  It is not a read for the squeamish, but if you are looking for a tale that evokes horror, repulsion, curiosity, adventure, and suspense, then I highly recommend this work.  --Melissa Brisbin, Librarian

2010 The Michael L. Printz Honor Award Winner for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
Booklist Star-Reviewed Best Horror Novel.
ALA Best Books for Young Adults.