Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: The Curse of the Wendigo

The Curse of the Wendigo
The Monstrumologist, Book 2
by Rick Yancey

This sequel to last year's The Monstrumologist, finds Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, the Monstrumologist of the title, in the interesting position of arguing against the existence of a monster. When Warthrop receives word that his former mentor intends to propose adding the Wendigo, a mythical American monster that resembles a vampire in some ways, to the canon of Monstrumology at the next conference, Warthrop prepares a speech in opposition to the inclusion of such superstitious nonsense. When Warthrop's old friend John Chanler disappears on a quest for the Wendigo, Warthrop and his young assistant, narrator Will Henry, begin a dangerous journey through the Canadian wilderness in search of Chanler, even though Warthrop believes that search to be hopeless.

I've never been a fan of horror, but I love this series in spite of my squeamishness. I probably would never have picked up the first book, especially with it's original hideous cover, except for three things: it was nominated for the Cybils in 2009, I'm a fan of Rick Yancey (here, here, and here) and my teenage son, who also doesn't like horror, gave it his highest recommendation.

The series is wonderfully written, in a style reminiscent of classic horror, yet with a modern sensibility that will appeal to today's teens. There are some, er, pretty graphic scenes, so this isn't a series for younger children or sensitive readers.

For most of the book, The Curse of the Wendigo is slightly less of a bloodbath than the original Monstrumologist book, and moves a little more slowly, relying on suspense more than outright horror. However, there are still enough detailed descriptions of bodies with entrails hanging out and eyes removed to satisfy the most jaded horror reader.

But really, The Curse of the Wendigo is very much a character driven book. And what characters! I adore Will Henry. On the surface he is obsequious and timid, yet underneath he has a depth of resolve and courage, which is revealed to a much greater degree in this book. We also see Dr. Warthrop in new light here, as some of his past, and some unexpected aspects of his personality, are revealed. Through their hardships, his relationship with Will Henry develops, and while he is still the same arrogant and impatient doctor, by the end some change has crept in. There are some new characters introduced, including Lilly, a delightfully obnoxious 13-year-old girl who makes it her mission to torment Will, and who is certainly destined to be the first female Monstrumologist.

The Curse of the Wendigo was a 2010 Cybils nominee in the Fantasy/Science Fiction: Teen category.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy provided by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The links above are Amazon Associate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.


Ms. Yingling said...

I'm not a horror fan either, and this was even more horrific than the first! That element of human evil, rather than monsters, made it so very creepy!

Unknown said...

Oh, absolutely. Human evil is so much scarier than monsters. I liked the ambiguity, also, about whether is was Wendigo or human.

Also, I mean to add that while the book was a slow build, it did get much more frightening (and the body count started adding up) towards the end.

Charlotte said...

I'm in two minds about this one--I've heard nothing but praise for it, but I'm scared! Maybe I'll save it for when I'm Older and Stronger.

Unknown said...

I don't know what to tell you, Charlotte. It is good, and it is horrifying. Whether you should read it or not, I can't say!