The Monstrumologist: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
|The Monstrumologist: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey|
|Reviewer: Robert James|
|Summary: With better characterisation and a much faster pace than the promising first book in the series, Rick Yancey really delivers with an exciting adventure here. One warning though - even stronger stomachs are required than last time as there's some real gore here!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: October 2010|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books|
While the celebrated monstrumologist Dr Peregrine Warthrop has spent his life tracking down dark and mysterious creatures, the existence of some of these fiends is too much for him to believe. In fact, there's a split between Warthrop, his former close friend John Chanler, and their mentor Von Helrung over whether there really are such things as vampires, werewolves, and the terrifying wendigo, rumoured to be the ultimate predator. Warthrop scoffs at the other men's belief in this creature - and at one point in the book gives an interesting lecture on why it's impossible for it to exist - but nevertheless goes in search of Chanler when he disappears searching for it. It's not just friendship that drives him to look for his colleague though, as he's asked by Chanler's wife Muriel - who is Warthrop's former fiancee. The search for Chanler takes the monstrumologist and his young assistant John Henry deep into the Canadian wilderness, but when they return to New York they bring back someone - or something - that can endanger their lives.
While I enjoyed the first book in Yancey's Monstrumologist series, I expressed the concern when reviewing it that it was far too long for the amount of action in it. No such criticism here - this is beautifully paced, with adrenaline rushes coming left right and centre and the author building tension expertly both in the wilderness as the lead characters search for Chanleer - first helped and then hindered by a local sergeant - and then in the city scenes back in New York. There's also a rich bunch of characters in here - both the purely fictional and the historical or historically inspired, which include Thomas Edison, Henry Irving, and Von Helrung and his friend Meister Abram who are clearly based on Bram Stoker and Stoker's hero Van Helsing. Warthrop is still the most intriguing character and is fleshed out more than in the original novel, with an interesting debate between Will Henry and a friend of his - if the young boy, as he claims, sees himself as Oliver Twist, does that put his mentor in the role of Twist's kindly benefactor Mr Brownlow, or the rather less savoury Fagin?
As with the first book, the horror here is bloody and violent at times, to the point where I was struggling to continue through certain scenes - although the story had me hooked in so deeply that there was never any point where it became so much of a concern that I put it down. I'll also cheerfully admit that your average 11 - 14 year old boy in the target audience for this book probably has far more stomach for that sort of thing than I do anyway - but I'd feel remiss in not mentioning it. At least this way parents won't be able to say they weren't warned if it does induce nightmares!
In summary, this is a high recommendation and with Will Henry's story seeming to have some time to run yet I'm certainly looking forward to the next volume of the Monstrumologist series.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For more entertaining gore I think children would love the Demonata series by Darren Shan, with Blood Beast perhaps the stand-out.
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You can read more book reviews or buy The Monstrumologist: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey at Amazon.com.
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