Wow. I read this and then the next book in the series back to back and that is all I have to say right now. Wow. Rick Yancey blew my mind. Let's focus on book #3 right now though.
Will Henry is now 13 (still small) and still serving the doctor. He starts to realize that a part of himself is becoming cold and hard due to the things he has seen and the things he has done. We once again get shifting perspectives of Will as the writer at 13 and Will as an old man looking back.
"The Isle of Blood" starts with Will Henry and the doctor receiving a man who was poisoned by John Kearns (from book #1) and realize that the man has a package that the doctor (Warthrop) will be most interested in. This man's appearance leads to Will Henry becoming infected and causes the doctor to become afraid that his lifestyle may end up killing his young charge. For all of the talk of Will Henry that the doctor doesn't love him and he doesn't love the doctor, you start to realize that the Will Henry looking back into his life may have his own reasons for saying that and needing to believe it.
Will Henry and the doctor being separated leaves Will Henry floundering under the care of Abram von Helrung and then Helrung's niece Emily Bates, mother to Lilian (who we are introduced to in book #2). Will is able to see a different life for himself away from the doctor, but resists it, because he finds himself bound to the doctor and knows the doctor needs him to keep the darkness at bay. But what of the darkness in Will Henry?
Will at times with his interaction with Emily and Lilian Bates you can see how things could potentially change for the better for him. In this book, Will keenly feels the loss of his father and his mother and all he wants to do is be with them. In the end, Will decides serving the doctor is what he is meant for and all he wants to do.
When Will realizes there is a traitor in their midst, he once again is made to witness things no 13 year old boy should witness. You see the hardening of Will and him deciding if he has to be a man more like Torrance and Kearns that is fine with him. He refuses to be left behind by the doctor again.
This book moves so fast. It is really long, but I honestly didn't notice that at all. The writing was so lyrical at times and also I laughed more while reading this book than the previous 2 books. We also have Yancey inserting real life people like Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Rimbauld. We also have reappearances of several monstrumologists like Jacob Torrance. And we also get to see the dark in Jack Kearns which I thought was very important for what is coming our way for book #3.
The writing does get a bit gruesome per usual, and a few times I felt my stomach heave (Yancey can describe things in such a way you can feel it, smell it, and even taste it). I thought this book was more about finding the monsters within us all and when the doctor and others do finally find the biggest monster ever in monstrumology, the reveal of what it really is should not be surprising to us who have read through three books at this point.
The setting of the book moves from New Jerusalem, to New York, to London, and to the so-called Isle of Blood, and even Venice.
The ending made me sad, because in the end we can see that though the doctor wants to keep Will Henry safe, he may have ultimately failed.