Archives

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

by
Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Published by Random House Audio on July 11, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Horror
Length: 12 hrs 53 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven't seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she's got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter's been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids taps into our shared nostalgia for the books and cartoons we grew up with, and delivers an exuberant, eclectic, and highly entertaining celebration of horror, life, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.

Meddling Kids was my “scary” read for October and I have to say I loved it. In full disclosure, we are huge fans of Scooby-Doo; we own all the original episodes on DVD and some of the newer ones; we read tons of the paperback kids books when Amber was younger. Also, Amber and I have read a fair amount of Lovecraft and we play at least two Lovecraft themed board games occasionally; she even did a report in school on him. So, I feel like I am this book’s target audience. I have not read any of Edith Blyton’s Famous Five stories, but I feel like I should. This book is fabulous on its own, but it’s also a kind of tribute and it knows it, if that makes sense. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yes, it’s fan fic, but the best kind.

You can read the blurb. The Blyton Summer Detective Club “solved” their last mystery back in 1977, but the things didn’t get explained still haunt them. The three still living members, Nate, Kerri, and Andy, and their dog, Tim, a descendant of their companion in the ’70s, head back to Blyton Hills to finally confront the real monsters. Well, the 5th member of the gang, Pete, gets included too, as Nate’s hallucination, which was a pretty smooth way of showing how devastating that final case was and allowing the whole gang to still be together.

I listened to this on audio which worked really well. I loved the writing style. I enjoyed the switches from typical novel style to almost a screenplay format, complete with stage directions. I’m not sure how that worked in the print version, but on audio it made me smile. Cantero has a habit of making up words, like “tragichuckled” and “howlretched.” I love that kind of thing, but I also have a tendency to make up words, just ask my daughter, so I may be a bit biased. I also loved his use of anthropomorphism for everything from gardens to pencils to hair. Okay, the hair bit was overdone – yes Kerri has awesome hair, can we move on? I think though that some of the things I loved may be the same things other people hate.

The monsters were creepy and the fight scenes were good, although not my favorite parts. The scene about the elder thing creature was a bit of a let down though. There was a real flesh and blood villain, but ages away from the guy in the mask.

It’s dark and funny and I loved it. On the one hand, I’m hoping there’s a sequel; the ending did leave it open for one.  On the other, would a second just repeat the same tricks and feel tired?

About Edgar Cantero

Edgar Cantero (born May 27, 1981) is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona, Spain. Once a promising author in the local scene with his awarded 2007 debut Dormir amb Winona Ryder, the highbrow Catalan literary tradition soon lost influence on him in favor of Hollywood blockbusters, videogames and mass-market paperbacks. The punk dystopian thriller Vallvi (2011) was his last book in Catalan before switching to English with The Supernatural Enhancements (2014). His material, ranging from short stories to screenplays, often features women kissing, stuff exploding, and ill-timed jokes.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Slade House by David Mitchell

by
Slade House by David Mitchell Slade House by David Mitchell
Narrator: Thomas Judd, Tania Rodrigues
Published by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group on October 27, 2015
Source: Library
Genres: Horror
Length: 6 hrs 54 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late...

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

Maybe I should have read The Bone Clocks first. Maybe I just don’t get what makes people love David Mitchell. (Do people love David Mitchell?) Maybe it’s just not my typical genre?

I read Slade House for the RIP XII Group Read. I don’t know if I expected it to be spookier or more interesting or what. It was fine, but when I wasn’t listening to it, I didn’t think about it. I didn’t feel the need to share bits of it with anyone or tell my daughter she needs to read it – she’s a horror fan.

Slade House is a type of haunted house story. Basically, every 9 years a victim is lured into the house. Each time we get to know the victim; they each have a distinct personality, their own quirks, tragedies, or fears that make them relatable. We get some standard spooky house fare, portraits, creeky stairs, mysterious women looking out the windows, warning disembodied voices. But once they eat or drink something they are good and trapped and the Grayer Twins eat their souls. The Grayers are psychic adepts who are feeding their own immortality with other’s souls. There’s a complete system of how they do it involving a lacuna in the attic, a space where time stands still and an orison which is some kind of reality bubble that lets the twins seperate their victims’ souls from their bodies.

