The Isle of Blood by Rick Yancey (2011)

Admittance to the Locked Room was restricted to only two classes of organisms–those that posed the highest risk to human life and those fools who would pursue them (p 122).

isle-of-bloodDr. Pellinore Warthrop is in the business of hunting the organisms that pose the highest risk to humanity. He is the Monstrumologist and thirteen-year-old Will Henry is his assistant. Then the opportunity to hunt the top prize, the Faceless One, arrives in the form of a prank. John Kearns sends Warthrop the nidus ex magnificum – the nest of the Magnificum – by way of one Mr Kendall. One touch of the nidus leads to infection. Infection to Oculus Dei (the eyes of God) and henceforth to death. Mr Kendall, the curious delivery man, becomes one of many victims in the race to find the Magnificum.

“It will be a seminal moment in the history of science , Will Henry, the finding of the magnificum, and not without some ancillary benefit to me personally. If I succeed, it will bring nothing short of immortality–well, the only concept of immortality that I am prepared to accept. But if I do succeed, the space between us the ineffable will shrink a little more. It is what we strive for as scientists, and what we dread as human beings. There is something in us that longs for the indescribable, the unattainable, the thing that cannot be seen” (p 147).

Yancey, once again, delivers a riveting story full of horror, suspense, and excellent character development, as well as an exploration of the human psyche. The most surprising and satisfying developments belonged to Will Henry. His transformation from assistant to apprentice, from witness to catalyst is extraordinary. Let me tantalize you with the following passage from Will Henry’s folio:

I suppose we cannot help it. We are all hunters. We are, for lack of a better word, monstrumologists. Our prey varies depending on our age, sex, interests, energy. Some hunt the simplest or silliest of things–the latest electronic device or the next promotion or the best-looking boy or girl in school. Others hunt fame, power, wealth. Some nobler souls chase the divine or knowledge or the betterment of humankind. In the winter of 1889, I stalked a human being. You might think I mean Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, I do not. That person was me (p 172).

Meanwhile, Yancey paints Warthrop as vividly as ever. The reader will be sucked into his sphere along with Will Henry and at the conclusion, all three come face-to-face with the Magnificum.

Is it any wonder the power this man held over me–this man who did not run from his demons like most of us do, but embraced them as his own, clutching them to his heart in a choke hold grip. He did not try to escape them by denying them or drugging them or bargaining with them. He met them where they lived, in secret places most of us keep hidden. Warthrop was Warthrop down to the marrow of his bones, for his demons defined him; they breathed the breath of life into him; and without them, he would go down,as most of us do, into that purgatorial fog of a life unrealized (p 420).

If there is one book you read this year, it should be The Isle of Blood. Assuming, of course, you have read The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo. And if you have already read these first two books in the series, I’m sure you have already picked up The Isle of Blood and need no urging from me. Then we will all face the horror of waiting for the fourth installment.

Library copy | September 13, 2011 | Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers | 560 pages | ISBN: 978-1416984528 | Ages 14 and up | $18.99

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