Friday, March 16, 2012

The Monstrumologists are Back in Town

Will Henry has lost his family, but the Monstrumologist, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop took him in. Will Henry's father was Warthrop's assistant, and after his death the doctor kept Will Henry on as his assistant. While it might not seem like a young teen would be the best assistant, Will Henry is the only person in Warthrop's life who truly cares about him... even if he isn't thrilled about all the monsters. In Rick Yancey's sequel to The Monstrumlogist, The Curse of the Wendigo, Will Henry and Warthrop aren't trying to find a monster. They are trying to convince everyone it doesn't exist...

When Warthrop's best friend and arch nemesis goes missing, Warthrop agrees to go to Canada to find John Chanler. Chanler was sent by the head of the Monstrumology Society, Dr. von Helrung, to find tangible proof that the Wendigo truly did exist and have it entered into the list of existing monsters. Warthrop knows the Wendigo is just a myth, but nonetheless, Chanler has still gone missing. He and Will Henry set off to find the missing scientist only to find themselves lost in the wilderness and being hunted by something that neither of them can explain. They find Chanler, but returning to civilization is no easy feat. 

When they finally find their way back to the town, Warthrop refuses to admit anything was hunting them. He convinces Will Henry it was all dehydration and exhaustion playing tricks on their minds, but Will Henry can't forget those yellow eyes. Chanler is returned to his wife in New York City and Warthrop and Will Henry head to the same city for the annual Monstrumologist convention. But went they find Chanler being kept under guard in von Helrung's house, not a hospital, Warthrop accuses the old scientist of losing his mind and endangering Chanler's life. What they don't expect is for Chanler to quickly devolve into more beast than man. Can you still question the existence of a Wendigo when it is rampaging through the city and hunting your own apprentice? Dr. Pellinore Warthrop can!

When I try to describe Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, I always find myself claiming him to be a male Temperance Brennan, from the television show "Bones". He isn't heartless, he is just very scientific and logical, to the point of seeming to be without emotion. In the first book, however, it became very clear that he cared very much for the orphan boy he took in. In this book, that fatherly devotion grows to the point where Warthrop even considers sending Will Henry away to protect him from the dangerous profession of Monstrumology. In fact, the relationship between the young apprentice and the doctor is what makes me love this series so much. Warthrop doesn't care much about the lives of other people, but he would do anything to keep Will Henry safe- even send away the only person he actually cares about. And sometimes, when Warthrop is describing something very clinically, and Will Henry is struggling to maintain his composure and not laugh out loud in front of the doctor, I found myself cracking up! The very dynamic between the two is hilarious.

I think this is a good series for most junior high through high school students. It is set at the turn of the century, so the historical aspects of New York City at that time are very interesting (giant piles of horse poo from the carriages!). There is certainly some violence with the rescue and escape of John Chanler and Will Henry always seems to find himself in grave danger, much to the irritation of Dr. Warthrop. There are some times when the story slows a little bit, so a stronger reader with a little stamina might be necessary. Still, these are great books that have a subtle humor that will keep you sniggering and giggling right along with Will Henry!

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