A side note – I was very happy to read this book by my fellow Irish author because it’s horror for Middle Grade readers (yay! Very interested in this!). Equally thrilling – I have a hardback! With a detachable sleeve! Really exciting stuff… 😊
The Monsters are not always those you expect…
Mirabelle lives in Rookhaven with her Family: Uncle Enoch, Uncle Bertram, Aunt Eliza, Odd, Piglet, twins Dotty and Daisy, and newcomer Gideon. Mirabelle doesn’t need to eat or sleep (lucky thing!), unlike the rest of the family, who require a good supply of raw meat to feed on every night. Yes, Mirabelle’s Family are the eponymous Monsters of Rookhaven.
Thanks to an ancient agreement with the nearby village, the Family no longer hunt humans, and in return the village supplies the Family with its supply of fresh (non-human) meat. While the village is sworn to never reveal the location of Rookhaven, a glamour also protects the house from discovery. Only the local doctor (who holds the key) and the butcher (who delivers the meat with his son) are entrusted with a way of entering Rookhaven. The glamour however is wearing thin, and a large tear has opened in it, allowing anyone to walk through, should they find it.
Which is exactly what happens when the car that runaway kids Jem (Jemima) and her brother Tom stole runs out of fuel. It’s shortly after World War 2, the orphans are escaping from a brutal uncle, they have no food, no money, nowhere to go and are stranded in the woods near the house. Tom is feverish, and when the siblings stumble through the tear, they meet Mirabelle who fortunately insists, in the teeth of Family opposition, they stay in Rookhaven until Tom gets better. Meanwhile Uncle Enoch worries about the tear in the glamour, and Piglet (locked in the basement because he is too dangerous) senses upheaval rapidly approaching.
This is a very entertaining read with a great array of characters. I particularly loved Piglet, Gideon and Uncle Bertram. Even minor characters are depicted with a lot of heart, especially the villagers dealing with the aftermath of world war 2 which is touched gently upon. I enjoyed getting to know the Family and the world from the start of the book but the pace and excitement really picked up for me when Mr Pheeps arrives half way through the book.
Family, friendship, removing barriers of pain, hurt, fear and distrust between people are all themes of this book. Pheeps makes a great monster, with his true terrifying nature not recognised by most people, a concept I really like.
TOTP says four paws up for a scary read.
If you like monsters (in books, I mean, not real life), you are bound to love this book and its monstrous characters!
8 diamonds out of 10