The Monstrumologist (Monstrumologist Series #1)

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Overview


These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous ...

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The Monstrumologist (Monstrumologist Series #1)

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Overview


These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will's world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi--a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest--and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatenning to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.

The Monstrumologist is the first stunning gothic adventure in a series that combines the spirit of HP Lovecraft with the storytelling ability of Rick Riorden.

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  • The Monstrumologist
    The Monstrumologist  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This gothic thriller will appeal to kids who like scary with high brow Dickensian writing...Yancey builds the action towards the climactic cemetary scene while also deftly handling the changing interpersonal dynamic between the doctor and Will. REaders who enjoyed Yancey's Alfred Kropp series...won't want to miss this one. Recommended."—Library Media Connection

"Yancey takes...gore and violence...to thrilling new levels in this sophisticated tale."—School Library Journal

"This story is gothic horror at its finest and most disturbing. A cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King, the tale will force readers to stay up late to finish and then remain awake, afraid to shut off the lights...The richness of the language, the strain of wry humor, and the perfectly drawn characters make it a marvelous read...This book is perfect for readers who want their nightmares in a literary package."—VOYA

"This has all the elements of the best Victorian mystery and horror...Readers who like their horror truly horrible and yet archly distant and peppered with ecstatic Victorian-scented comments on the woes of the human condition will jump right in and not emerge until the last relieved gasp."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

From the Publisher

"This gothic thriller will appeal to kids who like scary with high brow Dickensian writing...Yancey builds the action towards the climactic cemetary scene while also deftly handling the changing interpersonal dynamic between the doctor and Will. REaders who enjoyed Yancey's Alfred Kropp series...won't want to miss this one. Recommended."--Library Media Connection

"Yancey takes...gore and violence...to thrilling new levels in this sophisticated tale."--School Library Journal

"This story is gothic horror at its finest and most disturbing. A cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King, the tale will force readers to stay up late to finish and then remain awake, afraid to shut off the lights...The richness of the language, the strain of wry humor, and the perfectly drawn characters make it a marvelous read...This book is perfect for readers who want their nightmares in a literary package."--VOYA

