The Yark by Bertrand Santini
I had slight trouble with this one–I couldn’t initially place the audience. I thought it was for children, but the explicit description of eating a child piece by piece at the start even had /my/ skin crawling. The Yark is a Monster (as is Humanity, though his kind is only rarer) that feeds on good children–bad children give him colossal indigestion.
The premise is bleak, in that the Yark is just having awful luck finding good children to eat anymore, and is likely to starve to death soon. There’s a lot of insistence that children in the good old days were much better behaved (and that they were even more hygienic??), and any old Yark could feast at their will.
It has lots of dark humor, like the assessment of the scent of the world’s most wonderful girl, Madeline: “Violet and anise are the heart notes that reveal and underlying melancholy. . . a blend of blood orange and milk sugar, top notes that emanate only from the purest souls.” There’s a dream sequence smorgasbord I liked, as the Yark lies hungry: “boys in bacon, orphan gratin, chicken-fried children, breaded babies, leg of twins, brats in a bun, pate of little girl, stuffed schoolchildren, tandooried toddlers, choirboys in bundt cake…”
Overall I could see this working for a certain kind of middle grade (probably no younger)–the lover of grotesques, of random and dark humor. I was a big fan of Jhonen Vasquez in my preteen years, and I can imagine The Yark would appeal in a similar way–especially the greatly detailed illustrations (the Yark occasionally has tiny skulls matted in his fur!).
(I won this from the LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer giveaway.)