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Curriculum Vital

A blackly comic tale about two children you would never want to meet.

Summer is a time to be with friends and family... but what if your parents died horribly while attempting to patch up their marriage and you have no friends because you're a bit weird?

Cue the horribly idyllic town of Fowey.

Aunt Maria and Uncle Frederick take in their niece from her Grandmother for the summer and she spends the time living in their quaint Cornish hotel and mingling with the village's slightly unusual inhabitants. When the town is shocked by the discovery of a murdered young woman, one twelve year old girl is delighted... she loves murder. Being a detective on your own isn't as fun though, and that's when Miles arrives with his Mother. Can the two teens unravel the clues and solve the murders in this sleepy village?

I love Hot Key's way of classifying books...Monsters Hot Key.png Roughly a third beach, a third bodies, a third crime... oh but don't forget the smidge of pot plants.

Having seen the details of the book pre-publication I have to say that I didn't want to read it, the cover [even with a dead body on the front] reminded me of Enid Blyton and the description left me cold. But, I ended up reading it by accident [a story I wont bore you with] and was glad, because if that hadn't happened I would definitely have missed out.

We're whisked in to the story and keep running at full speed. The girls blase attitude towards everything comes and goes, she's a curious teen with a liking for the macabre, I know people like that and she's on point.

I saw a summary line that said Monsters was "The Shining meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." I can see that, but when I got to the end of the book my first thought was more "This is Hannibal [the TV series] for kids." It starts off really well, creeps you out a bit and the leaves you worrying where a second installment would go... as far as I know there isn't one on the cards but there could be if you go by the story.

There's no denying that Fennell has really found the essence of young teens. There's just enough self discovery mixed with a dash of peer pressure and wanting to fit in with who you think the cool kids are. Every character in the book is a little caricature of small town life, and even with them being all over the spectrum I was surprised that they all seemed to work together.

Things you need to know about this book before you lend it out, but these by no means should put you off recommending in your library:

  • The f-bomb gets dropped a few times, more or less appropriately, it's certainly not just thrown in gratuitously.
  • The main characters play murder games where they pretend to be a killer and his victim.
  • The main characters cause injury and kill during the story.
  • There are references to abuse.

I've read a few books recently where I've ummed and erred about how to classify them, and this one has been added to that list. It's listed in some places as 13 to 15, I'd agreed with that and put it around the 14+. It is a very specific type of read, so it may just depend on the individual reader. What I would say though is that the blurb, while listing it as a black comedy, does not give a good indication of what to expect inside.

Out of curiosity I Googled Fowey, it exists, they have a regatta in August... I think I'll steer clear!

Other books from Emerald Fennell: