Review Blog

Dec 11 2015

Monsters by Emerald Fennell

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Hot Key Books, 2015. ISBN 9781471404627
(Age: 16+) Recommended for people who like dark thrillers. Murder. Horror. Abuse. In the idyllic Cornish town of Fowey, the body of a young woman is found in fishing nets to the horror of the townspeople, but the delight of the young 12 year old girl who is obsessed with reading about murders. When Miles Giffard comes to the hotel where she is staying with her aunt and uncle, they begin to investigate and sneak out of the hotel to play out murder scenes. Then another murder is committed and even though someone is arrested they are certain he is not the murderer.
The horror of the events are a stark contrast to the picture perfect town of Fowey, where Daphne du Maurier once lived, and readers may well be encouraged to pick up her novels to find out about them. The suspense of who is killing off young women will keep mystery aficionados enthralled, and a terrifying conclusion could well lead to nightmares in this compulsive read.
Although narrated in often a comic and heart-rending way by a 12 year old girl and with a cover that could indicate it is for a young adult audience, this is not a story for young teens. There are many dark themes, including child abuse and neglect on one hand with the young narrator and on the other hand a mother pandering and over-indulging the young boy, Miles, who is not allowed to behave like a normal 12 year old boy. Indeed all the adults in the novel are either monsters or highly unlikeable but so well described that they come alive on the page. Uncle Frederick would be one of the most horrible characters I have read about for a long time, while Jean the long term boarder at the hotel, Winny the hotel maid and Miles' mother are also detestable. The down trodden Aunt Maria and Dorothea, Jean's companion elicit some sympathy from the reader. The narrator pulls at the heart strings - she has been orphaned in a horrible way, is unloved and unwanted, but highly intelligent and needy. Miles too has not been fortunate, with a needy mother who hasn't given him a normal home.
Readers will learn much about manipulation and power plays while being taken on a roller coaster ride of murder and corruption.
Pat Pledger

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