Set in 1888 New England, orphaned Will Henry lives with his late father’s employer, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, and acts as his assistant. Warthrop is the Monstrumologist of the title, a scientist who studies monsters. The story opens with the night time delivery of a body stolen from the cemetery. That in itself is not startling to Will Henry, but this time, it’s different. There are two bodies; the young woman the grave robber was after, and a monster with no head and a shark-like mouth in his chest. This is the anthropophagi, a species found in Africa and no where else. What is it doing in a New England cemetery?
The story unfolds with constant action in dark, fetid places: the doctor’s basement autopsy lab, open graves, tunnels underground. There is constant peril- the anthropophagi are stronger and faster than humans, and are eternally hungry. Needless to say, they are strictly carnivorous, preferring human meat to all else. Warthrop, Will Henry and the slimy, showy John Kearn, another monstrumologist, strive to find out how these beasts came to be in America and where their nest is before they can devastate the people in the area. This was one of those couldn’t put it down books for me. Not only is the mystery intriguing and the danger unrelenting, but the characters are compelling and interesting. After I finished the book, I was VERY happy to discover that it’s the first of a series- without the clumsiness that first books often have. This novel would make a great movie; Warthrop, of course, should be played by Christopher Lee. When I’d read John Kearn’s dialogue, I was hearing it in Kelsey Grammer’s voice.
One note: this book is marked Young Adult, and, indeed, I would have loved it as a tween. But there is a LOT of blood and graphic violence; some parents might think twice about letting their kids read this if they are sensitive about these things.
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