"This has all the elements of the best Victorian mystery and horror...Readers who like their horror truly horrible and yet archly distant and peppered with ecstatic Victorian-scented comments on the woes of the human condition will jump right in and not emerge until the last relieved gasp."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature - Elizabeth D. Schafer
Orphaned Will Henry, age twelve, encounters terrors while residing in New Jerusalem, Massachusetts, with eccentric Dr. Pellinore Xavier Warthrop, who his father had assisted. Events go awry with Erasmus Gray's arrival after midnight on April 15, 1888, bringing Warthrop burlap-wrapped corpses of a girl named Eliza Bunton and a hideous monster. Will accompanies the men to Old Hill Cemetery and is soon thrust into horrors presented by bloodthirsty Anthropophagi. Aware carnivorous creatures indigenous to Africa have infested their community, Warthrop and Will travel to Motley Hill Sanitarium where Captain Hezekiah Varner divulges monstrous carnage during a horrific sea voyage from Africa. Grotesque damages confront Will after monsters slaughter Reverend Stinnet and his family, except son Malachi who Will befriends. Warthrop insists Will help eradicate the colony of human-eating monsters. Those grisly extermination expectations frighten Will who is unnerved further by bizarre Dr. Jack Kearns, who Warthrop warns is dangerous but essential. The intricate plot effectively ties people's histories, secrets, and mysterious objects together to reveal twists. Imagery of predators, prey, and parasites convey sinister tones, emphasizing themes of risk, betrayal, trust, and truth. Sensory details pulse from the pages as readers vicariously see, smell, feel, and recoil from Will's gory experiences. Read with Cynthia DeFelice's The Apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker (1996) and Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book (2008). The author's website, www.rickyancey.com, posts discussion guide and sequel information. Reviewer: Elizabeth D. Schafer
Jacqueline Bach
Twelve year-old-orphan William James Henry serves as an apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop—a monstrumologist. In this thrilling tale, Will assists Dr. Warthrop, who is an official monster hunter, track down a group of anthropophagi—those creatures of mythology and lore with no heads and shark-like mouths in their stomachs. Set in a small New England-type town in 1888, Dr. Warthrop and Henry travel to gruesome crime scenes, cemeteries, and an asylum in search of the answers behind the mysterious appearance of this pack of man-eaters. Just as mysterious are the circumstances behind Will's parents' deaths and his complex relationship with the doctor who relies on him so much. Yancey's novel, with shades of Sherlock Holmes and forensic thrillers, will excite those who appreciate horror novels with a medical twist and delight those interested in gothic gore. I look forward to Will's next adventure. Reviewer: Jacqueline Bach
Publishers Weekly
In this dark tale constructed as a journal by 12-year-old orphan Will Henry, Yancey (the Alfred Kropp series) presents the story of the boy's apprenticeship to an enigmatic 19th-century “monstrumologist,” Doctor Pellinore Warthrop. Purportedly found in 2007 amid the personal effects of the recently deceased Will (at age 131), the memoir opens as a corpse is delivered to Warthrop by a grave-robber one night in 1888. What appears to be a horrific desecration of the body foreshadows a plague of headless, man-eating anthropophagi. Will, left in the doctor's care since his parents' death, is drawn into the effort to save his town and find out how the creatures reached America, and both Will and Warthrop are forced to confront their own family histories and obsessions. Yancey's elegant depiction of an America plagued with monsters, human and otherwise, spares no grisly detail (in describing feeding anthropophagi: “The head is the most coveted prize. The first to reach her seizes it and wrenches it from her neck... a steaming geyser shoots into the air and paints crimson their teeming alabaster bodies”). Horror lovers will be rapt. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Heather Pittman
In 1888, twelve-year-old Will Henry is the Monstrumologist's assistant. The doctor is an expert in the grotesque. When the corpse of a man-eating monster, an Anthropophagus, is discovered, the doctor realizes that it was from a breeding pod. He and Will must destroy the monsters before they begin attacking and eating the living. Written in Victorian vernacular, this story is gothic horror at its finest and most disturbing. A cross between Mary Shelley and Stephen King, the tale will force readers to stay up late to finish and then remain awake, afraid to shut off the lights. The descriptions are vividly disgusting, and the characters are wonderful. The doctor is brilliant and arrogant, given to manic bursts of activity followed by days of inertia. From the scheming director of the mental hospital, to the old grave robber, to the owlish constable, each character is whole and rich. In a cast of outstanding characters, most impressive is hunter Jack Kearns, whose boyish charm contrasts sharply with his insane drive to destroy the monsters. The plot is fast-paced and original. Despite stock gothic settings, of a mental hospital, a spooky laboratory, and graveyard catacombs, this story always feels fresh. The richness of the language, the strain of wry humor, and the perfectly drawn characters make it a marvelous read. It is not a tale for the fainthearted, however. Many of the descriptions are deeply disturbing. This book is perfect for readers who want their nightmares in a literary package. Reviewer: Heather Pittman
School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—Yancey takes the gore and violence of Darren Shan's "Cirque du Freak" (Little, Brown) or Joseph Delaney's "Last Apprentice" series (HarperCollins) to thrilling new levels in this sophisticated tale. A scholarly monster hunter is facing an outbreak of Anthropophagi—creatures described by Herodotus, et al., and presented here as ravening, headless predators with sharklike mouths in their bellies and sharklike feeding habits to match—in a 19th-century New England town. The merry chase takes cerebral, self-centered Pellinore Warthrop, joined by a disturbingly cheerful colleague named Kearns and 12-year-old Will Henry, who doubles as both narrator (writing years later) and protagonist, from a gruesome dissection described with clinical precision to an interview with an inmate literally rotting away in a decrepit sanatorium, from a ravaged vicarage awash in gore to a hard-fought climactic melee in a bone-strewn subterranean lair. Though the pace sometimes falters beneath the weight of Will's verbose observations, the author folds surprising depth and twists into the plot and cast alike, crafts icky bits that can be regarded as comically over-the-top (or not), and all in all dishes up an escapade fully "capable," as Will puts it, "of fulfilling our curious and baffling need for a marauding horror of malicious intent, thank you very much."—John Peters, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Herodotus, Shakespeare and other writers have noted the hulking, headless, cannibalistic creatures called Anthropophagi. In 1888, these beasts, originally from Africa, have begun attacking a New England village. Documenting the gothic horror in his diary ("discovered" by author Yancey while researching one of his Alfred Kropp titles) is 12-year-old orphan William James Henry, assistant to monstrumologist Dr. Warthrop. Having made the study of monsters a career, the aloof yet just doctor must solve the origin of the Anthropophagi in America and stop their widespread and extremely violent and bloody carnage, which may not rest easy with readers of any age. With numerous nods to H.P. Lovecraft and other literary and historic figures, Will's intelligent diary captures their page-turning, nightmarish adventures and the constructs and evolving scientific theories of the time as well as his budding independence. Together, Will and the doctor also explore human relationships, especially that of father and son, and the dilemmas between science and morality. The ending hints of a sequel, but can readers stomach it? (Horror. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416984481
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Series: Monstrumologist Series , #1
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 248,161
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey is the author of The Monstrumologist, The Curse of the Wendigo, The Isle of Blood, and The Final Descent. He has also written the award-winning series Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, as well as several novels for adults, including The Highly Effective Detective and A Burning in Homeland. His memoir, Confessions of a Tax Collector, was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books on taxes ever written. He earned a BA in English from Roosevelt University in Chicago and worked as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service before turning to writing full time in 2004. Rick lives with his wife Sandy and two sons in Gainesville, Florida. Visit him at RickYancey.com.
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Read an Excerpt

ONE
“A Singular Curiosity”

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed.

But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets.

The one who saved me … and the one who cursed me.

I can’t recall what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember with nightmarish clarity that spring night in 1888 when he roused me roughly from my slumber, his hair unkempt, eyes wide and shining in the lamplight, the excited glow upon his finely chiseled features, one with which I had, unfortunately, become intimately acquainted.

“Get up! Get up, Will Henry, and be quick about it!” he said urgently. “We have a caller!”

“A caller?” I murmured in reply. “What time is it?”

“A little after one. Now get dressed and meet me at the back door. Step lively, Will Henry, and snap to!”

He withdrew from my little alcove, taking the light with him. I dressed in the dark and scampered down the ladder in my stocking feet, putting on the last of my garments, a soft felt hat a size too small for my twelve-year-old head. That little hat was all I had left from my life before coming to live with him, and so it was precious to me.

