(Website, Twitter)Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 1, 2019
Genres: Family, Horror, Young Adult
The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets
Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.
In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.
Then Deirdre disappears.
And when something awful comes scratching at Skye's window in the middle of the night, claiming she's the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.
I can’t lie – I was immediately drawn to Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Berube because of the cover. When I read the summary, I was even more intrigued. In the end, there were things I liked about this book and some things I didn’t love which ultimately made this one a middle of the road read for me.
The story focuses on Skye, a sixteen-year-old girl who has a younger sister Deirdre. Their family recently moved and now that Skye is a bit older and in a new school, she doesn’t want to be the one to get Deirdre out of scrapes at school or even the person Deirdre relies on to save her. As Skye shifts away from her, Deirdre becomes withdrawn and spends all her time in the swamp behind their house. Because of this and some of the things she does when she is around other people, they think Deirdre is weird and this only causes Deirdre to withdraw even more.
One night, the unthinkable happens and Deirdre disappears. Since Skye was technically supposed to be watching her, she feels guilty and starts to dig into what Deirdre was up to. This is where it gets a little odd because this is when Skye is approached by creatures from Deirdre’s fantasy world and told she is the only person who can save Deirdre. As the story progresses, we find out more about Skye’s history and how that impacts her friendships now.
I thought the relationship between Skye and Deirdre was interesting. It was clear that Skye wanted to change things which I attribute to their past as well as the fact that she was growing up, but Deirdre definitely did not, and she was completely lost and frustrated. I also think that Deirdre created some of her problems…similar to what Skye was reflecting on and using as a reason to distance herself. Despite all of that, when it came down to it, Skye still chose Deirdre…even though it may not have done her any good.
This was a fast-paced story and the characters felt real to me. The parents seemed like your typical, overworked, stressed out parents and Skye’s friends came across as normal teens to me. With that said, I have to connect with the characters and I don’t think there was a single person in this book that I aligned with…maybe Skye’s dad because it felt like he just kept getting beat up (emotionally) by her mom and I felt bad for him about it. Otherwise no one really stood out to me as likeable.
I also think the structure of the book threw me off a bit as I was expecting deeper dives into the specific characters or their POVs with the section headers and that isn’t really what came across in each section. Tie that with the pacing of the story and it just didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would. Some of it dragged while at times there were parts that was thinking I could have just skimmed through. I also thought the ending just sort of came up and the book was done…it didn’t feel finished to me.
Overall, this was an interesting read. Fans of YA horror or creepy, otherworldly books might enjoy this one. While I didn’t love this book, I will definitely be checking out any future stories by Berube as I like the creepy vibe that this one had.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.