Friday, October 21, 2011

12. The Isle of Blood

The Monstrumologist, Book 3
Written by Rick Yancey
$18.99, ages 14 and up, 560 pages

Torn between the dark world of monster biology and his loathing of it, Will Henry must decide how far he's willing to go to save his mentor, in this third and final book in the riveting series Monstrumologist.

Over the last three years Will has transformed from a naive orphan to the world-weary apprentice to a monstrumologist, and felt his conscience waver and even go numb in the presence of all manner of dissections on the necropsy table.

Now, with the arrival of gruesome package at Dr. Warthrop's house, 13-year-old Will begins to confront his morality once and for all. Inside the package is a nest fashioned from human remains that, if touched, turns man into a monster.

It arrives in the night in the hands of a bedraggled courier, who is mad with panic because he thinks he's been poisoned. Dr. Kearns, a friend of Dr. Wathrop's, has said he's injected him with a toxin and that he must deliver the box safely to Dr. Warthrop if he wants the antidote.

Bursting inside the house, the courier demands a cure, unaware that Kearn's threat was only a trick. But by then he's already made a fateful mistake. In a moment's curiosity along the way, the man has opened the box and touched the specimen inside.

In making contact with the highly toxic specimen, linked to a deadly Nidus ex magnificum, he's poisoned himself and set in motion a gruesome transformation. His body has begun to devour itself and transform into a reeking, soulless beast far stronger than man.

After a near-death struggle with Will, the beast is killed, but it is only the beginning of Warthrop's obsession to find the nidus, the holy grail of monstrumology, a terrifying beast that rips apart human flesh and rains the remains down from the sky.

As days advance, Warthrop gets distracted by his ego and his desire to hunt down the nidus, and allows himself to be fooled by the flattery of a monster hunter named Arkwright. Arkwright convinces Warthrop to take him instead of Will on the expedition, and the two slip away in the night.

Will is left behind in America with Warthrop's mentor Dr. Von Helrung, his devotion to Warthrop shaken, and for the first time since his parents perished in a fire three years ago, he returns to a life a normalcy, far removed from the blood and umbrage of monstrumology.

But it is not to last.

Several months after Warthrop leaves, Arkwright returns with news that Warthrop is dead, that he's been snatched from their camp by the beast. Will and Von Helrung, however, don't trust Arkwright and set off for England to uncover what really happened.

Intense and impossible to put down, this last book in the Printz Honor-winning series is Yancey's best --  a masterpiece of horror that will leave readers feeling as if they too have trudged through a mire of putrefying flesh and put their conscience to the test. A finale not for the feint of heart.

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