He had lit the jets along the hall of the upper floor, though but a single light burned on the main floor, in the kitchen at the rear of the old house where just the two of us lived, without so much as a maid to pick up after us: The doctor was a private man, engaged in a dark and dangerous business, and could ill afford the prying eyes and gossiping tongue of the servant class. When the dust and dirt became intolerable, about every three months or so, he would press a rag and a bucket into my hands and tell me to “snap to” before the tide of filth overwhelmed us.

I followed the light into the kitchen, my shoes completely forgotten in my trepidation. This was not the first nocturnal visitor since my coming to live with him the year before. The doctor had numerous visits in the wee hours of the morning, more than I cared to remember, and none were cheerful social calls. His business was dangerous and dark, as I have said, and so, on the whole, were his callers.

The one who called on this night was standing just outside the back door, a gangly, skeletal figure, his shadow rising wraithlike from the glistening cobblestones. His face was hidden beneath the broad brim of his straw hat, but I could see his gnarled knuckles protruding from his frayed sleeves, and knobby yellow ankles the size of apples below his tattered trousers. Behind the old man a broken-down nag of a horse stamped and snorted, steam rising from its quivering flanks. Behind the horse, barely visible in the mist, was the cart with its grotesque cargo, wrapped in several layers of burlap.

The doctor was speaking quietly to the old man as I came to the door, a comforting hand upon his shoulder, for clearly our caller was nearly mad with panic. He had done the right thing, the doctor was assuring him. He, the doctor, would take the matter from here. All would be well. The poor old soul nodded his large head, which appeared all the larger with its lid of straw as it bobbed on its spindly neck.

“’Tis a crime. A bloody crime of nature!” he exclaimed at one point. “I shouldn’t have taken it; I should have covered it back up and left it to the mercy of God!”

“I take no stances on theology, Erasmus,” said the doctor. “I am a scientist. But is it not said that we are his instruments? If that is the case, then God brought you to her and directed you hence to my door.”

“So you won’t report me?” the old man asked, with a sideways glance toward the doctor.

“Your secret will be as safe with me as I hope mine will be with you. Ah, here is Will Henry. Will Henry, where are your shoes? No, no,” he said as I turned to fetch them. “I need you to ready the laboratory.”

“Yes, doctor,” I responded dutifully, and turned to go a second time.

“And put a pot on. It’s going to be a long night.”

“Yes, sir,” I said. I turned a third time.

“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!”

“Yes, sir,” I said. “Right away, sir!”

I left them in the alley, hearing the old man ask as I hurried across the kitchen, “He is your boy?”

“He is my assistant,” came the doctor’s reply.

I set the water on to boil and then went down to the basement. I lit the lamps, laid out the instruments. (I wasn’t sure which he might need, but had a strong suspicion the old man’s delivery was not alive—I had heard no sounds coming from the old cart, and there didn’t seem to be great urgency to fetch the cargo inside … though this may have been more hope than suspicion.) Then I removed a fresh smock from the closet and rummaged under the stairs for the doctor’s rubber boots. They weren’t there, and for a moment I stood by the examination table in mute panic. I had washed them the week before and was certain I had placed them under the stairs. Where were the doctor’s boots? From the kitchen came the clumping of the men’s tread across the wooden floor. He was coming, and I had lost his boots!

I spied the boots just as the doctor and Erasmus began to descend the stairs. They were beneath the worktable, where I had placed them. Why had I put them there? I set them by the stool and waited, my heart pounding, my breath coming in short, ragged gasps. The basement was very cold, at least ten degrees colder than the rest of the house, and stayed that way year round.

The load, still wrapped tightly in burlap, must have been heavy: The muscles in the men’s necks bulged with the effort, and their descent was painfully slow. Once the old man cried for a halt. They paused five steps from the bottom, and I could see the doctor was annoyed at this delay. He was anxious to unveil his new prize.

They eventually heaved their burden onto the examining table. The doctor guided the old man to the stool. Erasmus sank down upon it, removed his straw hat, and wiped his crinkled brow with a filthy rag. He was shaking badly. In the light I could see that nearly all of him was filthy, from his mud-encrusted shoes to his broken fingernails to the fine lines and crevasses of his ancient face. I could smell the rich, loamy aroma of damp earth rising from him.

“A crime,” he murmured. “A crime!”

“Yes, grave-robbing is a crime,” said the doctor. “A very serious crime, Erasmus. A thousand-dollar fine and five years’ hard labor.” He shrugged into his smock and motioned for his boots. He leaned against the banister to tug them on. “We are coconspirators now. I must trust you, and you in turn must trust me. Will Henry, where is my tea?”

I raced up the stairs. Below, the old man was saying, “I have a family to feed. My wife, she’s very ill; she needs medicine. I can’t find work, and what use is gold and jewels to the dead?”

They had left the back door ajar. I swung it closed and threw the bolt, but not until I checked the alley. I saw nothing but the fog, which had grown thicker, and the horse, its face dominated by its large eyes that seemed to implore me for help.

I could hear the rise and fall of the voices in the basement as I prepared the tea, Erasmus’s with its high-pitched, semi-hysterical edge, the doctor’s measured and low, beneath which lurked an impatient curtness no doubt born of his eagerness to unwrap the old man’s unholy bundle. My unshod feet had grown quite cold, but I tried my best to ignore the discomfort. I dressed the tray with sugar and cream and two cups. Though the doctor hadn’t ordered the second, I thought the old man might need a cup to repair his shattered nerves.

