Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

The Turner family is a bit...strange. Noah Turner's father died of cancer. But before he passed, he became obsessed with building a Halloween haunted house that would thrill and delighte people from miles around. After he died, Noah's mother hid all of his papers away, much to the ire of her eldest daughter, Sydney.

Then, when Noah is just 6, Sydney goes missing. And Noah makes a peculiar friend.

A Cosmology of Monsters is an odd and fabulous read! It's literary horror (leaning a bit more literary than horror in my opinion, but perfect for fans of both genres) that examines family relationships, mental health, and so much more!

The story doesn't begin with Noah—well, it does, because he is our narrator, but then he backtracks to tell of his family's origins. How his mother and father met. And I immediately felt a kinship with both Noah's mother and father! His father, perusing books he hasn't paid for and his mother, the irritated bookseller who takes her frustrations in life out on this poor soul!

Soon they are married and have two children, Sydney and Eunice. And things are good for a while. And then they aren't.

In the meantime, Noah's father begins obsessing over building a haunted house. Pieces and parts begin to take over their house and their yard. Every minute is devoted to planning and building the thing and soon the whole family is involved. It should have been a fun affair except that it becomes and all consuming obsession, one Noah's mother isn't on board for especially when she finds out she's pregnant with a third child.

Jumping forward six years, Noah is a child who never knew his father but lives in his shadow. His loss affected the family greatly. His oldest sister clashes with their mother regularly. But the rift in their relationship goes deeper than simply butting heads. Sydney won't let go of her conviction (one she's had since she was a small child) that her mother didn't truly support her father. And Eunice, who'd always stepped up as Noah's best friend, has begun to drift away. Leaving Noah vulnerable and in need of a friend.

And this is when the book gets weird! But in such a good way!

I was intrigued by this book from the start. The cover and the description caught my attention and it was immediately added to my reading plans. But other readers got to it first—and were raving about it! And I mean RAVING! Which could have set me up for disaster, all things considered.

Fortunately it lived up to the hype.

It wasn't exactly what I expected. As I mentioned above, it's literary horror with the bones of a classic horror story wrapped up in a more literary package. Readers who dive more deeply into narratives will find a lot to analyze in this one in terms of family. I would have liked a bit more of the city, but enjoyed what little there was. And I loved the cosmic horror undertones!

A Cosmology of Monsters is an accomplished debut, one that will appeal to readers who like bizarre books that sit between genres. Everyone who reads it is in for an absolute treat!

1 comment:

Jan M. Flynn said...

Sounds like an ideal October read!