The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey

Publisher: Simon & Schuster’s Children’s
Genre: YA Horror
Pages: 448
Call Number: Y Yancey

“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 begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, 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. [summary from Goodreads]

The case starts out simple enough – the grave robber brings to Warthrop the corpse of a young girl inexplicably entwined with the dead body of a monstrous creature – but their search for what the creature is and how it got into the grave quickly becomes complicated. After a deadly trip to the local cemetery and some late-night dissections, Dr. Warthrop becomes convinced that the monster is an Anthropophagi, a hellish species his father had studied, and that the cemetery is their breeding ground. Their search to uncover more about creatures leads them from the graveyard to the mad house and into the past of both Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop.

The setting – New England in the late 19th century – is gloomy and bleak, perfect for such a dark story, and the haunted, driven characters fit the world perfectly. The Anthropophagi, far from being supernatural creatures, are wholly of the real world and are much scarier because of it – think about your local community being overrun by violent, man-eating animals at the top of the food chain and you’ll get the idea.

While the story has plenty of nail-biting suspense, hair-raising scares, and festivals of gore, it’s also a story about relationships, particularly of sons and their fathers: the son’s eternal striving to either live up to his father’s deeds, surpass them, or atone for them. Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop’s relationship is dysfunctional at best, shades of father/son and mentor/apprentice but not quite living up to either, but at the same time they need each other, if only because no one else needs them.

This is not a silly kid’s book about monsters that nobody would find scary. It’s not a B-movie. It’s not for the easily frightened or squeamish. What it is, is one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read (and I’m including adult books here, too), genuinely scary, fascinatingly gross, and psychologically complex.

If you like horror novels, this is the one to read.


Twilight contest winners!

Here are the winners for the Twilight fan fiction contest:

First place: “Extended Family” by Sarah
Second place: “An Eye for Seth” by Maddy
Third place: [No Title] by Tyler

All the winners are being contacted directly by phone or e-mail. Thanks to everyone for participating —  we had fun reading the entries! Definitely keep writing and keep sending your stories out for contests and publications for young writers. (I’ll post some links for teen writers in the next day or two.)

Judges were local author Todd Fahnestock; Katie, a teen member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, and myself. The judges’ comments will be available to the writers upon request.

Printz Award Winners 2010

The Michael L. Printz award is for excellence in young adult literature (it’s the Newbery for teen books), and the 2010 winner and honor books were just announced here.

This year’s winner is Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Click here for the book’s web site, and here’s a brief summary of the book, courtesy of Ingram’s: “All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school–and life in general–with a minimum of effort. But that’s before he’s given the news that he’s dying. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure–if he’s willing to go in search of it.”We have this in our new YA books section, call number Y Bray.

Honor books this year are:
Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman
The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey. Y Yancey (new YA books section).
Punkzilla, by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground, by John Barnes. Y Barnes (new YA books section).

My review of The Monstrumologist will show up on this site soon — I loved this super creepy Victorian horror novel and it’s one of my favorites for the year. I haven’t read the other award winners/honor books yet, but if you have and would like to post your opinion in the comments, feel free!

Best Books of 2009 – Fiction

This is the time when everyone comes out with their “best of” lists, and I’ve compiled a few here for you. If you’re looking to read the best teen fiction of the year, you could do worse to follow these suggestions from Booklist, School Library Journal, the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, and The Horn Book Magazine (all magazines that review a large number of teens books). Under the cut, you can see follow the links for each magazine to see the full list — I’ve just posted the teen fiction for jr. high and high school students and our call number if we have the books here. (** On multiple lists)


All the Broken Pieces. By Ann Burg. J Burg.
The Ask and the Answer. By Patrick Ness. Y Ness.
Burn My Heart. By Beverley Naidoo. Y Naidoo.
Catching Fire. By Suzanne Collins. Y Collins.
Crossing Stones. By Helen Frost. On order.
The Eternal Smile. By Gene Luen Yang. Y Yang.
**Fire. By Kristin Cashore. Y Cashore.
Going Bovine. By Libba Bray. Y Bray.
Heroes of the Valley. By Jonathan Stroud. Y Stroud.
Jumped. By Rita Williams-Garcia. Y Williams-Garcia.
**Marcelo in the Real World. By Francisco X. Stork. Y Stork.
The Monstrumologist. By Rick Yancey. Y Yancey.
Punkzilla. By Adam Rapp.
Rosie and Skate. By Beth Ann Bauman. On order.
Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia. By Cindy Pon. Y Pon.
**Tales from Outer Suburbia. By Shaun Tan. Y Tan.
**Wintergirls. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Y Anderson.

School Library Journal

Hate List. By Jennifer Brown.
**Fire. By Kristin Cashore. Y Cashore.
**The Lost Conspiracy. By Frances Hardinge. Y Hardinge.
Liar. By Justine Larbalestier. Y Larbalestier.
**The Carbon Diaries 2015. Saci Lloyd. Y Lloyd.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster. Banjamin Alire Saenz. Y Saenz.
**Marcelo in the Real World. Francisco X. Stork. Y Stork.
Creature of the Night. Kate Thompson. Y Thompson.
Leviathan. Scott Westerfeld. Y Westerfeld.

Bulletin Blue Ribbons

**Wintergirls. By Laurie Halse Anderson. Y Anderson.
Graceling. By Kristin Cashore. Y Cashore.
**The Lost Conspiracy. By Frances Hardinge. Y Hardinge.
**Tales from Outer Suburbia. By Shaun Tan. Y Tan.
The Spectacular Now. By Tim Tharp. Y Tharp.
Perpetual Check. By Rich Wallace.

The Horn Book Fanfare

**The Carbon Diaries 2015. By Saci Lloyds. Y Lloyds.
**Marcelo in the Real World. By Francisco X. Stork. Y Stork.