“… halfway to it, the ground just gave beneath me,” the old grave-robber was saying as I descended with the tray. “As if I struck a hollow or pocket in the earth. I fell face-first upon the top of the casket. Don’t know if my fall cracked the lid or if it was cracked by the … cracked before I fell.”

“Before, no doubt,” said the doctor.

They were as I had left them, the doctor leaning against the banister, the old man shivering upon the stool. I offered him some tea, and he accepted the proffered cup gladly.

“Oh, I am chilled to my very bones!” he whimpered.

“This has been a cold spring,” the doctor observed. He struck me as at once bored and agitated.

“I couldn’t just leave it there,” the old man explained. “Cover it up again and leave it? No, no. I’ve more respect than that. I fear God. I fear the judgment of eternity! A crime, Doctor. An abomination! So once I gathered my wits, I used the horse and a bit of rope to haul them from the hole, wrapped them up … brought them here.”

“You did the right thing, Erasmus.”

“‘There’s but one man who’ll know what to do,’ I said to myself. Forgive me, but you must know what they say about you and the curious goings-on in this house. Only the deaf would not know about Pellinore Warthrop and the house on Harrington Lane!”

“Then I am fortunate,” said the doctor dryly, “that you are not deaf.”

He went to the old man’s side and placed both hands on his shoulders.

“You have my confidence, Erasmus Gray. As I’m certain I have yours. I will speak to no one of your involvement in this ‘crime,’ as you call it, as I’m sure you will keep mum regarding mine. Now, for your trouble …”

He produced a wad of bills from his pocket and stuffed them into the old man’s hands. “I don’t mean to rush you off, but each moment you stay endangers both you and my work, both of which matter a great deal to me, though one perhaps a bit more than the other,” he added with a tight smile. He turned to me. “Will Henry, show our caller to the door.” Then he turned back to Erasmus Gray. “You have done an invaluable service to the advancement of science, sir.”

The old man seemed more interested in the advancement of his fortunes, for he was staring openmouthed at the cash in his still-quivering hands. Dr. Warthrop urged him to his feet and toward the stairs, instructing me not to forget to lock the back door and find my shoes.

“And don’t lollygag, Will Henry. We’ve work to last us the rest of the night. Snap to!”

Old Erasmus hesitated at the back door, a dirty paw upon my shoulder, the other clutching his tattered straw hat, his rheumy eyes straining against the fog, which had now completely engulfed his horse and cart. Its snorts and stamping against the stones were the only evidence of the beast’s existence.

“Why are you here, boy?” he asked suddenly, giving my shoulder a hard squeeze. “This is no business for children.”

“My parents died in a fire, sir,” I answered. “The doctor took me in.”

“The doctor,” Erasmus echoed. “They call him that—but what exactly is he a doctor of?”

The grotesque, I might have answered. The bizarre. The unspeakable. Instead I gave the same answer the doctor had given me when I’d asked him not long after my arrival at the house on Harrington Lane. “Philosophy,” I said with little conviction.

“Philosophy!” Erasmus cried softly. “Not what I would call it, that be certain!”

He jammed the hat upon his head and plunged into the fog, shuffling forward until it engulfed him.

A few minutes later I was descending the stairs to the basement laboratory, having thrown the bolt to the door and having found my shoes, after a moment or two of frantic searching, exactly where I had left them the night before. The doctor was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, impatiently drumming his fingers upon the rail. Apparently he did not think there was enough “snap” in my “to.” As for myself, I was not looking forward to the rest of the evening. This was not the first time someone had called at our back door in the middle of the night bearing macabre packages, though this certainly was the largest since I had come to live with the doctor.

“Did you lock the door?” the doctor asked. I noticed again the color high in his cheeks, the slight shortness of breath, the excited quaver in his voice. I answered that I had. He nodded. “If what he says is true, Will Henry, if I have not been taken for a fool—which would not be the first time— then this is an extraordinary find. Come!”

We took our positions, he by the table where lay the bundle of muddy burlap, I behind him and to his right, manning the tall rolling tray of instruments, with pencil and notebook at the ready. My hand was shaking slightly as I wrote the date across the top of the page, April 15, 1888.

He donned his gloves with a loud pop! against his wrists and stamped his boots on the cold stone floor. He pulled on his mask, leaving just the top of his nose and his intense dark eyes exposed.

“Are we ready, Will Henry?” he breathed, his voice muffled by the mask. He drummed his fingers in the empty air.

“Ready, sir,” I replied, though I felt anything but.

“Scissors!”

I slapped the instrument handle-first into his open palm.

“No, the big ones, Will Henry. The shears there.”

He began at the narrow end of the bundle, where the feet must have been, cutting down the center of the thick material, his shoulders hunched, the muscles of his jaw bunching with the effort. He paused once to stretch and loosen his cramping fingers, then returned to the task. The burlap was wet and caked with mud.

“The old man trussed it tighter than a Christmas turkey,” the doctor muttered.

After what seemed like hours, he reached the opposite end. The burlap had parted an inch or two along the cut, but no more. The contents remained a mystery and would remain so for a few more seconds. The doctor handed me the shears and leaned against the table, resting before the final, awful climax. At last he straightened, pressing his hands upon the small of his back. He took a deep breath.

“Very well, then,” he said softly. “Let’s have it, Will Henry.”

He peeled away the material, working it apart in the same direction as he had cut it. The burlap fell back on either side, draping over the table like the petals of a flower opening to welcome the spring sun.

