This is the trust I never betrayed.
So begins the journal of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore War throp, 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 grueso me find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.
Critically acclaimed author Rick Yancey has written a gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does a man become the very thing he hunts? (from book cover)
I started reading this some time ago, and then rather stupidly left it at a friend's house when we were visiting, so only managed to get it back and finish it over the last week. If you have read my earlier posts you will remember that I was moaning about the differences in cover design between the US and UK versions of this book. I wrote at the time that the UK design "is 'cartoon-ish' in nature and may attract younger readers who could find some of the content a little too dark." Having finished the book I stand by this statement completely - it is a very dark and pretty terrifying book in places. Rick Yancey is an exceptional writer whose descriptive writing is outstanding, and for this reason many passages of the book contain some extremely graphic details regarding the monsters' attacks, parasitic infestation, fatal injuries, and so on. If this were a movie, it would definitely have an 18 certificate.
The vocabulary used in the book is also more suited to older readers. The book is written as if it is the journal of the main character written as an old man about his experiences as a boy. For this reason the language is not that used by a 12 year old boy, but by someone with a much more accomplished use of language and a much wider vocabulary. For this reason it took me a little longer to 'settle into' the book than normal, as I was initially finding it difficult to get into the mind of Will Henry, the main character. However, a little perseverance brought its rewards, as I was soon in that wonderful position of not being able to put the book down. The story pulls you in, page by page, and like a good psychological horror film you are left with a growing sense of unease as you progress through the book. In fact, there are some scenes that made me distinctly uncomfortable because I was enjoying reading them, yet part of me was feeling guilty for that enjoyment.
If you are a big fan of Mr Yancey's Alfred Kropp trilogy then beware - this book is very different, principally due to the lack of humour. In fact, it is only in the last third of the book, when a distinctly nasty character is introduced, that i finally found myself chuckling occasionally, but even then the humour is very dark indeed. The chapters are also very long in places and this may cause younger readers some frustration or boredom.
Overall, I can highly recommend this to older readers who have grown up on a diet of Darren Shan - this will take you to new levels of horror reading and could be your springboard into reading horror novels written for adults. If you do enjoy it then it is certainly worth your while to investigate the writings of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe in the future.