Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Curse of the Wendigo -- Rick Yancey

It's been about a year since I commented on The Monstrumologist. Now Pellinore Warthrop and Will Henry, his indispensable assistant, are back and searching for a new kind of monster. Except that it's the kind of monster that Warthrop refuses to admit can exist. Vampires, werewolves, the Wendigo: just figments of the imagination, not real monsters.

There's a lot going on here. It's time for the annual monstrumolgist convention in New York City, where Van Helrung (sound remotely familiar) is about to ask the assembly to accept those supernatural creatures I mentioned as being worthy of their research. Warthrop has been asked to refute him. And then Warthrop's former fiancee, now married to the man who at one time was Warthrop's best friend, John Chanler, to find her husband, who's lost in the Canadian wilderness, where he'd gone to seek the Wendigo.

Warthrop refuses, then relents. He and Will Henry set off and have quite an adventure in the Frozen North. They return with Chanler, or with something resembling him. Van Helrung insists that Chanler is now a Wendigo. Warthrop says that's just superstitious nonsense. And then the killings begin. If the harrowing scenes in the Canadian wilderness weren't enough for you, the scenes in New York should fill the bill. This book has enough blood, guts, and gore to fill the pages of every E. C. horror comic ever publishes. Trust me. It's dark matter, indeed, darker than most of the dark crime novels you're ever likely to read. And it's a YA novel. As I mentioned in my previous review, YA novels have certainly changed since I was a YA. (In spite of all that, the scariest creature in the novel, to me, is a girl named Lilly.)

By the way, I won this book in a contest at Bookgasm, a mighty fine site.

Now for my picky complaints. I advise you to skip this part, because it's just the nonsensical raving of a crotchety old retired English teacher. So here's the thing. Sentences like this one drive me nuts: "I shared with him the latest gossip gleaned from the society pages (he held a strange fascination for them) . . . ." I mean, Warthrop's a weird guy, all right, but are we really expected to believe that the society pages were fascinated by him? And then there's this: "As the possessor of the sole shovel, the honors of the dead guide's internment fell to me." Okay, so there's a dangling modifier there, but I think I'm bothered just as much by the use of internment. Okay, that's enough quibbling. Other than a few things like that, I enjoyed the book.


Richard R. said...

I keep my wendigo reading with the Cork O'Connor books by William Kent Krueger, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's interning in an interment place?

As long as he doesn't "hiss" words with no 's' in them...