The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey
Book 2 in the Monstrumologist series
Because I am always looking for new series that I can recommend to teens, I don’t always get to read past the first book. But it’s summer, and I feel a little freer to pick my reading choices. The Monstrumologist had been a great read—the writing was good, the story engaging with lots of suspense. And book two, The Curse of the Wendigo was just as good.
In The Curse of the Wendigo, Will Henry is back as Dr. Warthrop’s assistant in studying, finding, and fighting monsters. It’s 1888 and the pair are in New York. They have the same funny conversations full of misunderstanding. What is different is the group of monstrumologists, all of whom seriously study monsters. They are not in agreement about Wendigos—monsters found in various cultures under various names. Dr. von Helrung (yes, you should be thinking of von Helsing), the country’s eminent monstrumologist, is a believer.
Wendigos are supernaturally tall man-creatures, and they are emaciated, always starving, always seeking people to devour. Their evil spirits are carried on the wind and can grasp an unwary person. In this novel, a wendigo is tormenting an Indian tribe in Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada). A good friend of Dr. Warthrop’s goes out to investigate. The plot thickens as the reader learns that this best friend (John Chandler) had married Dr. Warthrop’s former fiancée and not all is resolved in this love triangle. As John Chandler has disappeared into the wilderness, Dr. Warthrop brings Will Henry with him to find his old friend.
That Dr. Warthrop does not believe in vampire-like creatures—including wendigos—will cause him to misjudge the actual danger to himself and those he cares about. But even to the end, whether the wendigo behavior of the possessed happens to be the product of a psychological breakdown or a true metamorphosis into a monster is unclear. What we do know is that the result is horrifying, and people are murdered in the most gruesome manner. Will Henry, at age twelve, young as he is, must learn that quick decisions can have horrifying consequences
High school housekeeping: The Curse of the Wendigo is YA horror at its best—great writing, truly gruesome murders without the addition of pointless and gratuitous violence, and the constant question of what is the best course of action for the protagonists. Although it’s a second book in a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. During October, we often have assignments to read horror and teens empty the shelves. If you are looking for horror, I recommend you start with the first book in the series. If the copies are all checked out and you can afford your own, it will be worth your while. But if your options are limited, go ahead and read this book two first. It’s a great main ingredient for a presentation to the class—and a great way to get hooked on reading.