Over his bent back I could see them. Not the single corpulent corpse that I had anticipated, but two bodies, one wrapped about the other in an obscene embrace. I choked back the bile that rushed from my empty stomach, and willed my knees to be still. Remember, I was twelve years old. A boy, yes, but a boy who had already seen his fair share of grotesqueries. The laboratory had shelves along the walls that held large jars wherein oddities floated in preserving solution, extremities and organs of creatures that you would not recognize, that you would swear belonged to the world of nightmares, not our waking world of comfortable familiarity. And, as I’ve said, this was not the first time I had assisted the doctor at his table.

But nothing had prepared me for what the old man delivered that night. I daresay your average adult would have fled the room in horror, run screaming up the stairs and out of the house, for what lay within that burlap cocoon laid shame to all the platitudes and promises from a thousand pulpits upon the nature of a just and loving God, of a balanced and kind universe, and the dignity of man. A crime, the old grave-robber had called it. Indeed there seemed no better word for it, though a crime requires a criminal … and who or what was the criminal in this case?

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.

Anthropophagi,” the doctor murmured, eyes wide and glittering above the mask. “It must be … but how could it? This is most curious, Will Henry. That he’s dead is curious enough, but more curious by far is that he’s here in the first place! … Specimen is male, approximately twenty-five to thirty years of age, no signs of exterior injury or trauma… . Will Henry, are you writing this down?”

He was staring at me. I in turn stared back at him. The stench of death had already filled the room, causing my eyes to sting and fill with tears. He pointed at the forgotten notebook in my hand. “Focus upon the task at hand, Will Henry.”

I nodded and wiped away the tears with the back of my hand. I pressed the lead point against the paper and began to write beneath the date.

“Specimen appears to be of the genus Anthropophagi,” the doctor repeated. “Male, approximately twenty-five to thirty years of age, with no signs of exterior injury or trauma… .”

Focusing on the task of reporter helped to steady me, though I could feel the tug of morbid curiosity, like an outgoing tide pulling on a swimmer, urging me to look again. I nibbled on the end of the pencil as I struggled with the spelling of “Anthropophagi.”

Victim is female, approximately seventeen years of age, with evidence of denticulated trauma to the right side of the face and neck. The hyoid bone and lower mandible are completely exposed, exhibiting some scoring from the specimen’s teeth… .”

Teeth? But the thing had no head! I looked up from the pad. Dr. Warthrop was bent over their torsos, fortuitously blocking my view. What sort of creature could bite if it lacked the mouth with which to do it? On the heels of that thought came the awful revelation: The thing had been eating her.

He moved quickly to the other side of the table, allowing me an unobstructed view of the “specimen” and his pitiful victim. She was a slight girl with dark hair that curled upon the table in a fall of luxurious ringlets. The doctor leaned over and squinted at the chest of the beast pressed against her, peering across the body of the young girl whose eternal rest was broken by this unholy embrace, this death grip of an invader from the world of shadows and nightmare.

“Yes!” he called softly. “Most definitely Anthropophagi. Forceps, Will Henry, and a tray, please—No, the small one there, by the skull chisel. That’s the one.”

I somehow found the will to move from my spot, though my knees were shaking badly and I literally could not feel my feet. I kept my eyes on the doctor and tried my best to ignore the nearly overwhelming urge to vomit. I handed him the forceps and held the tray toward him, arms shaking, breathing as shallowly as possible, for the reek of decay burned in my mouth and lay like a scorching ember at the back of my throat.

Dr. Warthrop reached into the thing’s chest with the forceps. I heard the scraping of the metal against something hard—an exposed rib? Had this creature also been partially consumed? And, if it had, where was the other monster that had done it?

“Most curious. Most curious,” the doctor said, the words muffled by the mask. “No outward signs of trauma, clearly in its prime, yet dead as a doornail… . What killed you, Anthropophagus, hmmm? How did you meet your fate?”

As he spoke, the doctor tapped thin strips of flesh from the forceps into the metal tray, dark and stringy, like half-cured jerky, a piece of white material clinging to one or two of the strands, and I realized he wasn’t peeling off pieces of the monster’s flesh: The flesh belonged to the face and neck of the girl.

I looked down between my outstretched arms, to the spot where the doctor worked, and saw he had not been scraping at an exposed rib.

He had been cleaning the thing’s teeth.

The room began to spin around me. The doctor said, in a calm, quiet voice, “Steady, Will Henry. You’re no good to me unconscious. We have a duty this night. We are students of nature as well as its products, all of us, including this creature. Born of the same divine mind, if you believe in such things, for how could it be otherwise? We are soldiers for science, and we will do our duty. Yes, Will Henry? Yes, Will Henry?”

“Yes, Doctor,” I choked out. “Yes, sir.”

“Good boy.” He dropped the forceps into the metal tray. Flecks of flesh and bits of blood speckled the fingers of his glove. “Bring me the chisel.”

Gladly I returned to the instrument tray. Before I brought him the chisel, however, I paused to steel myself, as a good foot soldier for science, for the next assault.

Though it lacked a head, the Anthropophagus was not missing a mouth. Or teeth. The orifice was shaped like a shark’s, and the teeth were equally sharklike: triangular, serrated, and milky white, arranged in rows that marched toward the front of the mouth from the inner, unseen cavity of its throat. The mouth itself lay just below the enormous muscular chest, in the region between the pectorals and the groin. It had no nose that I could see, though it had not been blind in life: Its eyes (of which I confess I had seen only one) were located on the shoulders, lidless and completely black.

