Format: Hardback novel
I picked up Meddling Kids because Goodreads recommended it to me and because I absolutely loved the cover. If you like Scooby Doo, Stranger Things, the Stephen King novel IT, or 80’s/90’s nostalgia horror like My Best Friend’s Exorcism, then this book is made for you.
Meddling Kids is about four former teenage detectives who are now 25 years old. Their last case, the Sleepy Lake Monster, left deep marks on their psyches, driving each of them to lives of crime, apathy, insanity, and, one case, suicide. Now they’re returning to the place where the trauma occurred to put the mystery to rest permanently. Unlike their other cases, however, there isn’t a man behind a rubber mask responsible. Something supernatural is occurring in Sleepy Lake, something almost incomprehensible to the human mind.
This book succeeds for a lot of reasons, not least because it’s very self-aware and unafraid to be silly. Cantero uses a third-person omniscient narrator that often “head-hops” from character to character, which can be a bit jarring at first, but which is very effective for giving us all the characters’ perspectives, including that of Tim the dog, whose moments were my favorite ones. Cantero also breaks the fourth wall several times in service to keeping the feel light and humorous even as his protagonists grapple with grief, trauma, and unspeakable Lovecraftian horrors. I couldn’t help thinking how much my critique group would hate the manuscript for its many “sins,” but the places where Cantero breaks the rules of writing were my favorite parts, proving that anything can work if it’s done well.
I also appreciated the pace of the book–it’s short and tends to move quickly, making it a good choice for readers like me who have attention problems. I admit I did skim a few pages when the characters were descending into the mines in search of monsters, but that’s pretty typical for me. The revelations at the end of the book are numerous and satisfying. Another plus: Good LGBTQ and POC representation.
Overall, I give this book 5/5 fearless Weimaraners.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying my new fiction collection or backing my Patreon. I’m not currently accepting books for review, but I will consider recommendations from Patreon backers and blog readers. Thanks for reading! 🙂