Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon


Title: The Children on the Hill
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: April 26, 2022

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.

An atmospheric and eerie novel that I have come to expect from Jennifer McMahon.

The book is about monsters. The question is are there monsters among us or are we the monsters?

Two timelines are relevant to the story.

In 2019, Lizzy Shelley is on the search to prove monsters do exist. She has a very successful podcast that has a large following. The latest monster she is following, Rattling Jane, is bringing her close to her home in Vermont. She can't stop feeling like she is being pulled back toward her past.

In 1978, Vi and Eric are children living with their grandmother, Helen. Helen Hildreth is a renowned psychiatrist and surgeon. She has a psychiatric facility, Hillside Inn which is having great success with patients. Then Helen brings home a new child. Her name is Iris. She wants the children to treat her as a sister. Iris doesn't speak and she wears a hat that she never wants to remove. Who is Iris and why is she living with them?

The more you get involved in the story the more you learn about these characters and what happened in 1978 and how it is all connected in 2019.

I enjoyed this one but not as much as The Drowning Kind. I like the detail of Lizzy's last name giving you an idea about the connection to Frankenstein. I think what was missing for me was more action or more of a horror/thriller vibe to make it a favorite.

Cliffhanger: No

3.5/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Gallery/Scout Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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