“The man riding beside me suffered not from the naive illusions of well-meaning parents who, with calm voice and gentle touch, extinguished the bright, hot embers of a child’s fiery imagination. He knew the truth. Yes, my dear child, he would undoubtedly tell a terrified toddler tremulously seeking succor, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.”
I thought that if I waited a bit to review this one and let it really sink in that I would be able to write a thoughtful review about it, but it’s not the kind of book that sinks in. It’s the kind of book that sucks you in, messes with your head and then spits you out. After I finished it I wanted to wash my mind out with soap and plug night-lights into every available outlet in my bedroom before going to sleep.
Dr. Pellinore Warthrop studies monsters in a lab in his basement. When his apprentice and the apprentice’s wife die, the doctor takes in their orphaned child, Will Henry. Will Henry believes his father’s loyalty and adoration of the doctor directly led to his death, but with no other relatives to take him in, he remains with the doctor. As Will Henry reluctantly fills his father’s shoes as the doctor’s apprentice, Dr. Warthrop wrestles with his own demons: a lonely childhood and a distant father. The heart of the story is the relationship between two broken people with no one else but one another to lean on. Will blames the doctor for his father’s death but longs for him to offer some parental comfort. The doctor clearly cares for Will but is unable to display the affection that he never received from his own father.
One quiet night at the lab, a grave robber shows up with cart full of dead monster wrapped around dead girl and Will and Pellinore embark on a quest to hunt down a pack of Anthropophagi. What on earth are Anthropophagi, you ask? Why, they are headless monsters whose torso serves as a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth, all the better to eat humans whole with, of course. Commence with the gore. Very, very detailed gore.
In trying to describe it, the first thing that comes to mind is “Charles Dickens and Stephen King go out for a beer and decide to co-write a young adult horror novel” but that is just a cheeky way of saying that this book was full of rich language, terror and viscera. The second thought is that if I had read this at 14 (14 and up is the suggested age group) I would have had nightmares for a year afterward.
I liked it. I was repulsed by it. I need to buy another night-light.