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Monday, February 23, 2015

Blue Wooded Sanctuary

Blue Wooded Sanctuary
Yesterday's blog entry was about the smoothness of snow and offered a view of a quiet cove in the Lanark woods with snow, trees and wandering stream, a place which is much loved. This morning, I am tucking in two other views of that same magical corner - I visit the place every time I go out to the highlands, and it always energizes and soothes, caressing the spirit gently and enchanting the senses. I come away from such intervals feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

As cold as it is on the Two Hundred Acre Wood at this time of year, my special corner is out of the wind, an oasis of calm and quiet. The hemlocks, pines and spruces are richly fragrant and perfect in their dusting of snow - any other form of ornamentation would be excessive.

Yesterday, it was so quiet that I could hear the snow tumbling off the trees.


Friday, February 13, 2015

The Monstrumologist

The Monstrumologist
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. Simon it did get a Printz Honor.

Prologue. June 2007. The author Rick Yancey is speaking with someone who helped him with research for another book, and winds up with the handwritten journals of an old man, William James Henry, who insisted he was born in 1876. The old man just died, without heirs, and maybe Rick wants to look at it. Rick explains that what follows is the story told in the first three journals....

And thus the story begins. 1888. Will Henry is 12. But these are not a boy's journals: they are written forty years after the death of Dr. Warthrop.

Full stop as we look at this great framing device. Will's story, told as an adult, capturing the spirit and point of view of a twelve year old while having some distance and wisdom of an adult. Will insists his memory of boyhood is sound ("I can't recall what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember with nightmarish clarity that spring night in 1888"..."); at another time he acknowledges that the confession of someone, while true to memory, "spare[s] the reader... somewhat tiresome and frustrating divagations"." But wait! There is more! As Rick Yancey has transcribed Will's journals, Will's words were "edited only for spelling and correction of some archaic uses of grammar"." Layers upon layers, with questions of what is told when and how. Delicious!

While short, those quotes reveal that Will's journal is written in nineteenth century style. Divagations indeed! Like Octavian Nothing, the prose seems true to time yet the story remains accessible.

A monster story that is not supernatural! The Anthropaphagi are simply creatures, not yet discovered and documented sufficiently by scientists so designated "monsters." Dr. Warthrop is the type who, as he hunts these creatures, scoffs at the idea of witchcraft or demons. He is a scientist, thank you very much. Since this is the start of a series, I am besides myself trying to guess what monster next gets the monstrumologist treatment. I hadn't realized, until reading this book, how much of the horror I'd been reading was more supernatural. Very refreshing to read something with no spells or witchcraft or demons.

Dr. Warthrop, who has his own Daddy Dearest issues, has been thrust into responsibility for Will. As a man unaccustomed to children, he treats Will as an adult, for good and bad. Will is only twelve, yet his responsibilities are great. Dr. Warthrop does not hide the truth from Will; does not protect him; does not make up stories. It's as if Dean Winchester had to take care of a kid; a Dean Winchester without a Sam in his life. (Oh, you knew I was going to go Supernatural