Last Christmas a very dear friend of mine sent us a gift package that consisted of books for my entire household--it was wonderful. Mr. CR read his book right away and CRjr had his book read to him, but for months I didn't get around to my gift, which was Rick Yancey's YA horror novel The Monstrumologist.
Then, at the end of this past summer, when I wasn't in much of a nonfiction mood, I decided it was time to read it. No particular reason, although I was embarrassed that I had waited so long (just like I'm also embarrassed that it took me so long to blog about it after reading it!).
The story is framed by two modern-day individuals discussing the diaries they have found, written by one Will Henry, who has died at the age of (according to what he told his fellow nursing home residents and doctors) 131. And what is in the diaries? Well, the tagline for the book is "there are monsters among us...and they must be found," and that pretty much sums it up. Evidently, as an orphaned lad, Will Henry stayed to live and work with his father's former employer, a monstrumologist (or, one who finds and deals with monsters). The monsters the two are following in this narrative are "Anthropophagi"--suitably ucky monsters with devouring teeth, superhuman strength and wiles, and eyes in their stomach.
It's a pretty creepy read (even for me, as a supposed adult), and it would be a very good atmospheric read around Halloween time. I enjoyed the book very much, although one part of it frightened me so much it actually gave me nightmares. (And it wasn't one of the parts with monsters--it was one of the parts where the main character visits a home for the mentally deranged--ick.)
I had only one minor complaint with the book, and that is that the monstrumologist calls Will Henry by his full name just a little too often. There's a lot of this type of exchange:
"'And find my boots, Will Henry.'
'Of course, sir.'
I hesitated, waiting for a fourth command. The old man called Erasmus was staring at me.
'Well, what are you waiting for?' the doctor said. 'Snap to, Will Henry!'" (p. 6.)
But overall, it's still just a good, spine-tingling read:
"With each step my heart beat faster, for in my mind's eye I saw it beneath the stairs, crouching on all fours upon the sweating stone floor, a headless beast with blank black eyes set deep in its shoulders and a mouth overflowing with row upon row of glistening teeth, the lion in the savanna brush, the shark in the reef shadows, and I the grazing gazelle, the juvenile seal frolicking in the surf. It would rise as I descended. It would reach through the open slats and seize my ankle with its three-inch barbs..." (p. 91.)
If you know any YA readers who enjoy being scared, this one might make a good Christmas gift. I know that it was a gift I very much appreciated and enjoyed.