The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

The gist: Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this time-skipping monster-hunting story revolves around the Vi, Eric and Violet—the grandchildren of a prominent scientist who runs a treatment facility for the mentally ill. Their story slowly unfolds as the chapters jump from their childhood years in the late 1970s to their middle-age lives in 2019. In between chapters, we get snippets from a true crime-type novel documenting the horrific happenings up on that hill those many years ago. Obviously, things didn’t end well for the adventurous grandchildren, but you’re going to have to wait until the very end to find out what went down. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!

What I liked: OK, so I know a lot of reviewers knocked this book for being disjointed with the time-hopping chapters, but I rather liked this rhythm and flow. In one chapter, I’m hunting for monsters with a bunch of pre-teens, and then I’m whisked into year 2019 with the grown-up Liz, who is now a renowned monster hunter podcaster. I’m a big fan of paranormal podcasts, so this added an intriguing element to the story. And, as always, the author did an incredible job painting the scene with the spooky backdrop of the backwoods of Vermont….where the evil “Rattling Jane” roams.

What irked me: I promise, this isn’t a spoiler, but there was a kissing scene between the two “sisters” that didn’t make any sense whatsoever. I have nothing against girl-girl kissing scenes, but I just don’t know how this added to the story. It just seemed like something the editor could’ve cut out since it just came out of nowhere for no reason. Am I missing something here?

Overall: As with all of Jennifer McMahon’s books, this is an atmospheric, creepy read for spooky season. She even throws in an eerie urban legend involving a witchy woman made of fish bones and moss who crawls out of the lake to drag children into a watery grave—ooooooooh! That’s what I love about her books—she always weaves in a creeptastic urban legend that will forever haunt my dreams. There’s also a plot twist that most readers probably won’t see coming. I am rather proud to say that I had it figured out…well, mostly…but there were still a few more surprises I didn’t see coming in the final chapters.

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