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Gruesomely good gothic horror too violent for younger teens.

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

This is gothic horror -- whether the monstrumologist studies and hunts monsters for altruistic purposes is debatable. The story remains true to the sexism of the times, and borders on misogyny.

Positive role models

Will Henry 's father worked for Dr. Warthrop before he died and took Will's mother with him. Will is now apprenticed to the Doctor, who shows moments of caring for the boy despite taking him into danger and forcing him into a gruesome life -- which he thought was better than life as an orphan.


Over-the-top horror: monsters who not only feed on humans but implant their own young in fertile young women; mad men who hunt the monsters; prostitiutes used as bait for the monsters; men driven insane by monsters who kill themselves and family;  virgins sacrificed; graverobbers; extremely gory accounts of hunting, killing, and dissecting monsters. Monsters are hunted and killed using grenades, guns, dynamite, poison, etc.


A prostitute is chained out and left as bait for a monster; references to creatures and parasites that infect penises and testicles, virgin sacrifices, etc.



Mild use of "hell," "damn," and "bastard."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Printz Honor winner (a prize for young adult literature) has violence that is horrific, gruesomely graphic, and adult. The spectrum for young adult literature is ages 12 or 14 to 21, and this book leans heavily toward the older age range. This horror story is set in 1888, and despite the fictional aspects of the story, it remains true to the sexism of the times, and borders on misogyny. Although the Anthropophagy race of monster will consume any human, here prostitutes are used as bait, and there are stories told of foreign lands where priests fed the monsters young, virginal girls. There are virtually no other female characters in the book.

What's the story?

An old man reveals a childhood spent in the late 19th century as an apprentice to a monstrumologist -- a doctor who studied monsters. When a graverobber brings them the body of a young woman wrapped in the corpse of a headless monster, the doctor aborts the monster fetus from her and kills it. The race begins to find and kill any surviving members of the monsters called Anthropophagy. Will has grown up aiding with abominable experiments and dissections, but these creatures could not have been created by even the evilest minds. A hunt reveals that some evil man did import them to the U.S., and now more evil men appear to help hunt them -- some of them both evil and mad. At one point even Will becomes monster bait.

Is it any good?


This is shocking, graphically gory pus-and-guts splattered all over an action-packed story with some human moments. The gore and violence are so over the top that it's hard for anyone even the least bit squeamish to look past it. However Yancey is a popular young adult author and this book will have most mature horror fans riveted.

Female horror fans especially may be put off the book's very misogynistic nature. A story with this much imagination could certainly have avoided this -- the 1888 setting is no excuse.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why some readers like horror. What are the differences between Stephen King-like horror stories and this one? Does a gothic setting allow for themes or plots that would not be as acceptable set in modern times? Why or why not?

  • There are characters in this book who seem as evil as the monsters they hunt. Was Dr. Kearns evil? Was Dr. Warthrop evil?

  • Why was Will Henry loyal to the doctor? Was he right to be so loyal?

  • What was the reason the Anthropophayg wer brought to the United States?

Book details

Author:Rick Yancey
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:September 1, 2009
Number of pages:434
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

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Kid, 11 years old May 28, 2013

A Classic (Although won the goriest book of the year award)

VIOLENCE: 10/10. Intense violence and strong gore. Monsters rip off human heads, scoop out their brains, and eat their insides. Broken and bloody limbs are displayed, and bloody walls are shown in a house. And the carnage doesn't stop there. A boat is under siege by monsters, where humans are gutted, torn apart, and skewered. A man describes how children are tossed to monsters in a pit, only to be gored and ripped open. A man's legs are ripped off, and a man is turned inside out. Monsters are stabbed, blown apart, and humans are attacked with bloody results. Autopsy is performed on a monster. A dead and scarred body of a girl is found at a cemetery. A mother's head is torn off, and her shoulders are dislocated. Guns are fired at monsters, sometimes striking them. Suspenseful/frightening moments throughout. Very gruesome, but a 9th grader should handle it. Not for kids. Very good story! 5 out of 5 stars!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byManieSansDelire June 28, 2011

The most scary novel in the Young Adult section

The thing that I liked best about this book was that it had violence- but well-explained violence. Though not a book for those with a small vocabulary (or no dictionary), for the experienced reader, this is a must-read horror story. The first in what is at least a trilogy, "The Monstrumologist" creates believable fear. I rated this book Pause for age 12. A friend of mine, of that age, loved this book, was able to understand it, and was not fazed by the violence- but I also wouldn't recommend this to some of my more squeamish adult friends. This book is not for those without a strong stomach! No expense is spared in describing the feasts of the headless Anthropophagi, but it seems to me that this is the only vice, violence. There is little sexual content; the only real sexual content is the prostitute that Kearns, Cory, or the Ripper, whichever guise he goes under at the moment, uses as bait for the Anthropophagi. In fact, her profession is only mentioned in passing, as Kearns' explanation for his actions- "She is only a woman of the streets." This book is one of the finest of its genre, referring both to its YA status and horror. With the rarest of devices, believable horror, this monster story makes one ask again if monsters are real. Yes, my dear child, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educator Written bykenlynnfaithsarah November 9, 2010

If nothing is scary enough, try this!

Booklist magazine said this might be the best horror novel of 2009, and I agree. The Monstrumologist is an amazing book, The horror begins in chapter one and does not stop until the end. It is marketed as a Young Adult novel, ages 14 and up, but I am reading it with a group of 7th and 8th grade students, Yancey does not hold back any detail, no matter how gory, so it is not for the easily grossed-out. The language and grammar are difficult, but my students have been eager to learn the unknown vocabulary, references to unfamilar people, and important concepts. It’s both challenging and creepy at the same time. On a scale of one to ten, I give it ten shrieks of fright. Read it....if you dare.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value


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