By Rick Yancey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
To Sum It Up: Young Will Henry follows in his father’s footsteps as Dr. Warthrop’s assistant. After a fire leaves him orphaned, the distant and eccentric doctor takes him in. He drags Will into a world of nightmares and horror: the study of monstrumology. One night, a grave robber seeks the expertise of Dr. Warthrop, and the events that follow will be more dangerous than the doctor has ever encountered before.
Review: This is exactly my kind of book! From the Gothic setting to the philosophical depth to the amazing amounts of gore, this book is awesome! Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop are complex characters who share a complicated relationship. Thrown together by tragedy, they are everything to each other, but even though they acknowledge this, I think they still struggle with what this means. Will is very loyal and constantly seeks the praise of Dr. Warthrop, but he also has no trouble outwardly admitting what he hates about the doctor. Although Warthrop seems to be cold and demanding, as the story progresses, it is easy to see that he really does care about the boy. The dynamic between these characters is interesting and realistic. The relationship is so well developed that the reader is able to learn more about each character based on how they treat each other.
As a disclaimer, this book is quite gory, so steer clear if that stuff makes you uncomfortable. It does not bother me in the least; in fact, my philosophy is: the gorier, the better! I think the grossness reveals a kind of sincerity in that our darkest nightmares are not pleasant and by definition, make us squeamish. In a way, I think it makes the story more realistic. That being said, the story is also not unnecessarily grotesque. It is so cleverly written that I was engrossed and appalled at the same time, which I consider a plus.
Additionally, this novel has the sort of depth I really enjoy in a book. Throughout the story, various ethical dilemmas are exposed. Even though the characters choose to do one thing or think a certain way, other characters also present a different perspective on the situation. This really forces the reader to think about what his/her view is on the subject and if he/she would have acted as the characters in the story did. Of course most stories have a sense of right and wrong, but I feel like a lot of this story is in more of a gray area. I felt like I was prompted to look more thoroughly into the characters than in quite a few other books I have read.
All in All: I have not read a book that I have become so attached to in such a long time. I loved this book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest in the series. I highly suggest that you check this one out. If you have read it, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I have to buy this series!