Book Reviews

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (2017) Review

“Flying monkeys exist in literature, Nate. Horror writers who get laid exist in literature.”

If you ever wondered what happened to Mystery Inc. after college, this novel sums it up perfectly with addiction problems, Planet Terror antics, and local legends that turn out to be terrifyingly true. 

The Blyton Summer Detective Club consisted of bright and brave Kerri, Andrea (call her Andy), Nate, Peter, and Sean- the faithful furbaby of a dog. After solving their last mystery of the summer and of their youth, they go their separate ways into adulthood and unbeknownst to them, will eventually have to reconnect in order to truly comprehend the events of that night at Sleepy Lake.

The book reads like a reunion episode and the expectations that come with reunions are pretty cliche; the friends are reluctant and expect nothing to come of it, something life changing happens, and they’re closer at the end. Meddling Kids follows this formula to an extent but there are enough missteps and off-guard happenings that slightly interfere to cause is to be an imperfect replication. It also comes off as a comic, as it is crammed packed with as much meticulous, play-by-play action sequences as possible, warranting a slow and even spoken aloud read for those sections. Admittedly, it deserves it. It’s wildly entertaining and if you have any ounce of imagination within your lobes, you can make the ass-kicking and survival struggles come to life. The action and suspense isn’t even half of it though.

The language of the characters is natural, albeit a little Rodriguez at times (which isn’t a bad thing to fans). The development of the relationships between the “detectives” is enticing enough to readers that the story line could go by the wayside from time to time; Kerri and Andy “come full circle” and Nate and Peter finally resolve their unique “issues” and it was satisfying to witness that as an outsider. Nate was the standout character and not just for his peculiar affliction; his cynicism keeps the team grounded and the reader laughing. And Tim, the valiant dog member of the team, was brilliantly written and his descriptors were outright, laugh out loud hilarious. A dog, you say? Yes- this dog has more personality than you. An adaptation of the book would honestly make a fun TV show, almost Twin Peaks like, as there’s no shortage of unorthodox characters to encounter.

Speaking of descriptions, Cantero has about 5,000 to spare. His figures of speech were exceedingly distinct and a sincere enjoyment to read and gnaw upon. They were wonderfully weird and they weren’t purposeful; they flowed off the mental tongue as if you had made them up yourself. He thought far beyond the box, and anything resembling a box, to make this world of Meddling Kids and the narration of it completely his own, even with the heavy Lovecraftian-Leviathan eternal damnation apocalyptic humanity wipe-out trope.

At times, the plot felt like it was getting a bit too rushed or a bit too slow, or that it was going down a direction that was conveniently pointed out by a conveniently remembered piece of information. There were also moments the entire journey felt absolutely ridiculous and it was; the monsters, the twists, the “who-done-its?”, and MORE twists lived up to the Scooby Doo vibe of it all and that’s what made it such a fun frenzy of eeriness, deadpan humor, and the utmost horrifying reality of becoming an adult in order to settle the scores you ran from in your youth.

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