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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 the Hardcover edition.
*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 the Hardcover edition.
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When Warthrop's best friend and arch nemesis goes missing, Warthrop agrees to go to Canada to find John Chanler. Chanler was sent by the head of the Monstrumology Society, Dr. von Helrung, to find tangible proof that the Wendigo truly did exist and have it entered into the list of existing monsters. Warthrop knows the Wendigo is just a myth, but nonetheless, Chanler has still gone missing. He and Will Henry set off to find the missing scientist only to find themselves lost in the wilderness and being hunted by something that neither of them can explain. They find Chanler, but returning to civilization is no easy feat.
When they finally find their way back to the town, Warthrop refuses to admit anything was hunting them. He convinces Will Henry it was all dehydration and exhaustion playing tricks on their minds, but Will Henry can't forget those yellow eyes. Chanler is returned to his wife in New York City and Warthrop and Will Henry head to the same city for the annual Monstrumologist convention. But went they find Chanler being kept under guard in von Helrung's house, not a hospital, Warthrop accuses the old scientist of losing his mind and endangering Chanler's life. What they don't expect is for Chanler to quickly devolve into more beast than man. Can you still question the existence of a Wendigo when it is rampaging through the city and hunting your own apprentice? Dr. Pellinore Warthrop can!
When I try to describe Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, I always find myself claiming him to be a male Temperance Brennan, from the television show "Bones". He isn't heartless, he is just very scientific and logical, to the point of seeming to be without emotion. In the first book, however, it became very clear that he cared very much for the orphan boy he took in. In this book, that fatherly devotion grows to the point where Warthrop even considers sending Will Henry away to protect him from the dangerous profession of Monstrumology. In fact, the relationship between the young apprentice and the doctor is what makes me love this series so much. Warthrop doesn't care much about the lives of other people, but he would do anything to keep Will Henry safe- even send away the only person he actually cares about. And sometimes, when Warthrop is describing something very clinically, and Will Henry is struggling to maintain his composure and not laugh out loud in front of the doctor, I found myself cracking up! The very dynamic between the two is hilarious.
I think this is a good series for most junior high through high school students. It is set at the turn of the century, so the historical aspects of New York City at that time are very interesting (giant piles of horse poo from the carriages!). There is certainly some violence with the rescue and escape of John Chanler and Will Henry always seems to find himself in grave danger, much to the irritation of Dr. Warthrop. There are some times when the story slows a little bit, so a stronger reader with a little stamina might be necessary. Still, these are great books that have a subtle humor that will keep you sniggering and giggling right along with Will Henry!
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.