“Snap to, Will Henry!” the doctor called. I was taking too long to steel myself. “Roll the tray closer to the table; you’ll wear yourself out trotting back and forth.”

When the tray and I were in position, he reached out his hand, and I smacked the chisel into his palm. He slipped the instrument a few inches into the monster’s mouth and pushed upward, using the chisel as a pry bar to spread the jaws.

“Forceps!”

I slapped them into his free hand and watched as they entered the fang-encrusted maw … deeper, then deeper still, until the doctor’s entire hand disappeared. The muscles of his forearm bulged as he rotated his wrist, exploring the back of the thing’s throat with the tips of the forceps. Sweat shone on his forehead. I patted it dry with a bit of gauze.

“Would have dug a breathing hole—so it didn’t suffocate,” he muttered. “No visible wounds … deformities … outward sign of trauma… . Ah!” His arm became still. His shoulder jerked as he pulled on the forceps. “Stuck tight! I’ll need both hands. Take the chisel and pull back, Will Henry. Use both hands if you must, like this. Don’t let it slip, now, or I shall lose my hands. Yes, that’s it. Good boy. Ahhhh!”

He fell away from the table, left hand flailing to regain his balance, in his right the forceps, and in the forceps, a tangled strand of pearls, stained pink with blood. Finding his balance, the monstrumologist held high his hard-won prize.

“I knew it!” he cried. “Here is our culprit, Will Henry. He must have torn it off her neck in his frenzy. It lodged in his throat and choked him to death.”

I let go the chisel, stepped back from the table, and stared at the crimson strand dangling from the doctor’s hand. Light danced off its coating of blood and gore, and I felt the very air tighten around me, refusing to fully fill my lungs. My knees began to give way. I sank onto the stool, struggling to breathe. The doctor remained oblivious to my condition. He dropped the necklace into a tray and called for the scissors. To the devil with him, I thought. Let him fetch his own scissors. He called again, his back to me, hand outstretched, bloody fingers flexing and curling. I rose from the stool with a shuddering sigh and pressed the scissors into his hand.

“A singular curiosity,” he muttered as he cut down the center of the girl’s burial gown. “ Anthropophagi are not native to the Americas. Northern and western Africa, the Caroli Islands, but not here. Never here!”

Gingerly, almost tenderly, he parted the material, exposing the girl’s perfect alabaster skin.

Dr. Warthrop pressed the end of his stethoscope upon her belly and listened intently as he slowly moved the instrument toward her chest, then down again, across her belly button, until, back where he began, he paused, eyes closed, barely breathing. He remained frozen this way for several seconds. The silence was thundering.

Finally he tugged the ’scope from his ears. “As I suspected.” He gestured toward the worktable. “An empty jar, Will Henry. One of the big ones.”

He directed me to remove the lid and place the open container on the floor beside him.

“Hold on to the lid, Will Henry,” he instructed. “We must be quick about this. Scalpel!”

He bent to his work. Should I confess that I looked away? That I could not will my eyes to remain upon that glittering blade as it sliced into her flawless flesh? For all my desire to please and impress him with my steely resolve as a good foot soldier in the service of science, nothing could bring me to watch what came next.

“They are not natural scavengers,” he said. “ Anthropophagi prefer fresh kill, but there are drives even more powerful than hunger, Will Henry. The female can breed, but she cannot bear. She lacks a womb, you see, for that location of her anatomy is given to another, more vital organ: her brain… . Here, take the scalpel.”

I heard a soft squish as he plunged his fist into the incision. His right shoulder rotated as his fingers explored inside the young girl’s torso.

“But nature is ingenious, Will Henry, and marvelously implacable. The fertilized egg is expelled into her mate’s mouth, where it rests in a pouch located along his lower jaw. He has two months to find a host for their offspring, before the fetus bursts from its protective sac and he swallows it or chokes upon it… . Ah, this must be it. Ready now with the lid.”

His body tensed, and all became still for a moment. Then with a single dramatic flourish, he yanked from the split-open stomach a squirming mass of flesh and teeth, a doll-size version of the beast curled about the girl, encased in a milky white sac that burst open as the thing inside fought against the doctor’s grasp, spewing a foul-smelling liquid that soaked his coat and splattered around his rubber boots. He nearly dropped it, holding it against his chest while it twisted and flailed its tiny arms and legs, its mouth, armed with tiny razor-sharp teeth, snapping and spitting.

“The jar!” he cried. I slid it toward his feet. He dropped the thing into the container, and I did not need his urging to slap on the lid.

“Screw it tight, Will Henry!” he gasped. He was covered head to toe in the blood-flecked goop, the smell of it more pungent than that of the rotting flesh upon the table. The tiny Anthropophagus flipped and smacked inside the jar, smearing the glass with amniotic fluid, clawing at its prison with needle-size fingernails, mouth working furiously in the middle of its chest, like a landed fish gasping upon the shore. Its mewling cries of shock and pain were loud enough to penetrate the thick glass, a haunting, inhuman sound that I am doomed to remember to my last day.

Dr. Warthrop picked up the jar and placed it on the workbench. He soaked some cotton in a mixture of halothane and alcohol, dropped it into the jar, and screwed the lid back on. The infant monster attacked the cotton, stripping the fibers apart with its little teeth and swallowing chunks of it whole. Its aggression hastened the effects of the euthanizing agent: In less than five minutes the unholy spawn was dead.

