Summary: "An old man, I am a boy again. And dead, the monstrumologist lives." The adventures of Will Henry and the monstrumologist continue in a harrowing new tale that takes them from the Canadian wilderness, to the monstrumology convention, and even into the immigrant slums of the city, with plenty of horrifying side stops along the way. When Dr. Warthrop's first love comes to him for help locating her missing husband, the doctor springs into action, especially since said husband was once his best friend. Will Henry gets dragged along into a journey that will take him through madness and out the other side, reveal secrets about his master's younger self, test the awkward bond between him and the monstrumologist, and ultimately show him the darkness in his own heart. And at the heart of all of it loom the questions: What is the true nature of the Wendigo? And who will it devour next?
Yay!: While it is a completely different animal from The Monstrumologist in many ways, this sequel blows high expectations out of the water. The cheap gore of the original is scaled back, the constant action traded for emotional depth and plot sophistication. Where the first one hit you in the gut, the second will also add a strike at your heart. That's not to say the gore isn't present. It doesn't come as fast or often as it did with the anthropophagi, but this book has plenty of sickening moments. However, the bloody bits are used to greater effect here, moving the plot and heightening the emotion rather than acting gratuitously.
The writing keeps that ornate Gothic style of the first, occasionally achieving moments of surprising beauty even when describing horrors.
Relationships and characters are deeply explored. The monstrumologist becomes more human with every passing chapter while somehow remaining a cold, larger-than-life bastard. Yancey shows Warthrop's true inner scientist by placing him on the other side of the equation this time: No matter what happens, he refuses to believe in the Wendigo, because to do so would be to give up all hope of saving his best friend. Meanwhile, Will Henry is growing up. His actions at the end will raise the question of how he will grow up. Will he turn out to be just like his detached master? But how detached is his master, anyway? What's this about the love of his life...?
Nay!: If you don't like gore, just don't open this book. Walk away calmly. Fans of the nonstop entrails in the first book may find the action slow to start here. Also, a young lady is introduced into the cast of characters, presumably to be a love interest for Will Henry at some point. She very much wants to be a monstrumologist and has the bloodthirsty nature Will Henry lacks. I predict she will be a character readers either find refreshing and feminist or spoiled and really annoying.
Bonus: The Monstrumarium!