“He knew the truth. Yes, my dear child, he would undoubtedly tell a terrified toddler tremulously seeking succor, monsters are real. I happen to have one hanging in my basement.”Sometime during the mid-to-late 1800s in the north-eastern US, we meet Will Henry, a 12-year-old who recently lost his parents in a fire. His father's former boss, Dr. Warthrop, took Will Henry in and made Will his assistant. But Dr. Warthrop isn't your typical doctor; he's a Monstrumologist. Monsters are real and Dr. Warthrop hunts and studies them.
The story opens on a grave robber knocking on the doctor's door. It turns out he found more than he bargained for in the grave of a recently deceased young woman. He found not one body, but two, and brings them both to the doctor. The unexpected body is headless, with a huge mouth in its torso, eyes near its shoulders, arms so long they practically skim the ground and end with barbed claws. It's an Anthropophagi, a monster that feeds on humans (preferably the living variety).
Thus begins the story of Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop as they try to find the rest of the monster's 'herd' (for lack of a better word), discover how they made it to America (they're not native to North America), and try to stop the Antropophagi before they kill again. It also begins one of the grossest stories I've ever read. This story is a cross between a monster-hunt and a forensic/medical drama - at least in the descriptions of bodies and patients and wounds and puss and other grody things.
While the story wasn't fast-paced, it was solid and still had plenty to interest the reader (if they have the stomach for it). While Will Henry is a 12-year-old during this book, that doesn't limit the story to the middle grade/tween ages - I'd totally recommend it to the older teen/YA age, as well.
I'd recommend this book to middle school and high school students (and adults) who enjoy forensic TV shows, monster and zombie books and movies, and have a strong stomach. That being said, it may be a bit too gruesome for the younger end of that age-group, so act accordingly. Seriously - don't read this book when eating; you'll regret it.