Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler. I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?
Everyone who has described this book to me has made it sound like a fun action-adventure -- young kid sidekick to a man who hunts monsters! -- with an old book flavor to it. Well, this book is that, as well as very gross and a study of an unhealthy relationship and the things we put up with for love (in this case a paternal sort). I'll talk about this last at the end.
Yancey's writing style is extremely engaging and I really enjoyed the journal feel to the novel. I found the prologue and epilogue rather unnecessary -- they're written as if the author has been given the protagonist's -- Will Henry's -- journals to study. I think we could have dived into the book without that extra fiction and everything would have been fine. There is maybe just a single point of two that's useful in those (and not especially so).
I love that Henry and his mentor are not going after vampires, werewolves, or zombies -- not even the wendigo that has gained such popularity recently (oh, wait... I see now that the next book is the wendigo... Oh well...). Rather, Yancey chooses a creature found in mythology (I'd read about them as a kid when I was devouring every mythology and folktale book I could find) that I've not seen used anywhere else. There's a somewhat similar creature in the Ultima games... But they aren't quite the same.
As I said, the book is quite gross. There are graphic violent scenes as well as some pretty disturbing turns of events. We get blood, we get pus, we get parasites and vomit and maggots and, well, you get the picture. It's more than I prefer, but it wasn't so much that I was turned off from the story.
What did almost turn me off was Will Henry's relationship with his mentor/guardian/ward. I don't know if I'm just reading into it too much, but we all come to books from different sets of experiences so... Here's what mine led me to read into the novel (though, for the record, I came from a very loving family).
To me, Will is trapped in a relationship that should be paternal -- he's an orphan who's been taken in by his father's employer -- but rather is a terribly emotionally abusive relationship. This all happens because Dr. Warthrop has major issues -- I won't list them here because they are explored in the book. Now, they may be excuses for his actions, but they don't excuse his actions. I'm not sure I feel comfortable where the book ended -- I'm going to have to read the next book to see if the relationship has truly been salvaged. I truly cringed sometimes when I read about their interactions and was sometimes very disturbed. Poor Will is in a very vulnerable place, having lost his parents recently, and seems to crave the doctor's statement, "Your services are indispensable to me," more than anything in the world. The ridicule and bullying and hits to his esteem that he has to take to hear those occasional words... I just wanted to pull him out of there. No child should have to be in those conditions.
I do want to read the next book -- I just will approach it with a bit of trepidation. I'd be interested to see if that aspect of the book stood out to anyone else as I've yet to hear anyone mention it.