The Monstrumologist may give you nightmares, but you won't mind. The gloomy but exciting book was brought to life by Rick Yancey, creator of the Alfred Kropp series, as the first of a new Gothic series.
Will Henry is the orphaned apprentice to the not-so-famous monstrumologist, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. Warthrop studies creatures the world has dismissed as myths, rumors and hoaxes. In 1888, on a stereotypical stormy night, a grave robber arrives upon Warthrop's doorstep with unusual loot: a young girl's corpse entangled with a dead carnivore called an Anthropophagus.
Native to Africa, it's an incredibly strong, headless creature with a large, tooth-infested mouth centered in its chest. The doctor and Henry find an entire colony of the monsters, and to eliminate them must rely on help from the vicious monster hunter Dr. Kearns and Malachi, the lone survivor of an Anthropophagi attack. As they do, Henry struggles to let go of his memories of his deceased parents and longs for the love of the work-obsessed Warthrop.
I'm easily frightened and prefer not to read horror novels but I found The Monstrumologist worth the scare. Some scenes are extremely gory, but the story reveals the dark side of human beings. You'll find yourself actually feeling sorry for the Anthropophagi, who are simply trying to survive in an unknown environment — that is, when they aren't slaughtering their poor victims.
The Monstrumologist is no Twilight. Devoid of adolescent romance, it involves paternal love, which is a welcome change of pace. My biggest disappointment was that it focuses on a single species, with a few cameos from other monsters. Despite the book's Victorian style, Yancey writes a fast-paced story. If you enjoy white-knuckle terror you will want to read this book faster than an Anthropophagi can shred a victim to bits.
William Harvey is in the eighth grade at Liberty Middle School in Tampa.