Can anyone please tell me where the last seventeen months have gone? It’s hard to believe, but that’s how long it’s been since I presented our first-ever Book Spotlight on Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist Series. At the time, I believed it to be a trilogy, and complete. I was saddened, as I always am at finishing a series I’ve loved, and (although my research at the time turned up nothing) I remember wondering if a fourth book could possibly be in the offing. As it turned out, I was right. Rick Yancey had, in fact, planned a four-book series, but just before the publication of The Isle of Blood, Simon and Schuster decided not to publish the fourth volume.
Simon and Schuster may have heard enough from Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop, but Mr. Yancey’s legions of fans had not. Outraged, the fans mounted a campaign to resurrect the series, reaching out to the publisher through letters, blogs, and social media. Shocked by the outpouring from the readers, Simon and Schuster reversed their decision, and Book Four, The Final Descent was finally released in September of this year. And so today, Book Spotlight comes full-circle. Before I start really waxing philosophical, though, let’s talk about The Final Descent!
At fourteen, Will Henry has seen more than his share of gore and horror. His relationship with Dr. Warthrop has improved somewhat since their encounter with T. Magnificum, but it is still quite tenuous. Now, the pair are once again in New York, where Dr. Warthrop plans to present his latest and greatest find, the very last of the rare species T. Cerrejonesis, to the Monstrumological Society. But when the creature is stolen, the doctor holds Will to blame, fearing that his loyalties have shifted. Over the course of a single day, in the depths of the Monstrumarium, Will faces the worst monster of his career, and must make a decision that will alter the course of both his life and Dr. Warthrop’s forever.
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Gems for Writers:
Narrative Voice as Timeline. This might sound like two Gems in one, but in this book, the two are so closely interlinked that it is only possible to discuss them in one paragraph. In the very first chapter of this book, Yancey states, “Time is a line, but we are circles.” The narrative of this story embodies that statement as it switches between Will at fourteen, narrating the events in the Monstrumarium, and an adult Will reflecting on how those events changed his life. The use of this narrative style also creates an air of mystery, because all of the pieces of the story don’t fit together until the very end.
Characterization. There are no unimportant characters in this series, and Yancey fully develops each and every one. The relationship between Will and Dr. Warthrop, while wonderfully done throughout the series, truly shines in this book. The reader sees all the ways in which each of them has grown (or not grown) since the first book. Additionally, the sardonic teenage Will is juxtaposed against the reflective, adult Will, which makes a fascinating contrast.
Classic Inspiration. The Final Descent is by no means a retelling, but the structure and narrative of the story call to mind Dante’s Inferno. Like with Inferno, the book is divided into sections, called Cantos, marking the lines between narration by the teenage Will and the adult Will. Additionally, the levels of the Monstrumarium, New York City, and the places Will visits in his adult life are reminiscent of Dante’s portrayal of Heaven, Purgatory, and the many layers of Hell. Beyond all the shades of Inferno, too, lies a plethora of subtle nods to classic Gothicism and horror, particularly Bram Stoker’s Dracula, in this book and throughout the series. Yancey’s stories are classic horror for a new age, and The Final Descent is especially well done.
Like many other fans of The Monstrumologist Series, I waited a long time to see the saga of Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop come to its conclusion, and The Final Descent was entirely worth the wait. Thanks for joining me today, Beardies!
Keep Calm & Scribe On!
***The Final Descent (2013), by Rick Yancey, is published by and copyright Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. It is available in stores, online (see above), and from your local public library.