Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review of Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey

Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey; Simon & Schuster, 2011.Isle of Blood is the third book in the Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey. We again meet up with Will Henry, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop’s thirteen-year-old apprentice, as he has yet another strange adventure. In this book, a highly-prized, empty nest, made of human body parts, is delivered to the doctor. The nest, or nidus ex magnificum, is “coated in an opaque gelatinous substance resembling mucus” and is fatally poisonous to the touch. The bearer of the nest, who has, unfortunately, examined it, succumbs to madness, rotting skin, and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. He attacks Will Henry and is killed by Dr. Warthrop but Will Henry’s finger has been infected and must be amputated to save his life.

Dr. Warthrop is duped by a false monstrumology student into traveling to search for the Typhoeus Magnificum, which is believed to be “the Holy Grail of Monstrumology”. Will Henry, much to his dismay, is left with Lily Bates’s family, who wishes to adopt him. When Dr. Warthrop is discovered to be a prisoner in Great Britain’s Hanwell Lunatic Asylum, his friends and Will hatch an elaborate plan to free him. Eventually, Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop journey to the Island of Socotra, or Isle of Blood, in search of the magnificum. Will outwits Russian spies, discovers the nesting place for the magnificum, and sees more blood, gore, and death than he ever thought imaginable.

In Isle of Blood, Rick Yancey stays true to his writing style and plot development, which he began in The Monstrumologist. He elaborates more on Will Henry’s background, going so far as to “meet” one of his relatives to find out more about him. Readers are treated to an email from the relative and a visit to Lillian Bates Henry’s grave.

This third book is really more about Will than Pellinore Warthrop. All through the novel, Will agonizes over his choice to serve Dr. Warthrop and how he feels emotionally and mentally bound to him. Even when Will is given a chance to live a normal boy’s life as part of the Bates Family, he feels compelled to turn it all down and blindly follow the doctor. Lilly Bates pulls her usual teasing and flirting acts with Will, while he cannot decide if he likes or dislikes her, or both! Pellinore Warthrop is his still cynical and pompous self, but shows that he actually has a more human side. He shows, in his own way, that he truly cares about Will Henry and appreciates his loyalty.

The monster in the novel is possibly even more terrifying than the monsters in the previous books. Imagine a monster that was, at one point human, and morphs to become a type of cannibal who thirsts for flesh and blood so much that it will even eat itself! As Warthrop says of Wymond Kendall, who delivered the nidus, “He is…becoming.” An infection from the nidus is so deadly and contagious that it could actually eradicate the entire human race!

While this novel is extremely dark, there is humor in it, as well. The scene in which a group of people rescue Warthrop from the insane asylum is hilarious and includes a cameo appearance by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Some of the sarcastic comments made by Warthrop and their misinterpretation by Will Henry add a rather light-hearted tone to some extremely dark moments.

Fans of the first two books in the series will not be disappointed! I highly recommend this book for high school and public libraries!

Reviewer’s Note: The copy reviewed was an Advanced Readers Copy received from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab.

Labels:  Supernatural, horror, monsters, apprentices, orphans