Here I am, finally getting these reviews out. So far my reading in 2020 has been sluggish; I think it’s because I’m so backed up on reviews. I need to get them out my head before moving on no matter how interesting the stories I’m currently reading are.
Anyway, here’s one I read in 2019 that was pretty good.
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
First of all, I’m in a funky reading mood. I don’t think it’s a reading slump though. It started with me not knowing what to read next after completing my last book of last year, Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling. It then progressed to me feeling lethargic whenever I try to read the books I currently have on the go, The Witches by Stacy Schiff and Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed, and now it has made me indecisive about what I should read.
I can’t tell if I’m just not in the mood to read, or if the books I’m reading aren’t very interesting.
I kind of suspect that the book format I’m using may be to blame: e-books. The Witches is a nonfiction book and though it’s easy to read, it requires a lot of focus to keep the facts and people straight, which is difficult for me to do when reading an e-book. I spend so much time staring at screens throughout my day that when I try to read after a long day in the office or working at home, the last thing I want to do is experience a dense read on a device that strains my eyes. I guess that’s why I keep dozing off whenever I attempt to read either The Witches or Tiny Beautiful Things despite my interest in their content.
As part of my Horror Reading Challenge for this year, I decided to read Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot. I’m slowly working my way through all his books, in publication order, to see how far I’ll get before I’m too scared to continue. At first, I wasn’t very enthused to read this book because I anticipated it being scary and I didn’t much like Carrie, so I was surprised when I started to like it and even more when I was impressed.
‘Salem’s Lot is set in a small town in Maine called Jerusalem’s Lot. It’s told from various points-of-view but our protagonist is Ben Mears, a writer who returns to the Lot to confront his childhood fear — a creepy, old house called the Marsten House — and write about it. While in town, he meets a pretty young woman named Susan and a relationship blossoms between them.
About the same time that Ben appears in town, two men show up to take residence at the Marsten House and open an antique furniture store. One is the mysterious Richard Straker, who people see about town and at the store; but the other, Kurt Barlow, is never seen and is said to be a recluse. Though the men keep to themselves, there is something sinister about their dealings and especially about the Marsten House. When people start to go missing, Ben and a few friends begin to investigate what’s going on.
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.
Since I tend to shy away from books that would terrify me, I don’t have such a book on my shelf. However, there is one book I’d like to read but am procrastinating on because I think it would be scary and it’s this —