Excerpt from book:
“What Am I, Will Henry?”
I do not wish to remember these things.
I wish to be rid of them, to be rid of him. I set down the pen nearly a year ago, swearing I would never pick it up again. Let it die with me, I thought. I am an old man. I owe the future nothing.
Soon I will fall asleep and I will wake from this terrible dream. The endless night will fall, and I will rise.
I long for that night. I do not fear it.
I have had my fill of fear. I have stared too long into the abyss, and now the abyss stares back at me.
Between the sleeping and the waking, it is there.
Between the rising and the resting, it is there.
It is always there.
It gnaws my heart. It chews my soul.
I turn aside and see it. I stop my ears and hear it. I cover myself and feel it.
There are no human words for what I mean.
It is the language of the bare bough and the cold stone, pronounced in the fell wind’s sullen whisper and the metronomic drip-drip of the rain. It is the song the falling snow sings and the discordant clamor of sunlight ripped apart by the canopy and miserly filtered down.
It is what the unseeing eye sees. It is what the deaf ear hears.
It is the romantic ballad of death’s embrace; the solemn hymn of offal dripping from bloody teeth; the lamentation of the bloated corpse rotting in the sun; and the graceful ballet of maggots twisting in the ruins of God’s temple.
Here in this gray land, we have no name. We are the carcasses reflected in the yellow eye.
Our bones are bleached within our skin; our empty sockets regard the hungry crow.
Here in this shadow country, our tinny voices scratch like a fly’s wing against unmoving air.
Ours is the language of imbeciles, the gibberish of idiots. The root and the vine have more to say than us.
I want to show you something. There is no name for it; it has no human symbol. It is old and its memory is long. It knew the world before we named it.
It knows everything. It knows me and it knows you.
And I will show it to you.
I will show you.
Let us go then, you and I, like Alice down the rabbit hole, to a time when there still were dark places in the world, and there were men who dared to delve into them.
An old man, I am a boy again.
And dead, the monstrumologist lives.
He was a solitary man, a dweller in silences, a genius enslaved to his own despotic thought, meticulous in his work, careless in his appearance, given to bouts of debilitating melancholia and driven by demons as formidable as the physical monstrosities he pursued.
He was a hard man, obstinate, cold to the point of cruelty, with impenetrable motives and rigid expectations, a strict taskmaster and an exacting teacher when he didn’t ignore me altogether. Days would pass with but a word or two between us. I might have been another stick of dusty furniture in a forgotten room of his ancestral home. If I had fled, I do not doubt weeks would have passed before he would have noticed. Then, without warning, I would find myself the sole focus of his attention, a singularly unpleasant phenomenon that produced an effect not unlike the sensation of drowning or being crushed by a thousand-pound rock. Those dark, strangely backlit eyes would turn upon me, the brow would furrow, the lips tighten and grow white, the same expression of intense concentration I had seen a hundred times at the necropsy table as he flayed open some nameless thing to explore its innards. A look from him could lay me bare. I spent many a useless hour debating with myself which was worse, being ignored by him or being acknowledged.
But I remained. He was all I had, and I do not flatter myself when * "A page-turner of an historical horror that will simultaneously thrill readers and make them sick to their stomachs."