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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Isle Of Blood (The Monstrumologist #3) by Rick Yancey

When Dr. Warthrop goes hunting the "Holy Grail of Monstrumology" with his eager new assistant, Arkwright, he leaves Will Henry in New York. Finally, Will can enjoy something that always seemed out of reach: a normal life with a real family. But part of Will can't let go of Dr. Warthrop, and when Arkwright returns claiming that the doctor is dead, Will is devastated--and not convinced.

Determined to discover the truth, Will travels to London, knowing that if he succeeds, he will be plunging into depths of horror worse than anything he has experienced so far. His journey will take him to Socotra, the Isle of Blood, where human beings are used to make nests and blood rains from the sky--and will put Will Henry's loyalty to the ultimate test.

Released: September 13th 2011    Pages: 538
Publisher: Simon & Schuster        Source: Library

Sitting here, staring at this blank review, one thought rose to my mind: something about this series makes me so, so happy.  My second thought was that, well, that first thought was odd.  This isn't what I'd consider a "happy" series--it's too dark, creepy, and strange for that.  And yet, the more I think about it, the more my initial thought makes sense.  

The Isle Of Blood is, actually, full of things that make me happy.  Gorgeous period-authentic prose, an intelligent and suspenseful plot, a spunky yet complex younger-teen protagonist, a even more complex mentor-apprentice relationship, no love triangles or insta-love, creepily believable monsters, just to name a few.   A book can, of course, have one or more of these elements and still annoy me.  In this case, though, it proves to be an awesome combination.

I've read four of his books now and through them all, one thing has become apparent: Rick Yancey knows how to write.  The more I sit here, trying to think of a way to describe his gorgeous prose, the more I'm just sitting here like this:

I've talked about the writing in this series before.  It's eloquent, and it's awesome, but sometimes it's creepy.  This book has its fair share of gory, disturbing scenes, but the prose is no less poetic during these scenes, which makes it all the more unsettling.  It's an odd experience, being creeped out and in love with a phrase at the same time.  The sheer poetry of whatever scary thing is happening somehow manages to magnify it, rather than ease the blow.  And...I suppose I'm into that.  I'm not sure what to make of this fact.  Maybe it's because my view is that a truly good book should push at (or completely bust apart) the limits of your comfort zone, in some way or other.

Will Henry's character development just keeps getting more and more interesting.  This book, more than any of the others, added a darker chapter to his personal story.  His relationship with Dr. Warthrop grows more complex with each book.  I love the bond between them; it's a bit odd, but they have a deep connection.  Warthrop himself never fails to be an interesting character on his own.

Perhaps one of the things that I love most about this series is its sense of adventure.  It's not bogged down by love triangles, insta-love, or that nameless sort of general angst that plagues too many YA novels.  This might be partially due to Will Henry's age.  While this series is written more for the older range of YA readers, the main character is only 13.  It works, though, and gives the book a more whimsical feel, at times.

Overall, The Isle Of Blood is another fascinating, awesome addition to this series.  It's unsettling and vaguely disturbing, at times, but it's utterly beautiful at the same time.

I leave you with this lovely quote from this book:
"He was spent. All fear, all anger, all guilt, all shame, all pride--gone. He felt nothing; he was empty. Perhaps God waits for us to be empty, so he may fill us with himself."

Similar Books: It has a huge amount in common with Frankenstein--similar characters, setting, ideas, and writing style. It's also reminiscent of This Dark Endeavor and has supernatural creatures in an old-fashioned setting like the Matt Cruse books.
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