1 Day Until Halloween: Review of The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

Published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Released September 19, 2010
424 pages
Where I got it: Public library
Rating: 5 stars

Will Henry has always thought the Monstrumologist he serves, Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, to be devoid of human emotions, at least as far as he could tell. It comes as a surprise, then, when Dr. Warthrop’s former fiancee comes asking for him to rescue her husband, Warthrop’s former best friend, from the wilds of Canada. John Chandler, the husband, has ventured there in search of the legendary wendigo, a creature with an insatiable appetite, for each time he feeds, he grows hungrier. Warthrop is compelled to make the treacherous journey, although he doesn’t neither believes Chandler to still be alive, or in the wendigo, to discover the truth of the disappearance. Will Henry and Warthrop’s journey takes them to the very heart of what it means to be human, and the point where humans become monsters.

I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to read The Curse of the Wendigo. Somehow, I didn’t get sufficiently hooked by The Monstrumologist, and didn’t feel motivated by the promise of the wendigo. I was wrong. This book was incredible, and should serve as an exemplar for the modern horror novel, young adult audience or not. Yancey has crafted a tale that is at once literary in its language, and compelling in its storytelling and character building. Every character is fleshed out, every scene painted with exactitude, so that the reader is fully immersed in the late nineteenth century setting of the story.

Yancey writes with real skill, and his voice brings to mind the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker. Younger readers may want to read with a dictionary by their side, because he does not shy away from using advanced vocabulary, which helps to capture the tone of the setting. There are also constant references to events and people of the day, which will further invoke the period for readers.

I absolutely fell in love with Warthrop’s character in this book. Coming out of The Monstromologist, it’s hard to like the guy because he seems utterly callous to the needs of young Will Henry. He’s still the same in this book, but further layers of his character are revealed, such what he gave up to pursue science, and his loyalty to friends after long years of distance. His relationship with Will Henry grows deeper as well.

The Curse of the Wendigo is the horror genre at its best, and will both appeal to those new to the genre and older fans. I give this book my highest praise, and hope that later books in the series are held to the same level of quality.

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