The Curse of the Wendigo: Yancey’s latest novel is a joy to read

Readers’ average rating:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsYA fantasy book reviews Rick Yancey The Monstronumologist 2. The Curse of the WendigoThe Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey’s The Curse of the Wendigo is an amusing and well-written sequel to his award winning young adult horror novel The Monstrumologist. Set at the close of the 19th century, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop’s latest adventure takes him deep into the Canadian wilderness as he and his assistant Will Henry attempt to disprove the existence of the wendigo in the face of a series of seemingly monstrous murders.

Though commonly considered a “monstrumologist,” Dr. Pellinore Warthrop considers himself a student of aberrant biology. As such, he stridently dismisses the wendigo, a creature that “starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh,” as fanciful superstition. The doctor explains that the wendigo is a myth that should be used to study how cultures understand and cope with famine. All this “scientific” consideration of mythical creatures stands to diminish the reputation of the still emerging field of “aberrant biology.”

Unfortunately, many other monstrumologists disagree, including Warthrop’s former mentor Abraham von Helrung. Now it seems that Warthrop’s friend and colleague John Chanler has died in pursuit of the wendigo. A visit from Chanler’s anxious wife — who is also Warthrop’s former lover — convinces Warthrop to leave New England for Rat Passage, a fort on the border of Ontario. Alongside a Northwest Mounted Policeman and twelve year-old Will Henry, Warthrop ventures into the wilderness in search of his old friend John Chanler and a rational explanation that will put an end to the myth of the wendigo.

Some readers may find the second third of the story a little flat. Yancey has unabashedly modeled his plot on Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Yancey takes the time in his afterward to speculate that Stoker may have been an acquaintance of Warthrop and Von Helrung), and as with the famous vampire novel, the most exciting part of The Curse of the Wendigo is the exploration of the monster’s home. However, we must return to the city before we can put our monster to rest.

Perhaps this return to the city is necessary. There, we can wipe away the blood and gore and ask ourselves whether we need to invent monsters to explain all of the horrible things that happen in our world. Does the wendigo exist or is all of this death merely a reflection of the darker side of human nature?

Regardless of Yancey’s answer, The Curse of the Wendigo is a surprisingly clever young adult novel. If we’re lucky, we’ll see a series of stories in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes about Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, the monstrumologist who attempts to disprove the existence of monsters. With this series, Yancey has become one of young adult literature’s finest craftsmen and it should come as no surprise that he received the Michael L. Printz Honor for the first installment in this series. Yancey is a fine writer, and he shares Lemony Snicket’s gift for allusions.

One part The Hound of the Baskervilles, one part Dracula, Yancey’s latest novel is a joy to read. Yancey’s characters are wonderfully weird, and it is a great deal of fun to follow Dr. Pellinore Warthrop and his assistant Will Henry as they attempt to deconstruct The Curse of the Wendigo.


SHARE:  Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail  FOLLOW:  Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrsstumblr
If you plan to buy this book, you can support FanLit by clicking on the book cover above and buying it (and anything else) at Amazon. It costs you nothing extra, but Amazon pays us a small referral fee. Click any book cover or this link. We use this income to keep the site running. It pays for website hosting, postage for giveaways, and bookmarks and t-shirts. Thank you!

RYAN SKARDAL, with us since September 2010, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

View all posts by

Review this book and/or Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add your own review

Rating