I had no intention of reading this at first; well, no intention to read it now while it’s still only available as a hardcover book. But the numerous reviews of it I’ve read and a friend’s enthusiasm for the story got me interested and pushed me to purchase a hardback copy to read. And I’m glad I did because I ended up really liking the story too.
But I still wish I’d waited for the trade paperback to be published.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.
This is the first time that while online shopping I’ve had an experience akin to shopping in a bookstore. Usually I only purchase books I’m already familiar with online but this time, I picked up something new. Something I’ve never heard of. I didn’t even like the cover. It was the title that caught my attention. After reading the synopsis, I decided to get it. How far would Yancey go in his exploration of monsters, I wondered. Would he go so deep as to show humanity in monsters and monstrosity in humans?
The story that makes up The Monstrumologist is relayed in the diaries of Will Henry. They were found after he died (sometime in 2007) and given to Rick Yancey. In this book, the first volume of his diaries, it’s 1888 and Will is the 12-year-old orphaned apprentice to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a monstrumologist, a scientist who studies organisms generally considered monsters and, in some cases, hunts them.
One night, Dr. Warthrop and Will receive a visitor with an unusual package — a monster that died while eating a young woman. The doctor informs Will that the monster is an anthropophagus, a headless predator that resembles humans in stature except its mouth is in its chest. They also receive another surprise — a baby anthropophagus within the body of the young woman. The doctor concludes that anthropophagi are in the area and makes preparations to uncover how they appeared on American soil and why in New England within the vicinity of a monstrumologist.
Their quest for answers and eventually to root out and kill the anthropophagi takes Dr. Warthrop and Will on quite an adventure on which Will learns that monsters come in many forms and sometimes fear helps as much as it hinders us.