© 2009 Rick Yancey

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 110 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 111 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A new addition to the pantheon of classic monster stories

    I will now officially join the chorus of readers who report picking up this book, reading a few pages, then staying up late into the night reading, eyes wide, needing to finish it to find out what happens.

    If Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King had a baby, it would be The Monstrumologist. This book is destined to be a classic.

    It does get gory in parts, but not gratuitously so. Highly recommended for adults, and kids that are old enough not to get nightmares from vividly told scary stories.

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Young reader12

    a particularity found this book to be amazing. I sat on the edge of my seat unable to put the book down. I have not yet finished the book but just felt like writing a review of it because i already am obsessing over it. I am a 12 year old young boy who loves action, so i recommend this book to anyone who has my personality. even though it is dark and horrific, i encourage anybody who loves to read to read this story.

    Thanks for reading, TCW

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    A Scary Good Read

    It's ironic that my son's favorite song that played over and over as I read this book was Skillet's "Monster!"

    It would do the author Rick Yancy injustice to give his book Monstrumologist a rating of only 4 stars because it scared me silly as I read it. In fact, it was magnificently written with such vivid descriptions that it creeped me out and drove me to keep reading until I was finished!

    This story is about a man who is given thirteen journals to read over from the deceased William Henry to determine if there are any remaining relatives that his journals can be passed on to. The man begins reading the diaries and learns about the supposed life of William Henry who resided and assisted a monstrumologist, (one who studies and hunts monsters) Dr. Warthrop. Will and Dr. Warthrop's latest study is the dreaded Anthropophagus: a large pale beast that hunts humans at night and has a headless body resembling a man. It also has eyes in its shoulders and a mouth on its chest filled with approximately 3,000 teeth aligned like those of a shark. The Anthropophagus, native to Africa, attacked not too far from Will and the doctor's home in New England, and so the two launch an investigation to determine how the monsters arrived at a place so far from their home.

    As I mentioned above, this is a fast-paced scary story with such vivid descriptions that I was compelled to keep reading until I had finished it. Monstrumologist is well-deserving of the Printz Honor it has been awarded with!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    Beautifully written

    Yes, I know this books fits into the horror category, but I still describe it as beautiful. The writing is superb. The voice incredible. Scary, yes, Gory, yes. Dark and creepy, you bet. Which, of course, is why I chose to read it. I never expected to love this book so much, though. I didn't expect such beautiful writing, but there you have it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    One of the few children/teen books I'd give a 5

    Disclaimer: NOT a book for kids.

    "The Monstrumologist" is a great story, fantastic but with a hint of realism that keeps you checking over your shoulder every few minutes.

    It's better for teens more than kids. I'm 18, but I still loved the book. Mr. Yancey usually writes for adults. This carries over into his children's fiction. The book is structured more like an adult read, with the same vocabulary and detail of plot, but the subject matter and shear amount of imagination involved keep it a book for younger people.

    My friend is obsessed with cryptozoology, the study of "mythological" creatures. I introduced her to this book shortly after reading it, and she loved it.

    We both agree that Mr. Yancey has a skill for making the implausible seem totally plausible. His uses the perfect amount of traceable history and actual science in his book to keep the reader constantly guessing whether or not he's telling the truth.

    Mr. Yancey actually makes many sound arguments in this book, too. Both of his main characters struggle with the idea of loss, specifically the loss of a parent. Another major theme is the discovery that a loved one isn't who you thought they were. Both Will Henry and Warthrop struggle with that realization in varying degrees. Finally, the entire book seems to wrap around the idea of ethics in science. The major question posed by the novel is "When is it ethically of morally justified to harm others in the search for knowledge?". Mr. Yancey explores this through his monsters, their thoughts and actions. Though, in this story, the term "monster" can apply to more than just the Anthropophagi.

    I would highly recommend this book to a fan of science fiction, mystery, or ethical disputes, as well, to that kid who secretly loved "Frankenstein" in school. The story can get gruesome at times, but its so very worth it.

    "The Curse of the Wendigo", Book #2, just came out. I can't wait to read it!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    Not worth the time

    When i got this book I had such high expectations for it just simply based on the reviews. Never again. This was the most drawn out book of my life. The description of two people sitting in a parlor went on forever. Word play got ridiculous...at some points it felt like a Dr. Seuss book. For a book about monsters there is surprisingly little of their involvemnt. Its more about the Dr. And his assistant with small bits actually pretaining to the monsters. Seriously, ive been in the forest reading about a platform being built for like 2 chapters. Its like watching sap drip from a tree. It was a great idea gone bad. Sorry.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2012

    Disturbing and fun

    Bloody and disgusting, but plenty of witty and dry humor in a combination that only British writers can pull off. A perfect book for curling up with only a nightlight on. NOT for children.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    excellent horror story

    Will Henry is the apprentice of a man who studies monsters. When a large family of anthropophagi, large flesh eating creatures with teeth in their bellies and eyes on their shoulders, attack New Jerusalem it's up to Will Henry and the doctor to destroy them. fans of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein will enjoy this well written horror story by Rick Yancey. Also, the sequel was released in October.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing read

    The monstrumologist was an amazing read. It had action, suspense and wonderful characters. It had a lot of humor in it also. I liked how the monstrumologist seemed to evolve and you could see how he grew closer to will henry and their relationship became stronger between eachother. It was really funny when you get to learn about dr. Kearns and his skeletons in his closet. He is mysterious and intriging and interesting to read about. I really liked how he seemed creepy at times and he seemed like a person that i would love to meet.
    I liked how the book sucked you in and didn't let you go. It was gruesome but amazing. It had moments where i didn't think it were possible to put the book down even to go to the restroom. I think that this book is a must read and is powerful. It is a good fantasy book that is great for rainy days and night reading.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Quite Something!

