1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.
Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.
Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they dream up ways to defeat all manner of monsters. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.
2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.
Normally I love Jennifer McMahon’s novels, but this one was not up to par with the others.
The children, Violet, Iris, and Eric, are all well-written with vivid imaginations, and particularly good character development.
Lizzy is not so well-rounded, which made the twist about her identity obvious. She should be the most interesting character in the book. She’s a monster hunter! However, she’s not particularly interesting and not terribly good at her job. It’s as if she doesn’t actually want to find the monster she’s been chasing, which makes some sense once you know the background.
Honestly, had this book just focused on the children, I probably would have loved it, but I feel like the time jumps to adult Lizzy were just there for the sake of the “twist,” which I guessed wishing the first fifty pages.
I realize that I might be being unfair because I hold McMahon’s work in such high regard, but this is just not her best.