Twelve-year-old Will Henry finds himself in the unenviable position of assistant to a monstrumologist. What is a monstrumologist, you ask? Why, it's exactly what it sounds like--it's someone who studies monsters.
One dark and eerie night, a grave robber brings a delivery to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop. After removing the coverings, Will is horrified to see the body of a young girl entwined with a monster who has to have come straight from the bowels of hell. Headless, with eyes in his shoulders and a maw in his belly full of teeth like a shark's, the monster is dead too. But this species of monster shouldn't be in this location at all. And so begins a race against time as Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop try to prevent more deaths and unravel the mystery of how the Anthropophagus, for so the monster is called, came to be in a New England town called New Jerusalem.
This book scared me to death, I swear.
It's shelved in the young adult section of my library, but I would say it's definitely more for the older set, and adults who like horror should seek it out.
Anyway, reading about the Anthropophagi had me jumping out of my skin. Just break that name down into its component parts. I'm reading it as being something about a maneater. Great name for a monster, right? Anyway, I forgot to turn my alarm clock off one morning as I was reading this and heard it buzzing incessantly as I got out of the shower. My first thought? "Oh, no it's going to call them to me." Yeah. Them being the Anthropophagi. My husband accidentally booby-trapped a cabinet (at least it better have been an accident), and as stuff came pouring out at my feet and my heart pounded out of my chest, I just knew that a baby Anthropophagus was going to get me. I am not lying. It has been a while since I've been this spooked by a horror book. I'd say that I'm middle of the road with my tolerance for horror.
Dr. Warthrop is an unbearable, vain man. My synopsis makes him sound all noble, but he's not. He puts Will Henry into situations no child should even dream of, much less actually experience, all because Will Henry is the only assistant on hand. He wakes the child at all hours of the night to cater to his own whims, and puts his life in danger pretty constantly. As I read on though, I saw that there was a little more to him than meets the eye, but I still didn't like him.
Will Henry himself is a little bit of a puzzle. I think he puzzles himself. He admits that he's miserable but he doesn't run away. The book takes the form of his memoirs, and Will Henry as an old man does reflect and ponder on why he stayed with Dr. Warthrop. He comes up with some good answers, but I still found myself wishing that he would just run away.
The book is excellent horror, with unexpected jump-out-at-you moments, and it's pretty gory. Lots of blood and mayhem here. I have worked in health care for years, with all the sights and smells that implies, and I found myself having to put the book aside because I couldn't continue to read the graphic descriptions I was coming across as I was eating. Yup, this book put me off my feed.
This book definitely isn't for everyone, but if you like horror, pick this one up. For all my jumpiness, it was exactly what I was looking for at Halloween, and I loved every minute of it. I will definitely be picking up the next in the series.
Read an excerpt.
Find author Rick Yancey on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.
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