    I don't particularly like the author a lot, but he just got a hold of some old journal and published it. The result: one of the best books I've ever read! No wonder it got an award! (Although I bought my edition before it was awarded anything.) It was very suspenseful and I was loathe to put it down! When I finished it during lunch, I was very sad. However, in the epilogue, the author said that there were other journals besides the one published, so I am very much looking forward to another book (and possibly another!). This was overall a very compulsively readable novel: it's dark and creepy and violent, and, um... AWESOME!!!! Buy it. Now. Or you will regret it for the rest of your life.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 12, 2012

    I bought this book because it had two things that I was yearning

    I bought this book because it had two things that I was yearning for – horror and young adult. Horror novels have been my favorite for many, many years and I am always looking for the next one to scare me. And, young adult novels have quickly become one of my favorites so when I saw this one in the book store I decided to snatch it up.

    Let me first start by saying that this book may be too graphic for some readers. I was reading King when I was in elementary school so the things in this book, though gory and graphic at times didn’t affect me but that doesn’t mean they won’t turn the stomach of some readers.

    Will Henry has tragically lost his parents to a fire (you don’t find out just how tragic this was until the end of the book) and has become the ward of Dr. Pellinore Wathrop. The doctor studies monsters, and Will’s father was his assistant before his death. He devoted his life to the doctor’s studies, causing much fighting among his parents. Young Will never knew what was so important, but he found out all to quickly once he became the doctor’s assistant.

    One night there is a knock at the door – a knock that will change Will’s life forever. The caller, named Erasmus, has something he needs the Dr. to see, something so terrifying he can hardly speak. Something called Anthropophagi. What is that you might ask? A monster whose prey is humans…only humans. The description given in the book is so well written, if I had any artistic talent I could draw one right now. The author does an excellent job in painting a picture so that the reader never struggles to envision what is going on. What about the plot? Overall I did enjoy the story but it was quite slow at points. Unlike other reviews I have seen I enjoyed the relationship between the Dr. and Will, and how it came to evolve by the end of the book. In the beginning I wasn’t sure how Will put up with the lifestyle but I came to understand how much they meant to each other. I did have one gripe about the book, and it may seem ridiculous but as I kept reading it kept bothering me more and more. After describing the size of the Anthropophagi, and their voracious appetite, why didn’t they need to eat more and more often?

    **SMALL SPOILER ALERT***

    At one point they leave behind so much carnage while killing a family I had to wonder, why didn’t they eat it all? Why was there anything left to even identify? Especially when the count is estimated at at least 30. It might seem like a small point and I certainly don’t know the size of their stomach…at least I don’t think you ever find out. But, the comparison to humans in stature, and lions or some other killer of that nature in their instinct, it just didn’t make sense.

    All in all I enjoyed this book but am not running out to get the next in the series. I may read it at some point but just felt like the plot dragged enough to make me want to hurry through and be done, even though there was a decent story buried in there.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2012

    I could not put this book down, it was a great read can not wait

    I could not put this book down, it was a great read can not wait to start the next one " the curse of the wendigo"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2012

    This is the best YA horror/monster story I have read. I seriousl

    This is the best YA horror/monster story I have read. I seriously wish there were more in the genera like it but so far nothing can compare to the fantastic creatures or the Monstrumologist himself.
    This book is full of twists and turns; shocks and gore; all of it written with splendor and ironically enough charm. Admittedly there were a few scenes that I had to put the book down for, and I was even gagging over one, but that it what makes a fantastic book; when you can be completely wrapped up in a character or scene that it becomes almost real.
    I've recommended this to several people, all of whom loved it, even my boyfriend who reads far less then I do could not put this book down, and we practically competed over who would get to read the third book of the series first. We finally had to settle on reading it together, out loud.
    I hope Mr. Yancey continues to write this series of monster stories, it has become one of my favorites.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Good

    I thought that it w as a great book but it was confusing at times but i recommen it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    A Book that sets a high standard!

    I loved this book! The author did a great job at giving just enough description to give you the whole picture, I enjoyed every second of this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Great book!

    This is a great book it is so thrilling and a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Great book.

    I read this book in 2 weeks and i have to admit it was one of thw best mystery/action book ive ever read. I deffinetely reccomend it.



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Well well well

    This book in my opinion was probably one of the best I've ever read. I'm not much into horror stories but this book has a way of subtly scaring you at a moment's notice. it's detailed, graphic, and is full of odd twists and turns, I could be like a lot of people an just tell you the whole story but it wouldn't be fun to read. I strongly recommend it, even if horror stories are not your thing, it's quirky and interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Creepy new creatures! Excellent page turner!

    Excellent read! Yancey really keeps the tension going in this book and the characters are excellent (not to mention the creatures which are totally new and totally terrifying!). I couldn't put this one down. This has an X-Files/Sherlock Holmes feel and while it's marketed for teens, this is definitely a crossover that adults will love too. I've ordered the next two books in this series and can't wait to read them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    Love it!

    This book is fantastic!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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