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magicalmartha in thosebooks

The Monstrumologist, and why I want to support Rick Yancey

Guys, supernatural YA lit NEEDS us.

A couple of months ago, I picked up (totally on a whim) a book from a Borders-closing-sale called The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey.  It is, no exaggeration, one of the best supernatural/horror YA thrillers I have ever read.  It's gritty and suspenseful, told in an imaginative way, and one of the most thrilling things I've read in the past year.  This is what BookList has to say about it:

With a roaring sense of adventure and enough viscera to gag the hardiest of gore hounds, Yancey’s series starter might just be the best horror novel of the year. Will Henry is the 12-year-old apprentice to Pellinore Warthrop, a brilliant and self-absorbed monstrumologist--a scientist who studies (and when necessary, kills) monsters in late-1800s New England. The newest threat is the Anthropophagi, a pack of headless, shark-toothed bipeds, one of whom’s corpse is delivered to Warthrop’s lab courtesy of a grave robber. As the action moves from the dissecting table to the cemetery to an asylum to underground catacombs, Yancey keeps the shocks frequent and shrouded in a splattery miasma of blood, bone, pus, and maggots. The industrial-era setting is populated with leering, Dickensian characters, most notably the loathsome monster hunter hired by Warthrop to enact the highly effective “Maori Protocol” method of slaughter. Yancey’s prose is stentorian and wordy, but it weaves a world that possesses a Lovecraftian logic and hints at its own deeply satisfying mythos. Most effective of all, however, is the weirdly tender relationship between the quiet, respectful boy and his strict, Darwinesque father figure. “Snap to!” is Warthrop’s continued demand of Will, but readers will need no such needling.


I purchased the second installment, The Curse of the Wendigo, shortly after on my Nook, and it was EVEN BETTER.  It raises the stakes by building on the "monster hunt" conceit of the first, while including a layered and subtle discussion on the difference between myth and history and what it means to be human.  The third volume, The Isle of Blood, comes out this fall.

But Simon & Schuster terminated Yancey's contract after that, so the planned fourth and final book won't be published by them.  THIS WILL NOT DO.

Here's a link to an interview with Yancey explaining the situation: Simon & Schuster would rather publish Lizzie McGuire's book than quality YA.

I just...I want to do SOMETHING to show this guy I love his books and I support him and them, but I don't really want to participate in a write-in campaign if all it's doing is pissing off the publisher.  I'll be following the situation to see if Yancey sets up any kind of fundraiser or whatever, or if another publisher picks up the franchise.  But until then, I'm asking you guys: read these books.  If you like Buffy, if you like Supernatural, if you dig Neil Gaiman or John Connolly or Stephen King...you'll like them.  I can pretty much promise that you will.

Comments

I just read his interview too, and I was saddened that Simon & Schuster was pissed at the write-in situation. I understand that business is business, and sales are important, but with a series of this quality to be put to halt just feels wrong. It wouldn't be so hard to wait for the fourth and last book, geez. If S & S wants the average Hollywood star's fan club to up the sales, probably the likes of the Us Weekly/Disney demographic will do the job. Smh. I hope Rick acquires a new publisher.
I'm also sad that there are no more books, but two points of clarification:

1. S&S didn't actually cancel Rick's series. They only signed up three books, and made a financial decision not to publish more books, probably because the books didn't sell well enough, and publishing is a business, not a charity.

2. I'm having some trouble understanding why everyone keeps bringing up that Hilary Duff announcement. The Hilary Duff deal was announced in March 2010--over a year ago--and has nothing to do with Rick's situation now.
1. You're right, and I did not mean to be misleading about my wording here. Yancey did have a three-book contract with S&S, that S&S chose not to renew for precisely the reasons you cited. I'm not trying to say that S&S should simply publish books that I like, if they are in fact losing money over them. I'm expressing sadness that a series I like, that in fact I consider to be much higher quality than much of the YA currently being published, isn't selling as well as I want them too (I just didn't express it very well).

Clearly, the only solution is for more people to buy his books. :D

2. I didn't know that about the Duff book. To be completely honest, the first I'd even heard of it was in the Yancey interview I linked to in the original post, which does make it sound like Yancey is partially blaming S&S for choosing to publish lowbrow lit over better stuff (which is pretty narcissistic, but I don't disagree with him. Then again, I'm clearly biased towards his work.) I don't keep as up on publishing news as I probably should, unless it directly affects my interest (like what's happening now).