Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

Genre: YA horror/ historical
Pages: 448 (hardcover)
Published: 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Recommended for: fans of horror and Gothic novels

While attempting to disprove that homo vampiris, the vampire, could not possibly exist, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancee to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop also considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied? This second book in The Monstrumologist series explores the line between myth and reality, love and hate, genius and madness. 

My Take:

Somehow I always take it for granted that a YA novel could not possibly scare me.  The Monstrumologist proved that little theory wrong, and now its sequel has reminded me that I am, on occasion, a total cry-baby-sniffle-head.  

The Curse of the Wendigo is very nearly as nauseatingly gory and compulsively readable as the first book.  We learn more the eccentric-- okay, downright bizarre-- Dr. Warthrop, Will Henry's guardian and master whose science involves the study of deadly creatures whom are rarely recorded in most nature history books, apparently because simply very few people survive encounters with them.  Will and the doctor trek across the freezing and isolated Canadian tundra, searching for John Chanler, an old colleague of the doctor's who was as much his worst enemy as his best friend.  The natives swear Chanler has been taken by something very evil and very old-- the Wendigo, a terrible legendary creature who starves for living flesh and was once, legend has it, human.  Dr. Warthrop is a skeptic despite his profession and is convinced Chanler is merely lost.  To keep it spoiler-free, Will and the doctor end up at a society meeting for the Order of Monstrumologists in New York, where the gruesome deaths which took place in the Canadian tundra seem to be occurring as well.  

I liked that real-life figures appear so clearly in both books: we had Jack the Ripper in the first book, and now we have Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, and many of the 'real-life' inspirations for his novel: there's a gung-ho monstrumologist named von Helrung, and even a mention of a doctor Seward.  We meet a Mina Harker-like character, too, but telling you who would be a big spoiler. ;)  I liked also that we finally have a female character with a set of balls (so to speak), because even if it is the 19th century, I always like to read about strong chic characters who don't swoon at the mention of monstrous nasties (of which this book contains quite a lot).  

All in all, this second book in the Monstrumologist series had all the gory trappings and delectably addictive, yet wordy, prose of a classic gothic horror novel.  I'd reread it for the scene with the Mongolian Death Worm alone.

Cover: 5/5 (my OCD likes how it matches the first book)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5 


Maggie Desmond-O'Brien said...

I've always been a little fascinated by YA horror since there isn't much of it, and living in MN, the Wendigo is a local legend. =) Great review, and I'll have to check it out!

Annette said...

I may be ready for this one. Monstrumologist was truly one of the most gory, scary books I've read, and I've been hesitant to jump into this one. But now you've got me interested.... Thanks!

Aylee said...

Dang, I must start reading this series! I have them on my shelf waiting for me. I'm looking forward to a scary read, plus I've never read a negative review on the series.

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