Title: The Monstrumologist
Author: Rick Yancey
ISBN: 9781416984481
Pages: 454 pages
Publisher/Date: Simon and Schuster, c2009.

“Upon the table lay a young girl, her body partially concealed by the naked form wrapped around her, one massive leg thrown over her torso, an arm draped across her chest. Her white burial gown was stained with the distinctive ochre of dried blood, the source of which was immediately apparent: Half her face was missing, and below it I could see the exposed bones of her neck. The tears along the remaining skin were jagged and triangular in shape, as if someone had hacked at her body with a hatchet.
The other corpse was male, at least twice her size, wrapped as I said around her diminutive frame as a mother nestles with her child, the chest a few inches from her ravaged neck, the rest of its body pressed tightly against hers. But the most striking thing was not its size or even the startling fact of its very presence.
No, the most remarkable thing about this most remarkable tableau was that her companion had no head.” (14)

This remarkable beast, twelve-year-old Will Henry quickly discovers, is an Anthropophagi, a monster better known for living across the ocean than in Will’s New England town. Will is apprenticed to the local monstromologist, a scientist who studies life forms “not recognized by science as actual organisms, specifically those considered products of myth and folklore”. While the specimen delivered to their door step is dead, it quickly becomes apparent that there are more of these things lurking beneath the cementary. And they are hungry.

This tale of dark, unspeakable horror occurring in 1888 is told in gruesome detail and would make an excellent read aloud before or during Halloween celebrations. Not for the squeamish or faint of heart, the monsters pop up from the earth with lightning speed, devouring their victims with rows upon rows of teeth in a gaping mouth located below their chest. Their eyes are located on their shoulders, and mention of these creatures dates back (according to Yancey’s quotes at the beginning of the book) to 440 B.C.

While the language might not immediately click for some readers, the intriguing plot line and body count is instantaneous. Will Henry’s caregiver, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, calls in the ruthless Dr. John Kearns, who readers will alternately cheer and jeer. Dr. Kearns is not to be trusted, and Yancey hints at his future exploits at the end of the novel. Dr. Warthrop is only slightly more likeable, as he works Will Henry to the bone night after night with his research and places him in predictaments that other characters find questionable. But the plucky young, orphaned hero of the story is the one we put our faith in, as Will is forced to overcome insurmountable obstacles.

A Printz Honor book for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, this is one book that will stick with you. Start reading it early in the morning, so you are hopefully done with the book by the time you go to bed.