book review

By Wood, Stone, Water, and Bone: Review of Here There Are Monsters

Hi! Today I’m here with a review – in case you couldn’t tell already – of Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé. I’ve mentioned this in practically all of my posts, so I’d be surprised if you weren’t aware, but I am participating in the Out of Your Comfort Zone challenge this year and one of the genres I want to read more from is horror, which is why I picked up this book. Also, before reading the Goodreads synopsis I have included below, please know that it mentions events that don’t occur until after half way through the book. Aside from that, there are no spoilers in my review 🙂

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armour for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighbourhood, 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.

THE GOOD

I was drawn in to this book from the beginning, as the plot was introduced immediately: Skye’s sister, Deirdre, has gone missing.  The writing style started out as intriguing as did the sisters’ characters.  The book is written in such a way as that we get both the present and the past unfolding in alternate chapters, and I was glad to find that I didn’t have a preference for either timeline – both had mysteries I wanted the answers to and developed the characters in a meaningful way.

I really enjoyed Skye as a character.  The book is told from her perspective, so the reader gets a very clear insight into her thoughts and feelings, which often steer into a morally grey area.  Deirdre, however, was the most interesting to me because we only see her actions from an outside point of view and there is no way to know what is motivating her to do the weird things she does.  I was so intrigued and wish we’d got a little more of her – some chapters from inside her head would have been incredible.

Though I really liked the first part of the book, there was a section near the end, that lasted perhaps 10 to 20 pages, which I adored.  It was absolutely bizarre, riveting and the most atmospheric part of the book – it was what I had been hoping the entire second half of the book would have been like.

THE BAD

Leading off of the good points – I wish there had been so much more of that bizarre section of the book!  As I said, it was only about 10 pages and for a book of over 350, it simply wasn’t enough for me.  I had grown so bored after the first third that I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the most interesting bit was over in the blink of an eye.

I’d also by that point grown tired of certain phrases that had been repeated constantly by Skye and the other characters.  And it wasn’t only phrases that were repeated.  I remember a few pages in particular where nothing happened except for two characters arguing back and forth using the same points just worded in a slightly different way.  Very boring.

Adding to the above point, I just felt that the writing style overall diminished in quality as the book went on which was disappointing.

Another thing to know is that there was one male character who made some inappropriate comments about a female character, and it was brushed off by her.  She essentially said it was okay for him to sexualise her because he knew she was a lesbian, and folks, that did not sit right with me.  Of course this is just how the characters dealt with this situation and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the author’s views, it just felt icky to me that this wasn’t challenged and it pulled me out of the story.

THE IN BETWEEN

If I hadn’t already been aware this book fit into the horror genre, I would have told you at the halfway point that it was simply a mystery.  Though I appreciated the way the book shifted gears, I feel it could have been done a little better – there could have been more hints of the horror to come in the beginning.

The love/hate sister relationship throughout the novel was mostly done very believably, though there were times where I felt it crashed over the line into full-blown hate territory, which had me feeling conflicted.

I found the ending to be pretty unsatisfying even though there was closure.  I’m not entirely sure what could have been done differently to make me like it better though.

IN CONCLUSION

Though there were distinct parts of this novel that I loved, there were more parts that left me feeling indifferent.  I’d describe this book as a horror-infused Bridge to Terabithia and recommend it if you’re looking for something a little scary and atmospheric with complicated family relationships.

What do you think?

Have you read this book, or is it on your TBR?  What’s the best YA horror that you’ve read?  Let me know in the comments!

6 thoughts on “By Wood, Stone, Water, and Bone: Review of Here There Are Monsters

  1. Great post!! It is fun to try out different genres and horror/mystery is one I have rarely read myself. It sounds like it was kind of successful as you liked parts of it but it is a shame that your favourite bit was only a few pages and left you wanting more.
    I do like the idea of complicated family relationships though.
    I hate it when there is a comment you disagree with and it is just brushed off because it plays on your mind a bit that it was never highlighted as wrong.
    I’m sorry this book wasn’t perfect for you but I loved reading all your thoughts!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting and really well-balanced review! It sounds like the book in itself was LESS well-balanced though LOL. I wanted to read this one, until I managed to read the author’s debut The Dark Between the Ice and it left me lukewarm. I have a friend that liked HTAM even less than that one, and she’s kind of an expert when it comes to horror. Honestly, 10/20 awesome pages out of 350 seems a bit mediocre…Also, while I can condone inappropriate stuff not being countered in older books, I hate when it happens in new ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Haha, yes, definitely.
      Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy The Dark Between the Ice – I was considering giving that one a go, but now I’m not so sure.
      Yeah, I wish so much that there were more awesome pages. There were of course many that weren’t outright bad, but yes – out of 350, it wasn’t enough.

      Like

  3. It sounds like this was a good one overall but it could have included more horror and more of the bizarre element that you loved at the end! I like the sound of Skye though and it sounds like she is a good character to follow through the story with. I have been hearing a lot of things about this one lately but it seems either to be positive or mediocre reviews which is good to me! Nothing bad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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