Things live between awake and asleep. In the moment after your eyes grow too heavy to stay open, but before the dreams take you…
Molly lives with her Mother in a large, creaking house that she wishes were haunted. There may be no ghosts, but what about monsters? Monsters with an unending appetite that like to steal people away in the black of night.
When, one morning, Molly wakes to find her own Mother missing, she discovers she has a potentially fatal task ahead of her. With only her dead Gran and a retired adventurer by her side, Molly must travel to a dangerous and untrustworthy land somewhere between awake and asleep, before her Mother finds herself planted in a most monstrous garden.
A Monstrous Place is the perfect book for children to read at Halloween. A mix of The Nightmare on Elm Street and Doctor Who with a dash of Coraline thrown in, A Monstrous Place is a clever and chilling story for a generation brought up with the unimaginative jump scare films. Matthew Stott presents a compelling and exciting plot that takes normal horror conventions and spins them on their head; he creates a horror novel that is both funny and charming at the same time. This is an incredible feat; I can think of few horror novels for children that I’ve read that have not only attempted this but actually succeeded.
Stott’s masterstroke it to combine a fast paced plot which follows some of the conventions of the horror genre but also subverts others; it isn’t often that your central characters are a nine year old girl, her dead grandmother and an old adventurer who has more in common with Dennis The Menace’s foe, The Colonel than Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street. This invaluably works in the book’s favour because it makes everything distinctive and unique.
To add to this, Stott’s characters aren’t just unusual; they are engaging and likeable. The central character of Molly is funny and realistic; she is like a real life girl that is caught in a horrific situation yet doesn’t lose her cool or become unlikeable. She is one of the main reasons that the book is so enjoyable – Stott makes all of his characters as relatable as possible. They are not simply horror tropes, they are living, breathing characters that we care for and we want to see them get out of the situation alive.
Overall, Stott’s created a disturbing fantasy world packed with engaging characters and not horror clichés. His delightful and intelligent mixing of the typical horror film styles with the more fantastical elements of modern Doctor Who leaves the reader with a witty, bonkers book that walks the tightrope between chilling and reassuring. The prefect read for Halloween.
With thanks to Matthew Stott.