McMahon is such a hit or miss for me. The latest, was definitely a miss. I liked the idea of reimaging Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, but the results were not that great. I think that if the book had stayed more focused on the past before moving onto the “present” maybe the book would have worked better? I don’t know. There were so many plot holes that after a while I just threw my hands up in the air. Also there was a weird subplot with I don’t know…incest? I don’t want to spoil, but other people need to read that and let me know if you weren’t like…WTF every five minutes. The book seemed to have gotten away from her at some point.
“The Children on the Hill” follows popular “monster hunter” Lizzy Shelley in 2019. Lizzy we find out quickly has a somewhat murky past. She goes across America lecturing and even filming where people have claimed local monsters are behind missing girls and other incidents. Lizzy though has her eyes on a particular monster that seems to be behind the disappearances of girls throughout the past 20 plus years. Lizzy has an idea she knows who is behind it.
The setting of the book jumps across time periods of the 1970s, to us reading excerpts from a “book” I think? in the 1980s, and then the present day with Lizzy. The 1970s has us following Violet Hildreth who loves her life and that fact that her grandmother (Dr. Helen Hildreth) is a brilliant psychiatrist that runs the local treatment center (mental institution). Violet and her brother Eric take turns spying on the employees and making notes on particular patients. When Helen comes to Violet about bringing in a young girl (Iris) that won’t talk, she tells Violet that she’s responsible for her and to see the young girl like she would a sister.
I don’t know, I didn’t warm to Violet at all. She felt manipulative and pushy throughout the course of the book. Her deciding that she would be a monster hunter and having Eric and Iris as part of the club didn’t really work. When the book shifts to Violet being focused on what her grandmother is up to at the institution it felt like a pretty big leap. I think that McMahon was more focused on the twist and not the set-up part of things.
The other characters didn’t fare very well. I thought Eric was just there after a while. Same with Violet’s grandmother.
And then we get to the plot holes which I can’t talk too much about. But I have a hard time with most of the things that happened when all is revealed.
The flow of the book was up and down. I think that jumping back and forth slowed down the action. And then of course getting the book excerpts, we knew something “bad” had happened, we just had to wait a really long time to get there.
The ending was such a non-starter. I read it and went…wait what? I don’t know. I think as another reader pointed out. That whole thing just leaves it open for Lizzy to find “her monster” again because I can’t imagine she let go of what she now suspects.