Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Book of Monster Proportions

The Monstrumologist
Can you imagine living with a mad scientist? Now imagine living with a mad scientist who studies Monstrumology! That is the life of Will Henry, the young apprentice of Pellinore Warthrop, Monstrumologist of New England. Rick Yancy's first novel in this spunky series, The Monstrumologist, is a great first novel to a fun and intriguing trilogy.

Will Henry isn't exactly happy to live with Dr. Warthrop, but he doesn't have any choice since his parents died in a horrible fire that burned their house. He knows Warthrop has a strange profession, but he doesn't know the extent of his studies until a grave robber brings a horrifying fond to the doctor's doorstep- a young corpse found alongside a large creature that had obviously been feeding on her before it died suddenly. The doctor explained it was an Anthropophagi, a creature that originated from Africa and solely hunts humans. They can be up to 7 feet tall, appear to be headless, have mouths full of thousands of shark-like teeth in their abdomen, and can only be stopped with a brain shot- which is right below their mouths. Did I mention they were vicious and territorial human eaters?

After dissecting the specimen the grave robber gave him, Warthrop convinces him to go to the cemetery looking for the remaining few creatures. When they get there, though, they had clearly underestimated the size of the group and are rushed by 30 or so creatures that wanted nothing more than to eat them. Barely escaping with their lives (the grave robber wasn't quite so lucky), they try to figure out how such a large family group got there without any attacks in the area. Warthrop is concerned his own Mosntrumologist father may have had something to do with their presence there since he studied the Anthropophagi up until his recent death.

When a local family is attacked, all torn apart and mutilated, the local police come to fetch Warthrop and Will Henry for help, knowing they are the only ones who might explain the brutal murders. They arrive to find one lone survivor, a boy so traumatized all he can think about is killing what was responsible for killing his family, even Warthrop when it is revealed he knew about their presence in the town. Now the local law enforcement needs Warthrop's help in trying to get rid of the monsters, even if that means calling in a hunter who has less than ethical means of doing his job. But how far will they all go to get rid of the monsters? How did such a large group get to New England in the first place? Can Will Henry survive the Anthropophagi?

This book wasn't what I expected at first, but I really liked it! It started off a little confusing for the first few pages, but then it grabbed a hold of me and I couldn't put it down! It is a long book, but it feels short because the story is so sordid and engrossing. Will Henry is an interesting character, as he deals with Warthrop's eccentricities with such aplomb. Warthrop is your typical mad scientist who seems almost surprised with Will Henry and his basic needs. They oddly work well together, making a strange dynamic little team to conquer the ugly beastlies of the world.

I think this is a great book for a wide range of readers. Some of the monster encounters are bloody and gory, but most kids encounter worse on regular television or video games- it isn't gratuitous violence. The story is very engaging and any reader would be sucked into Will Henry's world with Dr. Warthrop. And the good news? Two more books!

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