The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey (2010)

I want to show you something. There is no name for it; it has no human symbol. It is old and its memory is long. It knew the world before we named it.
It knows everything. It knows me and it knows you.
And I will show it to you.
I will show you (p 4-5).

wendigoWill Henry once again narrates a thrilling tale abound with monsters, those that hunt us and those we harbor. Hard on the heels of Will Henry’s encounter with the Anthropophagi, an attractive woman requests the doctor’s aid in recovering her missing husband, John. It is clear from this first interview there is a history between the Dr. Warthrop and this siren, Muriel, whose call the doctor cannot ignore, though he denies her at first.

The real story is that of Warthrop, Muriel, and John. It unfolds against a backdrop of horror, as John returns a changed man.

It has a dozen names in a dozen lands, and it is older than the hills, Will Henry. It feeds, and the more it feeds, the hungrier it becomes. It starves even as it gorges. It is the hunger that cannot be satisfied. In the Algonquin tongue its name literally means ‘the one who devours mankind’ (p 53-54).

The Curse of the Wendigo is every bit as impressive as its predecessor, a Printz honor award winner. The characterization is so impressive. Add to that the chilling but realistic style of storytelling acting metaphorically to raise questions about the darker side of humanity and it is a gripping saga whose final installment I eagerly anticipate reading.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is Will Henry refering to when he writes “God’s temple” on page 4? Why do you think he chose this turn of phrase?
  2. On page 148, what is Will Henry saying about his service with the doctor? What do you make of this?
  3. The Monstrumologist comments that “routine is a kind of death” (p 274). Do you agree? Does this apply to Will Henry?
  4. Why do you think Will Henry is so committed to the Monstrumologist? How do other characters define their relationship? How does he characterize his relationship?
  5. What is the curse of the Wendigo? Is it an actual monster, as Von Helrung asserts, or do you subscribe to Dr. Pellinore Warthop’s explanations? How do you explain John’s behavior? Why do you think Yancy leaves room for ambiguity?

Word Stock:

culvert (prologue xvii), metronomic, discordant, offal (p 4), despotic (p 5), colloquium (p 6), scintilla  (p 7), tripe, disquisition (p 8), ceresin (p 13), profundity (p 15), sobriquet (p 22), obsequious (p 28), fecund (p 35), philocome (p 39), recalcitrance (p 41), convivial (p 49), umbrage (p 73), deputation (p 82), trammeled (p 106), rapacious (p 122), animus (p 127), suppurating (p 147), tonsured (p 152), contagion (p 185), sycophant (p 187), obsequiousness, malodorous (p 192), dolorous (p 194, 342), lugubriously (p 211), punctilious, quaintrelle, truncheon (p 212), inchoate (p 247), patina, archeronian (p 248), terminus (p 276), alacrity (p 232), proboscis (p 315), malefic (p 316), allegiant (p 340), presaged (p 367), tenebrous (p 401)

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