Anthropophagi, Assistants, and Monsters REVIEWING The Monstrumologist

Welcome to The Real World According To Sam!! This is another Halloween 2020 post. All month long, every day, I will be reviewing or showcasing different books I think may be good for the Halloween season.

 The Monstrumologist

Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: YA Horror Fantasy
Year: 2009

The Monstrumologist


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. 

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet. 

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: when does man become the very thing he hunts?


The Monstrumologist is the story of Will Henry. The book begins by talking about diaries that have been found, which were written by Will Henry after his passing. The diaries were written about Will Henry's time as an assistant to a monstrumologist. They were written when he was older, so the narration is that of an adult, telling us what happened to them as a young child. Therefore, we kind of end up with a hybrid narrator, crossing between being an adult reflecting on their experience, and a child who is being thrown into some really crazy situations. It is a very interesting and creative blend that I really enjoyed. It isn't a narrative style I have seen very often in the books I've read. 

At this point you may be wondering what in the world a monstrumologist is. Dr. Pellinore Warthrop is the man Will Henry serves as an assistant for. Will Henry's father used to be Warthrop's assistant, but due to tragic circumstances, Will Henry ends up living with him and becoming his assistant, presumably for many years. Dr. Warthrop is seen as a bit of an eccentric man, who is largely to be avoided. He studies monsters, literally. He is part of a society focused entirely on monster studies. He is very much a scientist and is very dedicated to his work. A new monster has popped up in the area that Warthrop and Will Henry live in, leading to hunts and studies, in an effort to figure out how they arrived and prevent them from killing more people. 

A review on the cover of the book included from VOYA describes this story as a blend of Mary Shelley and Stephen King. Based on the Stephen King books I have read so far, I feel I have to disagree. I think this book could be more accurately be described as a blend between Mary Shelley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Why? The subject matter, the setting, and Dr. Pellinore Warthrop's manner of carrying himself. The story has very grotesque elements, in a Victorian type of setting, following a man who is very obsessed with his work. Dr. Pellinore Warthrop is honestly very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock Holmes focused on monsters instead of crimes and standard detective work. Warthrop dissects things, becomes so obsessive with his "cases" that he forgets about potentially having normal human needs, and he lacks the ability to interact and relate to people. There are many awkward conversations that quickly lead us to know Warthrop is definitely not a people person. He also believes that even in the business of monsters, there is logic to be used and patterns to be found. He is brilliant with his work, but lacking when it comes to empathy and human relations. I absolutely LOVE IT. 

This book is not for the faint-hearted. It is a YA novel, but don't let that fool you! It gets pretty gory, but it never feels like it's done out of wanting to shock you. Each gory bit feels like it belongs and is necessary in telling the story. This is where I feel like it diverts from what I've read from King. So far, most of his gory parts seem to be for shock value or they feel rather clunky. The Monstrumologist is incredibly smooth and flowing in its prose, even when handling grotesque scenes. I honestly think Yancey has created a masterpiece with this book. There is a lot of mystery, lots of layers to unwrap. The characters are interesting and very well developed. The monsters are genuinely scary and freaky. Yet the prose in this book is so well done. It flows wonderfully and it really harkens back to older novels in some of the vocabulary, expressions, and allusions. There are allusions to Shakespeare here, which I loved and noted. There are lengthy, but necessary descriptions of aspects. This book takes its time to really unfold a new world in front of the reader and suck them into its dark, creepy story. 

Will Henry is very relatable as a character and he is the kind of kid you feel bad for, while admiring. He has been dealt a very bad card, and he often ends up conflicted, but you keep hoping he will be okay. Warthrop is again, very Sherlockian. These two as a working pair are so much fun to read about. They have similarities, but they end up being two very different people and you know they'll end up on very different paths. I am excited to read more about the adventures they have. 

This book is incredible. It is a bit lengthier than the previous books we have discussed. The copy I read was 434 pages long, and I was able to get through it in about two days because of how absorbed into the story I was. It is pretty thick though and I think most people will have to spend a few more days with it. I think this one is definitely a Halloween worthy read and I would love to re-read this one after finishing the series. I usually don't do horror on a regular basis, but I really like the way this book is written. I'm very psyched to read the rest of the series. I give The Monstrumologist a Lone Star rating of ✯✯✯✯. This was a perfect read for me right now and I highly recommend it to my friends who love to read. Give this one a shot and see what you think, but be aware that it really can be visually horrifying in its descriptions. Not for those with a weak reading stomach at all. 

This concludes another review here at The Real World According To Sam, where I bring the books straight to your screen and even provide my own two cents about them. See you tomorrow!