Peculiar is one of my least favourite words. Everyone is always describing me as peculiar, especially grown-ups.
All is not well in the Cornish town of Fowey. The body of a women has washed ashore in this quiet, seaside holiday location. Everyone is shocked by the murder except for one 12 year old girl, staying with her aunt and uncle for the summer. She loves murders, the more gruesome the better, and she’s sure she could do a better job than the incompetent local police at solving the crime. Then she finds a partner in Miles, who seems to take even more glee in the crime than her, if that was possible. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
Is this a story of two budding sociopaths or just a couple of kids with an interest in the macabre? That’s up to you to decide. I thought Miles showed more signs of sociopathy than the narrator (I apologise if she has a name but I can’t for the life of me remember it). The fact that the narrator hasn’t the same social constraints as the adults, and shares some of her less savoury thoughts, means the pages are scattered with a dark humour.
Sometimes, when I’m angry, I get the feeling that I’m filled with conger eels like the tank in the aquarium, all cold and slithery.
The story feels as if it’s from a different era. I think sometimes seaside tourist towns can seem trapped in the past, but there’s a clear lack of internet and mobile communication going on. It harks back to the days when children had to make their own entertainment over the summer. It helps that there is a real drama here, but you can imagine it as a game they would make up. Indeed, Miles does invent a rather disturbing game of Murder where our narrator must play the victim. However it does need to at least be in the late nineties as The Lost Gardens of Heligan are no longer lost.
You’d be surprised what people would do to live in a beautiful town full of flags and sunshine and with no litter on the streets.
If you need to like the characters in order to enjoy a book, you might want to pass on this one. However I had a lot of sympathy for the narrator. It didn’t sound like her parents had a lot of time for her when they were alive and now she is a victim of abuse. My heart bled for her when her period starts and no one has ever really told her about it. At times I felt the monsters weren’t the children but the people around them.
Some of the people of the town come across a bit caricature like but it kind of adds to the charm. The styles is a little like that of a “cosy crime” mystery even if the main characters aren’t all that cosy. I’ve seen a few reviews saying it’s not for younger readers but I loved Point Horror as a pre-teen and I don’t think this is any grizzlier, though perhaps better written!
Monsters is published by Hot Key Books and will be available in paperback and ebook formats from 3rd September 2015. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.