I listened to the audio version and the narrators were wonderful. They kept me involved in the story and I think the set-up with basically five different stories forming the novel kept me interested too, just to see who the twins got next. And wondering if there really were weapons in the cracks.

Discussion questions posted at Estella’s Revenge:

1. Slade House is broken up into five parts and is narrated by five characters. Which one did you like best and why? I think my favorite part was the section narrated by Sally. The world the Grayers create for this version of Slade House, with its college Halloween party, is the most fully formed. And I liked Sally and felt bad for her. She just wanted to be loved and to fit in. Also, I love how she comes back in a later section. She was stronger than any one would have given her credit for.

2. In my opinion, this is not a traditional”scary” book. Each new guest in the house reveals more about Slade House and the Grayer twins. Did you find any of it unsettling? I didn’t think it was particularly scary either. The first section with the little boy had some unsettling parts, but once the rhythm of Slade House was established, it became a bit predictable.

3. This quote, discuss: “Grief is an amputation, but hope is incurable hemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed.”  You grieve when you lose someone, but you no the loss is final. When there’s still hope that the person will be found, you never can get closure. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it referred to exactly in that way, but it feels familiar.

4. Norah and Jonah…sympathetic or nah? Not really. I don’t feel like we really got a chance to know them as people.

5. We didn’t learn much about what Norah and Jonah do between each nine–year cycle, but we do know that they have a lot of freedom and many resources at their disposal. What would you do with a gifted existence like this one? Travel. Learn new skills.

6. The ending. What did you think? I actually liked the ending. A bit melodramatic, but that fit.

It is fun enough and for a semi-spooky October read it worked. I did like the ending, the last little bit that makes you wonder where the story will go next.

About David Mitchell

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, Ghostwritten and The Bone Clocks. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell co-translated from the Japanese the international bestselling memoir, The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Thornhill by Pam Smy

by
Thornhill by Pam Smy Thornhill by Pam Smy
Published by Roaring Brook Press on August 29, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Middle School, Ghost Story
Pages: 544
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines Mary s through intimate diary entries and Ella s in bold, striking art Pam Smy's Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, and a suspense-filled story.

Thornhill is spooky and heart-breaking. Ella is sad and lonely, but when she glimpses a girl in the window of the Thornhill Institute, she becomes obsessed with finding out who she was and what happened to her. Mary lived at the Institute in the 1980s, also a sad, lonely girl who is bullied and terrorized by the other girls.

Thornhill is at heart a ghost story. We know from the beginning that Mary’s a ghotst, but her diary entries made me cry. Her life at Thornhill was miserable, and few of the adults around her seemed competent or truly caring. Ella’s story is just as sad. I assume her father loves her, but he’s never home and her mom is gone, presumably dead. Her side of the story is depicted in black and white illustrations that are striking and add to the dark atmosphere of the novel. We know something happened to Mary, but not what.

I think this is one of those stories that a middle-schooler would enjoy. It’s just spooky enough and the ending was dark and and an appropriate, if sad, conclusion. I was talking about it quickly with my daughter and she said kids in middle school like sad books, and i’ll have to take her word for it. Thornhill It deals with big issues like bullying, revenge, and suicide, and there were adults that could have helped, but didn’t.

It’s an engrossing story, but to be honest, I wish I hadn’t read it. For me it was a depressing book. I cried through half of it and I’d like to give it 1 star for that reason. However, I gave it 4 starts because it is engrossing and relevant.

About Pam Smy

Pam Smy studied Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, part of Anglia Ruskin University, where she now lectures part-time. Pam has illustrated books by Conan Doyle (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Julia Donaldson (Follow the Swallow) and Kathy Henderson (Hush, Baby, Hush!), and her own, among others. She lives in Cambridge.

%d bloggers like this: