Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Delicious Monsters
Author: Liselle Sambury
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Canadian Black MC, Black characters, Black plus size MC, Black gay side character, Korean side character, Plus size side charcters, Sri Lankan Canadian lesbian side character, Sapphic relationship mentioned
Recommended For…: young adult readers, paranormal, ghosts, haunted houses, horror, thriller, mystery, supernatural
Publication Date: February 28, 2023
Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Age Relevance: 15+ (death, language, sexual content, racism, religious trauma, Christian religion, child abuse, child sexual abuse, child neglect, grief, underage alcohol consumption, blood gore, teen pregnancy, animal death and violence, body shaming, ghost possession, narcissistic abuse, suicide, grooming, violence)
Explanation of Above: There is death, blood gore/body horror, grief, and violence in this book. There is also animal death and violence to a goat detailed off-screen a couple of times in the book. There is some slight vague sexual content, some religious trauma, and a mention of Christianity. There are some slight showings and off-page mentions of child abuse, child sexual abuse, grooming, child neglect, and teen pregnancy. Narcissistic abuse including gaslighting, body shaming via fatphobia and skinny shaming, and ghost possession are also shown in the book. There is some cursing. There are a couple of instances of racism being mentioned. There is one scene of underage alcohol consumption. There are a handful of ghostly possession scenes. There is an off-page mention of suicide.
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Synopsis: Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?
As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
Review: I loved this book so much! I loved all the gothic vibes to it and how it was told in a Duel POV, but separated by time and from kinda a documentary style look at it. The two stories, which are their own separate stories, intertwine to create a story kinda about intergenerational trauma. In both stories, the mother character is narcissistic, neglectful, and/or downright abusive. They parentify their daughters in an attempt for the daughters to take care of things for them (Daisy with her powers, Brittney with her stability). They discard their daughters for their own selfish whims, but, as shown with Grace, the mothers may be the villains but they can also be the victims. I felt that deep in my bones when reading this book. As someone who’s mother is narcissistic and has been on the receiving end of a lot of abuse, it’s been a long fight on my end to stop the abuse before I pass it to my children, but also a long fight on my mother’s end to correct the mistakes her mother made to her. Trauma can be inherited and this book does so well to symbolize that in so many different ways. The book is not only a deep metaphor for what we are handed at birth, but one about how ultimately we have the power in us to stop the abuse and become healthier individuals, whether that be through confrontation and cut off or through rebirth and redemption. The book is extremely well written and is one of Sambury’s best works to date. The characters are well developed and the world building is immaculate. The story is wonderfully well told and if you’re into stories about haunted houses ala Rose Madder, this may be the one for you.
The only issue I had with the book is that in the arc there are a couple of points where it’s not clear what happened or how certain characters got to conclusions, but I have no doubt that was all cleaned up in the finalized version.
Verdict: Highly recommend this for everyone who has generational trauma to process.