Length: 352 pages
Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 30 minutes
First Published: 2022
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery/Scout Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
In 1978, Vi and Eric live with their grandmother, Dr. Helen Hildreth, who runs a psychiatric treatment facility next door to their home. One day, their grandmother brings home a girl from the facility to be their new sister. As Vi and Eric teach her all about monsters, Vi begins to question their grandmother’s methods. Meanwhile, in the present day, a podcaster investigates a child abduction and monster sighting in a small town, thinking it’s connected to her long-lost sister.
In true McMahon fashion, The Children on the Hill blends horror with deep family relationships that makes for a particularly spooky read. However, I struggled with the monster angle of her latest book. I know McMahon was connecting with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but I much preferred her previous novels that were about ghosts. I will admit the twist was well done, but I didn’t like that McMahon tied up all the loose ends instead of leaving you with an eerie open ending. Nitpicky, I know. Still, I think McMahon’s fans will be satisfied with The Children on the Hill.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Drowning Kind comes a genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, that brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.
1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when’s she home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.
Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.
Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.
2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.
About Jennifer McMahon
Jennifer McMahon is the author of nine novels, including Promise Not to Tell, The Winter People, The Children on the Hill, My Darling Girl, and The Drowning Kind. She currently lives in Vermont. Visit the author’s website →