The Monsters of Rookhaven – Pádraig Kenny, illustrated by Edward Bettison

‘The Monsters of Rookhaven,’ by Pádraig Kenny, illustrated by Edward Bettison is quite simply one of the most breath-taking and thoughtful novels that I have read in a very long time. Mirabelle lives with family, protected from the eyes of the world by the glamour. They are not the most usual of families, in fact if you were ever to accidentally stumble across them, you might actually think that they are monsters. And when orphans Jem and Tom spot a hole in their world they are terrified by what they discover. Haunting screams from the basement, shape shifting bears and carnivorous flowers await them in this dark and sinister place. But when Jem strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mirabelle, the girl who never ages she soon realises that the real monsters are not those within the walls of the gothic mansion but those who would seek to destroy them because they are filled with fear and suspicion.

Páidraig has created a truly extraordinary story filled with a rich darkness and not in the way you would expect. If you think of monsters, you imagine desperate creatures determined to destroy you, not these nuanced characters who are just trying to find a way to live their lives peacefully. The darkness in the story comes not from the ‘monsters’, but from the thoughts inside people’s minds who are damaged and broken after a horrific World War which has left its mark on all members of the community. It highlights very clearly how easy it is for hatred and distrust to be built up by individuals who cast doubt in what you’ve always believed in. Thematically it feel relevant to the world we live in today and how easily vulnerable members of society can easily become the target for others fears and frustrations with their lives. You might think it’s strange that I see Mirabelle and her family as vulnerable despite their apparent strength and hold over their neighbouring town but their lives are bound by an uneasy truce which takes very little influence to be totally destroyed. The characterisation is flawless, I have a particular fondness for Piglet who is completely consumed by what he knows about others, which finds him banished and feared by everyone. Exquisitely produced, Edward’s sublime illustrations capture perfectly the darkness and drama of this story unfolding in the most stunning of ways.  This book is truly incredible. Hauntingly, beautiful, I  just can’t stop thinking about it.

You can read an extract from this stunning story where Mirabelle meets Jem and Tom for the first time…

 The Monsters of Rookhaven Extract

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for more extracts and reviews…

Thank you to Jo and Macmillan for inviting me to join in with the blog tour. You can buy, ‘The Monsters of Rookhaven,’ now online or from any good bookshop. If you can please support your local independent bookshop, you can find your nearest one here.

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