The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.

Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.

Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.

2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.

Advanced Praise for The Children on the Hill:

[A] stellar take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . . . McMahon keeps the reader wondering how much is real and how much is imagined. This is a must for psychological thriller fans.” Publishers Weekl(starred review)

“McMahon succeeds admirably in building real chills and a surprising twist, offering a satisfying addition to the Frankenstein-inspired oeuvre. Mary Shelley would give it two thumbs up.” Kirkus (starred review)

“This modern take on Frankenstein has a delicious twist at the end. This novel is an all-nighter!” —LibraryReads, “April 2022 Hall of Fame”

“In a tightrope’s walk of suspense, The Children on the Hill asks the reader to consider the precarious nature of memory and the definition of the word ‘monster.’” —WBUR ARTery, “Spring Books Guide”

“I always show up for Jennifer McMahon. Her storytelling is tried and true. I don’t want to miss her unique brand of suspense.” —LitReactor, “2022 Horror Your Do Not Want to Miss”

My Review:

Wow. Just wow. The Children on the Hill was an amazing read. Right off the bat it brought all kinds of The Haunting of Hill House and The Drowning Kind vibes. But it definitely brought more than just a touch of horror. Not only that, but the book was full of surprising twists and turns.

Dr. Helen Hildreth is a world renowned psychiatrist, so dedicated to her work that her home where she raises her grandchildren shares the estate with her mental hospital. Kind of creepy, right? Growing up next to psychos? But the kids don’t care. Vi and her little brother Eric are just like any other kids, playing games and having real and imagined adventures.

When their grandmother brings home their new “sister,” Iris, she’s different. But Vi is determined to make her fit in. She’s wanted a sister for so long. And as things go, turns out there are a lot of secrets. And Iris has been through a lot. And she’s not the only one…

I highly recommend The Children on the Hill. It’s got a little bit of everything and it’s an amazing book! Especially for any true crime podcast enthusiasts (I didn’t even mention that part!). Special thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out now.

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