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Literature / Monstrumologist

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The Monstrumologist is a tetralogy by Rick Yancey. It chronicles the adventures of a scientist who researches and studies monsters in the 1800s, and his young assistant.

The books include:

  • The Monstrumologist (2009)
  • The Curse of The Wendigo (2010)
  • The Isle of Blood (2011)
  • The Final Descent (2013)

This Series Contains Examples Of:

  • Abusive Parents: Pellinore to Will Henry (although he's his guardian, not his parent). When he's not insulting him, he's ignoring him. He's always exposing Will to horrible things that make even the toughest men go mad. There are moments when Pellinore admits to Will how much he needs him, but those moments aren't heartwarming when you considerdon't all the mental damage he's caused, leading to Will becoming cold and merciless by the fourth book.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Pellinore. Anthropophagi? Fine. Weird worms that grant nigh-upon immortality? Boring. But the wendigo? Never in a million years! It gets worse when Pellinore describes the magnificarum and it comes off sounding like a campfire story. No one knows what it looks like or how it behaves, yet he unquestionably accepts its existence as fact. Mind, that this is a creature whose saliva will drastically and horrifically alter the body and mind of anyone it comes into contact with, while one book earlier, he declares that the idea of a creature that can produce symptoms similar to wendigo possession in its victims spits in the face of everything be believes in.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Jack the Ripper was a monster hunter named Dr. Kearns.
  • Broken Ace: Chanler, who was much more fun before discovering his wife loved his best friend, and turning into a monster.
  • Byronic Hero: Dr. Warthrop is a troubled, moody, self-centered loner utterly devoted to the study of Monstrumology.
  • Classical Chimera: The chimera is one of the multiple supposed extinct creatures reconstructed by Dr. Black, who gives it the three heads — goat, lion and snake — a regular snake tail and a triple vertebra for its three necks to anchor to. He speculates that its heads allowed it to feed on disparate food sources — the snake and lion heads could hunt when prey was abundant, the goat head graze when it wasn't — and that it was related to similarly snake-tailed and polycephalic hellhounds.
  • Cleans Up Nicely: Pellinore is actually quite handsome when he isn't covered in viscera.
  • Death Seeker: While all monstrumologists get into a fair amount of trouble, considering Pellinore's history of suicidal tendancies, this may account for some of the messes he gets into.
  • Downer Ending: The Curse of the Wendigo. Chanler dies, the rest of the Mostrumologist Society votes in favor of expanding their scope into more supernatural monsters (which is hinted will start a chain of events that will lead to the entire field of monstrumology being discredited), and Pellinore sends Will away.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The NY police beat up a hallucinating and wounded child to try to make him lie and rat out his only family figure as a murderer.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Envy is ultimately Chanler's motivating force. Learning his wife never stopped pining after his best friend (and in fact, may have married him in the first place to spite said best friend), he's driven to despair, and heads out into the wilderness in search of the Wendigo...
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Chanler becomes this after his encounter with the Windigo. He has a particular fixation on the heart.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: The second book is full of fleeting references to real and famous people who somehow become involved in the Society.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Will Henry is an assistant to a monster hunter, meaning he is in danger all the time, lives with a man who rarely allows him proper human interaction, will outlive any loved ones he might manage to obtain due to a parasite that lives within him, and is often a target for monsters. After being told by a shaman that his Life Energy Readings Are Off the Scale and being called by a Wendigo, it seems likely that Will Henry is destined for something.
  • Lovecraft Country: The main setting is the fictional small town of New Jerusalem, located somewhere in 1880s New England.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Despite the fact that monsters are real, Pellinore refuses to believe that supernatural monsters exist. So, Anthropophagi are real but vampires are not. What.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Will Henry's reaction to seeing the baby he abandoned while searching for Chanler.
  • Papa Wolf: Pellinore to Will Henry, and von Helrung, less obviously, to both Pellinore and Will Henry.
  • Peerless Love Interest: By Book 4, Will Henry has built up an idealized image of Lilly Bates as this. A bit ironic, when you remember that this is still the same girl who, 2 books earlier, baited him into picking up the Mongolian Death Worm.
  • Precision F-Strike: Is especially noticeable because the series seems to avoid cursing.
  • Pretty Boy: Dr. Kearns is described as having long blonde hair, a cherubic face, and "sensuous lips" by Will Henry.
    Will Henry (after being given a handkerchief soaked with ambergris): "Despite the gift of regurgitated whale shit, I could smell Kendall's decay."
  • Reflexive Response: Will Henry will (almost) always answer Pellinore's requests with "Yes, sir". Both characters Lampshade it but Will Henry continues with it anyway.
  • Shout-Out: Several references to the works of William Shakespeare, Kearns also being named Richard Cory (the name of an Edwin Arlington Robinson poem about a rich man with a good life who shoots himself), and one remark regarding "that ill-fated expedition to Sumatra" that could be a reference to a Noodle Incident from Sherlock Holmes
  • Something Only They Would Say: Whenever Pellinore tells Will Henry that he is "indispensable" could count as this.
  • Spoiled Brat: Lilly, though in the last book she seems to have grown out of it.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Chanler goes through a few of them, as he initially refused to eat (since he could only eat people as a Wendigo), but later embraced it.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: How Pellinore tries to debunk van Helrung's argument about magical monsters since the only real witness could have been hallucinating.