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The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist) Paperback – September 13, 2011
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From School Library Journal
YANCEY, Rick. The Curse of the Wendigo. Bk. 2. 423p. (Monstrumologist Series). S & S. 2010. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8450-4; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8973-8. LC number unavailable. ~Gr 9 Up–Will Henry, assistant to monstrumologist Pellinore Warthrop, finds a woman at his doorstep who seeks Warthrop's help in recovering her missing husband. He vanished while in search of a mythical creature known as the Wendigo, a vampirelike monster whose hunger for human flesh is insatiable. Will Henry and Warthrop travel to Canada to find Jack Fiddler, a Native shaman who was the last person to see Chanler alive. While he puts forward a supernatural scenario for Chanler's disappearance, Warthrop is convinced that there is a rational scientific explanation for everything, even when faced with seemingly incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. His stubborn commitment to the rational is challenged by his own mentor, Dr. von Helrung, who is about to propose that the Monstrumology Society accept mythological monsters as real. Refusing to accept what Chanler has become, Warthrop ends up endangering not only himself and Will but also the only woman he has ever loved. The style is reminiscent of older classic horror novels, such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, mixed with the storytelling sensibilities of Dickens. The ever-present, explicitly detailed, over-the-top, disgusting gore, however, is very much a product of modern times. The Curse of the Wendigo is certain to be popular with fans of The Monstrumologist (S & S, 2009), and the horror genre in general, but the disturbing, cynical tone makes the most appropriate audience for this book uncertain.–Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Examples of literary horror don’t come much finer than The Monstrumologist (2009), and Yancey’s second volume sustains that high bar with lush prose, devilish characterizations, and more honest emotion than any book involving copious de-facings (yes, you read that right) ought to have. The new case: lepto luranis, aka the Wendigo, a vampiric creature whose mythic origins have monstrumologists divided. If they accept the existence of mystic shape-shifters, is not their “science” balderdash? Dr. Pellinore Warthrop has no interest until his former true love appears and begs him to find her husband—once Warthrop’s best friend—who has gone missing in search of the creature. Yes, female characters have arrived to the series and smashingly so, none better than Lilly, the talkative 13-year-old scientist who gives Warthrop’s faithful assistant, Will, his first kiss. The Monstrumologist was more propulsive, but the worthy trade-off here is the introduction of an alternate, monster-plagued 1888 New York, complete with irresistible historical cameos. So far, Yancey has written both books in the Monstrumologist series as if they were the last, going for broke and playing for keeps, no matter who or what ends up on the chopping block. This is Warthrop’s The Hound of the Baskervilles; if we hold our breath, maybe part 3 will come faster. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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About halfway through the book however, 'Van Helrung' comes to the fore. Without ruining it for the reader - I was floored when I realized just how Yancey fit him into the universe of this novel. Suddenly this book became everything that I had wanted but did not get out of the disappointing 'Anno Dracula'. The original Dracula is one of my all-time favorite stories, and Yancey's writing and universe is the closest I've ever come to finding a modern successor to Stoker and Blackwood. I'm also a huge fan of historical fiction, even when its more fiction than historical, and it was a pleasure to find that even the most minor names in his story were actual people, and done seamlessly with a minimum of contrivance. As if that's not enough, the thrilling final hunt reminded me of another favorite book, Perdido Street Station. His handling of the Wendigo itself contains both a reverent and a cheeky nod to Blackwood's story, but is also an original and chilling new interpretation.
I loved the book. I loved the blend of horror and historical fiction, it hit all the right notes for me. Despite an extremely dark story there's a really human element to his writing and the relationships in it, which is either missing or clumsily done by most authors in this genre. Real horror is magnified when you actually care about the characters! For classic horror fans, I highly recommend checking this series out. I greatly look forward to reading the rest of the series.
"The Curse of the Wendigo" continues Will and Warthrop's adventures (after a slight time lapse, of course) as Warthrop is enlisted by a former paramour to find her husband, who was also Warthrop's "friend" (as much as anybody can be his friend) and fellow student of monstrumology. Cue the duo's travels to the north, where they encounter the legendary Wendigo, a being that divides monstrumology between those who believe certain creatures should be included in the study while others (like Warthrop) vehemently deny their existence.
Like its predecessor, "The Curse of the Wendigo" offers quite a bit of adventure, introspection, and existential crises, both for Will and Warthrop. While the previous book focused on the sins of the father, this one definitely emphasizes the fall of the prideful. You also find out quite a bit about Warthrop's past and meet quite a cast of characters, ranging from the fictitious to the historic. As always, Yancey astounds with his descriptions, captures your imagination with the plot, and blankets a philosophical piece in the garb of a youth horror novel. There is quite a bit to be gleaned from and ruminated over, and you'll find yourself wanting more after you finish. (Or perhaps wanting less, if the gore scares you off!)
The action of the book is still there (if a bit more spread out) and while the horror is not quite as "in your face" there is plenty to commend about it. From surprise cannibalism to time racing autopsies, this book will still make you wince! Also the character development continues especially with the doctor if not as prominently with Will Henry (looks like Yancey could be saving him for the final book). In addition, the book offers much more than the first about Monstrumology and even visits the headquarters of its society.
The biggest problem I had with this sequel is that its focus on science was not nearly as prominent as in the first book. I really enjoyed the fact that Warthrop is a scientist and does not buy into the mystical and instead looks towards evolution. Very rarely does a horror book build in science to explain and expand on the presence of the monsters within its pages. That said, "Curse of the Wendigo" does not do this and instead leaves the reader to move into the realm of the mystical by focusing on a condition that is never explained. Warthrop is faithful to his science and denies the supernatural qualities of the curse to the end, but looks foolish for doing so by the book's finish. My own science background made this change very annoying.
Overall though "The Curse of the Wendigo" is well worth the read if you enjoyed the first of the series.