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Guest Post: A Book That Scares Chelsea Campbell

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Chelsea Campbell, author of THE RISE OF RENEGADE X

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed.

Thus begins the first folio of Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist, one of the most amazing horror stories I’ve ever read, topped only by its sequels, The Curse of the Wendigo and The Isle of Blood. The setting is New England, in 1888, in the town of New Jerusalem, the home of Doctor Pellinore Warthrop, a monstrumologist, and his 12-year-old assistant Will Henry. The stories are told from Will Henry’s point of view, presented as journals written later in his life as he looks back on his adventures.

What makes these books amazing works of horror isn’t just the monsters Dr. Warthrop studies, which are gruesome and Lovecraftian and utterly terrifying in their own right, but the grains of truth presented along with them. The monsters’ goals are primal—to eat, spread, and survive. They mimic the behavior of germs and parasites. Some real-life parasites are mentioned and described in the book, and they come across as some of the most horrifying monsters of all.

Adding depth to the story is the focus on Will Henry’s relationship with Dr. Warthrop. The two of them are forced together by circumstance, with a recently orphaned Will never having intended to become a monstrumologist’s assistant and the cranky Dr. Warthrop never having intended to take care of a young boy. These characters come across as alive and real, so much so that I find myself thinking of them on a daily basis, even long after I’ve closed the pages of the book. The credibility they bring to the story makes the horror elements live and breathe, and the depth of character often allows us to study humanity at its most monstrous. But they also bring us hope and bright comedic moments that lighten the darkness and make these stories irresistible.

Each book in this series adds so much to the depth of the characters, and each book has monsters more terrifying and more exciting than the last. Just when I think there’s no way Rick Yancey can top his previous books, he blows all my expectations out of the water. Though not for the faint of heart, this is a series not to be missed, especially as the fall air turns crisp and cold and the leaves start to drop and the wind howls against our doors. It’s the perfect time to sit safely nestled on our couches, sipping hot cocoa and adding another log to the fireplace, while our thoughts turn to an orphaned boy and the doctor he serves, heading out to hunt for monsters.

Chelsea Campbell grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains a lot. And then rains some more. She finished her first novel when she was twelve, sent it out, and promptly got rejected. Since then she’s written many more novels, earned a degree in Latin and Ancient Greek, become an obsessive knitter and fiber artist, and started a collection of glass grapes. As a kid, Chelsea read lots of adult books, but now that she’s an adult herself (at least according to her driver’s license), she loves books for kids and teens. Besides writing, studying ancient languages, and collecting useless objects, Chelsea is a pop-culture fangirl at heart and can often be found rewatching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leveling up in World of Warcraft, or spending way too much time on Twitter and Facebook.

Visit Chelsea at

Follow @CampChelsea on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

Here’s a sneak peek of some books I’m giving away:

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

17 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Book That Scares Chelsea Campbell

  1. I was so glad- and proud- of the fan movement that got this series picked back up after its cancellation. That more than anything convinved me to read them.


  2. Rick Yancey’s books are incredibly creepy. A lot of the descriptions actually made me feel ill. The details he goes into when dissecting the monster corpses gave me nightmares!

  3. YES. I LOVED this book so much! So detailed in all the best ways and when you really pictured what was happening, it was seriously freaky. This series is fantastic!

  4. Hmmm, I think my computer ate my comment! And yes, it does rain a lot here, huh? ..tis the rainy season, or drizzle most days…
    Nothing better than a good monster story. I agree with other posts, will have to put this series on my TBR list…

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