I'm not usually a fan of horror novels. In fact, I generally avoid them. However, when my friend pressed me to read The Monstrumologist, I quickly became engrossed in a deliciously gruesome and wickedly smart tale of monster-hunting and intrigue. Written by Rick Yancey, it is the story of twelve-year-old Will Henry, the apprentice to the monstrumologist Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. He and his mentor make it their work to study and sometimes exterminate things that we would think of as monsters, but which Warthrop describes as being natural organisms that science has overlooked. When the two are presented with the grisly findings of an old grave robber, they set off to investigate a plague of monsters the like of which has not been seen in North America.
The story itself was intriguing enough to draw me in, but along with the exciting and often gore-filled plot, the writing itself is something beautiful and worth reading. The book is written in a grand nineteenth-century style, somewhat of a mixture of Dickens and Robert Lewis Stevenson. Given this, one might expect that the reading might be a little slow, but the combination of the adrenaline-pumping plot and the lyrical writing makes for a quick read.
The monsters themselves, known as Anthropophagi, are quite fascinating, and Yancey has come up with a whole list of biological attributes and behaviors that make it seems very possible that these terrifying beasts could be real. They are headless humanoids that have their faces on their chests, complete with lidless black eyes and gaping maws that would be better suited on a shark. Interestingly, the Anthropophagi are based on accounts of Pliny and Homer. In Othello, Shakespeare mentions them, as well. Also, the name means "people-eater." Oh yes. Did I mention that? The only thing they'll eat is human.
In short, this book, which is definitely not short on viscera, is worth a read, if you have a strong stomach and love of gothic horror.
Needless to say, I won't be walking near any grave yards anytime soon.