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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Review: The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

The Children on the Hill
by Jennifer McMahon

Thanks so much to Gallery/Scout Press for these gifted copies.

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Publish Date: April 26, 2022
352 Pages
Genre: Horror

A genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, which brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.

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 catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. 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.

The Children on the Hill takes us on a breathless journey to face the primal fears that lurk within us all.

 My Review:

Ohmyghoulish did I love this story!! We spend a lot of time in Vi's head, so at times I questioned if that made it more of a YA novel, but if it was then it certainly didn't feel very YA and the I scolded myself for even having this conversation. Yeah, ahem. Vi is a very precocious girl with a love for monsters. So much so that she has created her own Monster Club, has kept an illustrated journal of anything monster - from facts to various types. I mean, how cute is THAT?!?!

There are a couple of timelines we go through, and one thing McMahon is genius at is getting that atmosphere suspensefully delicious. You're always going to want another bite. We get notes of experimentation, Frankenstein vibes, historical maliciousness and the power of the innocence of childhood. I dunno. It just really hit me right in the feels. Did I find this scary at all? No. But I did absolutely feel all the eerie vibes and wasn't expecting how it all ended up coming together.

My favorite McMahon so far. And no, I haven't read The Winter People yet, but it is burning a hold on my bookshelf.


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