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Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: The Curse of the Wendigo (The Monstrumologist #2) by Rick Yancey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: September 19, 2010
Pages: 448
Source: Won from YA Book Shelf (Thanks!)
Rating: 4.5 Stars

While attempting to disprove that Homo vampiris, the vampire, could 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.

In short: The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey does not hold back the horror and gore in this superb and gag-inducing sequel in the terrifying series.
So begins a new adventure with Will Henry, assistant monstrumologist, and his master and certified monstrumologist, Dr. Warthrop. Last time, in The Monstrumologist, the monster of the story was a well studied and known humanoid beast. This time, in The Curse of the Wendigo, the monster is the Wendigo, a vampire-like beast that is just a silly myth, not worthy of actual study because it doesn't exist, so says the doctor. Vampires aren't real and to believe they exist would be making a mockery of the monstrumologist profession. Or so the doctor thinks.

Though the Wendigo isn't exactly like a vampire as we know it, it is a similar monster. Though I have been impressed in the past by authors of the myriad vampire novels out there and their ability to create distinct vampire lore to distinguish themselves, now after having read The Curse of the Wendigo, they pale in originality. Rick Yancey has written the most creative vampire-esque novel I've ever read with The Curse of the Wendigo

Also, if possible, Yancey has created a monster even more terrifying than the one he wrote in The Monstrumologist! Imagine a beast that pulls out his prey's eyeballs and feasts on its heart. One with a perverse sense of humour that rips off one prey's face and places it over top of another, and scoops out the bowels of another to write messages on the wall. I really love that Rick Yancey just goes for it, you know? He really doesn't hold back and present a watered down monster for fear of turning away readers. He brings on the gore, blood, and feces in gag-inducing amounts. I can appreciate that. Even if lots of the scenes made me want to throw up my lunch.

I'm not sure I would like this particular brand of horror if it were set in a modern setting. But the gothic Victorian backdrop makes a perfect and creepy setting for a plot that is so horrific. And the setting is so perfectly described too. The Monstrumologist takes place entirely in New England but in The Curse of the Wendigo, we get to see two more 19th century locations: the untamed and desolate wilderness of Canada, and New York City as it was at the end of the 1800s. I'm not a huge historical fiction fan, but did I ever find these settings fascinating to read! Isn't learning about history fun when you're learning it by way of a well written fiction novel?

The same things I loved about The Monstrumologist, the well developed characters and the exquisite writing, are also present in The Curse of the Wendigo. However, I didn't like The Curse of the Wendigo quite as much as its predecessor because of some pacing problems. Other than that, it is a strong and compelling addition to a terrifying and brilliant series. Not sure if this series is for you? I'd recommend trying out the first book The Monstrumologist. Don't worry, it can be read as a standalone as each book chronicles a different set of adventures for Will Henry.

The third and final book in the series, The Isle of Blood, is set to be released September 13, 2011.

Other Reviews:
A Myriad of Books
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*Read as part of the YA Series Challenge


  1. Gag-inducing, huh? Hmm, that might be a bit much for me. :P (I like horror, but I don't like to be nauseous, lol)
    You make a really good point about the setting--there's no way something like this would've worked near as well in the modern day.
    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

  2. Yeah, I know... it was almost too much for me to take. Not so much the gore, strangely, but the amount of feces mentioned... the Wendigo had a strange fondness for fecal matter and would try to involve it in everyone of his gruesome murders. Ew.

  3. I love your reviews. Especially for something I'm sure I am not going to read. Whenever I think of a Wendigo, I think of The Supernatural episode from season one. Those creatures freak me out.

  4. I love how foul the monster sounds! Honestly, your reviews have me captivated. I really want to start this series! :)

  5. Rick Yancey really DOES just go for it, especially when it comes to writing gore! I loved the gothic Victorian setting and the Canadian wilderness thing going on, too. I'm just about to read The Isle of Blood... I will be sad when this series ends, but these books will definitely make for good re-reads!

    Great review. Glad you enjoyed this one. :)

  6. Great review! I am definitely gonna have to give this series a read. :0)

  7. Yeah, gag-inducing sequel really sticks out to me, too. Do I really want to know what that is all about?

    But then again, you know the vampire lover in me has to find out what is so different about these vampires. Like NOW.

    I'll be sure to eat light when I read this book. I'm kind of tempted to read it first just because I'm so curious about those vamps. Thanks for letting me know it works as a standalone. That's rare.

  8. Sara: Aw, thank you. Heh, I often like reading reviews for books I'm not ever going to read too.

    Melissa: I loved the foulness too, even when I was thinking I might throw up. You gotta admire an author who doesn't just wimp out on the gore. I hope you can enjoy it!

    Kat: He goes for it more than any other author I've ever read (though it should be noted that I've never actually read anything of Steven King's). I'm excited for The Isle of Blood. I keep thinking Yancey will just not be able to outdo himself because the first two were just that good. We'll see!

    Tracy: You may find it's not for you but I'm happy that you want to give it a go!

    Missie: Heh, the gag-inducing comment was specifically referring to the prevalence of fecal matter present in the book. Not so much the gore, oddly.
    I should clarify: the first book works as a standalone if you just want to read that one and no more. If you were to start with the second, I think it would be doable, but still a bit harder to get into I would think.

  9. This looks like a good one :) I'll have to check it out!

  10. Wow, he really doesn't hold anything back with that monster does he? Rips people's faces off and then disembowels them. *shiver* Definitely horrifying! And based on the title of the third book, things are going to stay pretty graphic:)

  11. Uh, I thought a Wendingo was something else entirely.

    I guess I do watch too much supernatural.

    Anyway, the book sounds different and original. I like it, though I don't tend to like scary stuff.

  12. Farrah: I hope you find that you like it and aren't too horrified!

    Jenny: The really sickening thing about the monster was its sick sense of humour. At one point, he even put one of his prey's faces on top of his own like a mask... freaky. And yeah, definitely graphic!

    Alex: It is a "real" monster from life, popular in many native circles. Not exactly like the vampire in popular fiction that we know of, but there are many different interpretations of vampires and the Wendigo is one of them. I definitely don't recommend this book to everyone!

  13. Lol, you describing the way the Wendigo eats made me want to throw up. This sounds like a great series for horror fans.

  14. i read this one too a while back (well, i just finished the whole trilogy, actually) and i thought this one was even better than the first. soooo good, in fact. much better characterizations and even more gore--whoot!

    the third one was a good, but...not as good as the second, i guess. i hope you like it too! :)

  15. Any book that can create unique vampires is good with me. I'm really looking forward to checking out this series now!

  16. Zahida: Yup! And if you're not at all a fan of the horror genre then I this may not be for you. Though it should be noted that I've never really considered myself a horror fan before and I love this series.

    Aleeza: I don't mind that you say the third is not quite as good as the second, because in my mind that still means it's an excellent read! I can't wait to read it!

    Logan: Oh yay, I hope you enjoy it! Even though I don't think this is a series for everyone, I do think it's one of the most underrated series out there and I really wish it was more popular because it deserves to be!

  17. Wow, that sounds creepy and gross. Yet intriguing. I like that the perverse sense of humor...yanking of someone's face and placing it on another person. What age range do you think this is geared towards?

  18. It's YA though none of the characters are teenaged. Will Henry, the MC, is 12 and the doctor is middle-aged. I guess even though the MC is MG, the material is a little too graphic for MG.

  19. I so need to start this series. It sound fantastically fun! I'm totally grossed out by gore, but I also love reading it.

  20. I was surprised how much I was entertained by reading about all that gore as well.