Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Children on the Hill

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon
4/26/22; 352 pages
Gallery/Scout Press

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon is a very highly recommended chilling, creepy, and intense psychological thriller. This is a must read!

In 1978, psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth treats patients at the Hillside Inn, her psychiatric hospital in Vermont. Living with their grandmother are Violet “Vi” and her brother, Eric. One day Gran brings another child home, Iris, a sister for them. The two are instructed to help her and so they take the new girl under their care. They invite her to join their Monster Club, where they keep a notebook of all kinds of monsters and how to defeat them. As Vi explains to Iris, monsters are everywhere.

In 2019 Lizzy Shelley (formerly Vi), a researcher and host of the podcast Monsters Among Us, travels to Vermont where it is reported that a young girl has been abducted by Rattling Jane, a legendary local monster. Lizzy has spent her life looking for monsters because she knows they exist. And she knows her sister is one of them.

Alternating between the two time periods, 1978 and 2019, this exceptional novel follows childhood memories and recent events as it ramps up the tension and the stories in the two timelines eventually connect. Among the chapters are excerpts from The True Story of the Hillside Inn, a book written about what happened at the Hillside Inn, passages from the children's notebook, The Book of Monsters, and the thoughts of the monster being hunted. All of these various sources of information are presented in a unique individual style.

Although the overwhelming issue is who is the monster and what happened forty years ago, the characters are all developed according to their ages. You are going to have questions though, and will want answers which will be eventually answered. The atmosphere is tense throughout as you compulsively keep reading to discover more information, clues, and hopefully, answers to the many questions you will have.

Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this is a suspenseful, compelling, and intense psychological thriller that will keep you glued to the pages until the end. The writing and presentation is absolutely perfect. It is not a re-writing of the original Frankenstein but is a unique story on its own. McMahon will keep your attention throughout while you try to figure out what is real, what is imagined, and what is really going on in both time periods. There are a couple of completely surprising twists that stunned me. The Children on the Hill is a winner.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

No comments: