It’s time to start getting ready for Summer, and if you’re an old school horror fan, have I got a book recommendation for you. It’s called Meddling Kids and its author, Edgar Cantero, has created the perfect vacation adventure to put at the very top of your reading lists.
Take one part Famous Five, one part Scooby-Doo, and go way back to grab some H.P. Lovecraft. Mix them all together and you’ll begin to understand the genius that is Meddling Kids.
For those unaware, the Famous Five was a series of popular books in the UK written by Enid Blyton that involved four best friends and their faithful dog who would solve mysteries and hunt for lost treasure together.
It’s not a leap to say that they’re the precursors for the Scooby Gang that many Americans grew up with starting in the late 60s.
So what’s going on in Cantero’s novel?
Once upon a time, a group of youngsters (Peter, Kerri, Nate, and Andy) would spend their holidays in Blyton Hills. (See what he did there?) Every Summer they would band together to solve the mysteries that eluded the local authorities.
They called themselves the Blyton Summer Detective Club, and everything was going well until their final case. Something went wrong; something was just a little more real than a man in a mask.
Their lives spun out of control after that and they drifted apart, and Cantero doesn’t shy away from showing that aftermath.
Peter is dead; Kerri’s an alcoholic; Andy’s a wandering badass in trouble with the law and Nate is in a mental institution.
Andy has decided the only way their lives will ever be back on course is to go back to Blyton one last time and confront the real life monster that’s been chasing them for 13 years.
It isn’t only their dangers that have grown up, however. Andy, whose real name is Andrea, is ready to come out of the closet and Kerri has been the object of her desire for over a decade.
The author handles the story line beautifully, delving into the emotional depths of awakening desire and the uncertainty of a friend confronted with a love she’s not sure she can accept or be a part of.
Cantero’s prose is fast-paced and engaging, switching from action to comedy to horror and back again with the ease of an old pro. Essentially, he’s created an adventure story for the kid inside all of us, but raised the blood, tension, and monsters to match our grown-up outsides.
It isn’t only his storytelling that’s innovative, however. The author fuses together different styles of writing from multiple points of view to keep the reader on their toes. One moment, we’re inside the head of Andy, and the next, he’s switched to script format to support the rapid-fire (and often hilarious) dialogue.
My favorite moments, however, come when Cantero takes us inside the mind of the group’s faithful dog, Tim. They are moments of purely innocent observation and contain, quite frankly, some of the best one-liners in the entire book.
In an odd way, the book was created specifically for the crowd who enjoyed the Scooby-Doo/Supernatural crossover that took place a few weeks ago, though it was written long before “Scoobynatural.”
Meddling Kids will be released in a brand new paperback edition on May 29, 2018. You can pre-order the new edition, which comes with a special bonus scene, on Amazon!