Meddling Kids Review (Mystery / Horror)

Title: Meddling Kids | Author: Edgar Cantero | Publisher: Doubleday Books | Pub. Date: 2017-7-11 | Pages: 336 | ISBN13: 9780385541992 | Genre: Horror Mystery Comedy | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley for review consideration.


Meddling Kids

For fans of John Dies at the End and Welcome to Night Vale comes a tour de force of horror, humor, and H.P. Lovecraft. The surviving members of a forgotten teenage detective club (and their dog) must reunite as broken adults to finally solve the terrifying case that ruined them all and sent the wrong man to prison. Scooby Doo and the gang never had to do this!

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Keri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she s got Sean, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting. – Goodreads

Book cover for Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

Meddling Kids Review

 

The title of the book itself lets you know that this book is going to be an ode to a certain well-loved show from the past. And it is. Gloriously so. However, Meddling Kids is also blessedly its own book.  It’s mouthy, irreverent, and considerably darker than the well from which it sprang.  None of the characters had the lives they expected to have after they grew up. They’re all broken in various ways. And they’ve finally had enough. They need to fix their past before they can continue on with their future.

The only way to do that is to revisit the last case they investigated together.

Sometimes the monster isn’t just a man in the mask. And sometimes happy endings aren’t really happy endings. The Blyton Summer Detective Club learns many things about themselves and the town where they spent so many summers in Meddling Kids.

Meddling Kids is a mystery and action filled romp with a Lovecraftian twist to things, soundly tempered with comedy. There are epic fight scenes, run for your lives scenes, dramatic hero scenes, and at least one moment of “We’re screwed!’ The story propels itself along relentlessly.  But it’s also a book about taking control of your life. About stepping out of the role you were slotted into. And, of course, about not being afraid to take charge and kick arse if it needs kicking.

I absolutely love Cantero’s ability to turn a phrase. Some of his lines had me cracking up.

“They remained on the knoll for a while, under the magical spell of things going kablooey in the night.”

“We have all the symptoms you listed: the nightmares, the bitterness, the feeling of being lost..” “ I just described any twenty-five-year-old ever, you self-centered twit!”

 

However, the author also made some salient points along the way too.

“How is that an excuse?!” Andy howled. “Why do all bullies think they can get away with ‘I was a kid’? Guess what: I was a kid too, and I didn’t make other people feel like (crap). You were not a kid, you were an (expletive)!”

 

I wanted to give the author a standing ovation for that particular line. Now if only we can get people start using it against bullies in reality. “Just a kid” excuses a lot of things, but not making other kids’ lives miserable.

For 98% of it, Meddling Kids is a fantastic read. The only real pick I have with the author’s writing, in general, is that his fight scenes need some work. The action in them is fine, but there was one (kindle) page that didn’t have a single period on it. It was all one big sentence. That was a bit hard to read! Still, it’s a fairly minor thing.

But… there was that last scene. The last scene disappointed me. We had this great story, epic battle, suitable creepiness, fantastic dialogue… and then…it happened.

See, Tim, the Weimaraner, was my favorite character in the book. The author very much writes him as if he’s an important character in the book. He’s filled with personality, gives ‘input’ into conversations, and is just a fine, upstanding old chap. His relationship with a certain squeaky toy is adorable.  I don’t even particularly care for Weimerarners, and I wanted to reach into the book and pull Tim out so he could be my dog.

An example of how Tim was written:

Tim smugly trotted off the scene to tell his penguin everything was fine.

So, when the author decides to give us one last bit of information about Tim, all I can ask is “Why”? I don’t understand the inclusion. It wasn’t tying up a thread that needed to be tied up. All it did was add an unneeded explanation that took away some of the charms of a perfectly lovely animal.  Bah!

Overall, though, I loved Meddling Kids. It brought back some great Saturday morning memories but tempered them with the type of humor that fits the adult me. The Lovecraftian bent made the horror hound in me super happy too. It’s not a light and fluffy read, but it is a bloody, funny one!

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