Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on October 16, 2013 | 9 Comments

Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick YanceyThe Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Series: The Monstrumologist #1
Published by Simon & Schuster (9.22.2009)
Genres: Historical Fiction, Horror, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 447 pages
Source: I own it
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4 Stars

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 Warthorpe, 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?

My thoughts

 This book was very tough to rate for me. I had extremely bipolar thoughts about this book, and the rating should be broken down as such:

Scenes with the Anthropophagi

Scenes without the Anthropophagi

It’s no secret that I am NOT a fan of historical by any means, and I had no clue going into this that it would be historical (I saw Rick Yancey + gruesome horror and didn’t bother to read anymore). So, I was bored to tears in the beginning. To be honest, I very nearly DNFed this book in the first 100 pages or so. I sure am glad I didn’t!

I could totally see this book being a movie! I think I would actually like it better as a movie, because I wouldn’t have found it so boring. I want so desperately for Guillermo Del Toro to pick it up, because I know he could pull off the monstrous Anthropophagi!

DEISIGN_Anthropophagi_The_MonstrumologistSource: This person did an AWESOME job at bringing them to life!

The Anthropophagi were what made this book for me. They were scary, murderous monsters; the stuff of nightmares! They could rip a person to shreds in a matter of seconds. I loved it! The scenes featuring these creatures were intense and VERY gruesome! I love gory stuff, so of course I was enraptured. Be warned: This book is not for the faint of heart. It goes into very realistic detail of the gore. There were a couple of times that even was grossed out! It takes a lot to make me cringe, but the two things I can’t handle were featured: Maggots and vomiting. 


Something I did not like about reading this book: Purple prose. At times I felt like I was reading a college textbook. Some of the language was very advanced, and more than once I had to look something up because I’d never even heard of the word before (um, vicissitudes). There were some paragraphs so laden with it that I had to read them several times just to understand, and many times I found myself unable to focus on what I was reading. Now, I don’t mind intellect, because even though I may feel a bit stupid for having to look things up, I’m learning something. But, it wasn’t consistent. Most of the book was pretty normal, then there were times where it randomly lapsed into that kind of language. And it was all dumped into one or two paragraphs! The beginning was very bad with this for some reason.

I also felt nothing (aside from enthrallment in the monster scenes). Will Henry came off as very bland to me, and I couldn’t connect with him at all. He hardly seemed to have his own thoughts, he was so governed by the Monstrumologist. Plus the prose was so dry, I felt disconnected through lack of interest.

It didn’t get better until the last half. In the first 2/3 of the book, there were only several appearances of the Anthropophagi. But those crazy intense scenes were enough to keep me interested! I was originally going to give this 3.5 heartbeats, but it was so unique and gruesome that I know it will leave a lasting impression, and that’s important to me.


Parents, like the earth beneath our feet and the sun above our heads, are immutable objects, eternal and reliable. If one should fall, who might vouch the sun itself won’t fall, burning into the sea?

Perhaps that is our doom, our human curse, to never really know each other. We erect edifices in our minds about the flimsy framework of word and deed, mere totems of the true person, who, like the gods to whom the temples were built, remains hidden. 





While it still didn’t scare me, it was delightfully gruesome and I loved it! As far as horror goes, this one is the darkest and most monstrous!

Overall Assessment

Plot: 4/5
Premise: 5/5
Writing style: 3/5
Originality: 5/5
Characters: 1/5
World-building: 4/5
Pace: 2.5/5
Feels: 2/5
Cover: 3/5
Overall rating: 4/5

Jessi (Geo)

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9 responses to “Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

  1. I’m glad you didn’t give up! I like historical fiction, so I loved the setting and thought it worked well to enhance the creepy atmosphere. But I definitely agree that the Anthropophagi made this book! I don’t do gore, but I oddly loved this one. :D

    • I really think if I loved historical and didn’t find the prose so dry and technical that I this could have been a 5 star read for me. The Anthropophagi were amazing!!! See I DO like gore, so this one was right up my alley ;)

  2. *sigh* Well at least you enjoyed the book for something if not for the historical. :D I’ve had my eye on this one for a while! I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it whenever I get around to it. Dang, that does sound gory! I can usually handle gory in books pretty well vs on the screen. And now that I know it’s a historical setting I’m even more intrigued. Haha.

    <333 Inky

  3. Hmm….on the one hand I seriously am not a fan of historical fiction or giant scary words that make me loose focus. On the other hand, GORE! Hmm… guess I’ll pick it up and take a peek. :)

  4. First of all, the cover is mega creepy! I actually get annoyed when I have to look up multiple words, especially if I think the author could have said it as good or better using normal words. I like my stories to be to the point and looking up words breaks it up too much for my taste.

    At the same time, this one sounds interesting. I love books with high quality monsters.

    • Yeah, I like a higher level of prose, but like Jay Kristoff level, not college textbook level. I just get frustrated and bored when I don’t understand it.
      It’s still worth a try though, if only for the nightmarish creatures!

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