Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Review: Monsters by Emerald Fennell

Publication Date: September 3rd 2015
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Length: 288 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

A blackly comic tale about two children you would never want to meet. 
Set in the Cornish town of Fowey, all is not as idyllic as the beautiful seaside town might seem. The body of a young woman is discovered in the nets of a fishing boat. It is established that the woman was murdered. Most are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not - a twelve-year-old girl. She is delighted; she loves murders. Soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Then Miles Giffard, a similarly odd twelve-year-old boy, arrives in Fowey with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand... 
A book about two twelve-year-olds that is definitely not for kids.

The blurb intrigued me, but sadly it seemed to vastly over-estimate the comedy in this book. It wasn’t a dark comic tale, it was just dark. And twisted. And quite frankly horrific in places.

I am obviously not the intended audience, but with characters that have no redeeming qualities and aren’t even remotely likeable I’m struggling to work out who the intended audience might be. It’s most definitely not a story for children, but the voice (despite intended to be a thirteen year old girl) comes across as that of an eight year old, so it’s not quite the right fit for adults either.

As I said the characters have no redeeming qualities. They’re dark and twisted and horrible. The subject matter tackled is at times utterly horrific. Trigger warnings for rape, sexual abuse, paedophilia, emotionally and physically abusive relationships and death. All things that are good to see tackled in fiction, but not in this throwaway fashion. The handling of the subject material was what I objected to most and I ended up feeling physically ill at several points in the book.

Why did I keep reading you ask? Well a) it was a short book, b) I had some vague hope of a good ending (spoiler alert, it’s not satisfying in the slightest) and c) it was kind of like watching a car accident, or when you accidentally start watching a horror movie and you can’t turn it off.

The writing is good though, which is a strange contrast to the subject matter. So if nothing else, it is definitely well written, it just really was not the book for me. It’s not one I would recommend, and I had to scrub my brain clean with another book before even attempting to sleep after finishing this one.

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