Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen
|Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Atmospheric and spooky story to suit middle grade and tween readers. It's infused with some beautifully lyrical writing and a real sense of friendship and family. We loved it.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: July 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
Effie lives with her mum and dad and baby sister Tommi in Mivtown - a tiny, straggling village on the edge of a loch. Every year, the villagers throw a parcel of food into the loch as an offering to appease the monsters living in it. Nobody really believes in it but the offering does serve as a warning to keep away from the water. But this year, strange and awful things happen. Effie's rabbit Buster gets out of his hutch even though Effie is sure that she locked it. Mum disappears without trace and even the police can't find her. And then there's the slug infestation. The nasty, slimy things are everywhere.
Could all this have something to do with the legend and the curse? Effie and her best friend Finn decide to investigate. Is there a clue in the black book that Rosemary Tanner carries around with her everywhere? What is Old Bill hiding? How did Buster get out? And where, oh where, is Mum?
I thought this was a gorgeous story. It's tense and atmospheric and just the right amount of scary for a middle grade audience. I liked the balance of this - every bit of sinister is matched by a goodly dollop of the value of friendship and love inside a family. So readers can be scared and reassured at the same time.
Underneath the mystery plotting is Effie, a central character you can really get behind. She's introspective and sometimes lacking in confidence but she's also stubborn and determined. Having spent much of her life resenting a somewhat over-protective mother, the impetus behind her search for the truth of the legend is all tied up with the guilt she feels after her mother disappears. You can't help but root for her.
The whole thing is beautifully written, with a real sense of landscape and environment, a genuine understanding of a child's mind, motivations and feelings, and a clever building of tension. It's both accessible and literary, a combination I love. This one is for readers who like a bit of spookiness and mystery in the story but want the emotional landscape to be realistic.
You can read more book reviews or buy Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Where Monsters Lie by Polly Ho-Yen at Amazon.com.
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