I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. I like them, it’s just usually I’m craving something really dark and spooky and most middle grade novels don’t delve into the dark depths that I like. There are exceptions, naturally, and you can always look up long lists of middle grade horror books on Goodreads. When I was searching I found that this book already belonged to a ton of cool shelves on Goodreads, like Top 100 Middle School Must-reads, which I find pretty impressive.
Last May I discovered a middle grade book called The House on Creep Street by the mysterious duo known as The Blood Brothers. The name caught my attention and after reading the first few pages I was hooked. You can see the review here. The House on Creep Street had everything that I wanted in a book. It was spooky, it was hilarious, the pacing and dialogue were fantastic. And when I finished I was left with a book hangover.
Imagine my excitement when I learned that The Blood Brothers are back!
First, here’s a little more about Beware the Monstrous Manther!
Beware the Monstrous Manther!
The Second Book in The Fright Friends Adventures Series!
There’s something fishy about Joey’s new neighbor – that old man named Carl White. Joey can’t help but notice his strange behavior… like those pet crates he carried into his house on the night he moved in, and those weird lights and noises coming from his basement window, and how he leaves his house late at night in his rusty old van.
But Joey’s weird new neighbor isn’t his only problem. A friend from his past named Glenn asks him for help after his dog goes missing. And then Kevin’s cat disappears. Soon, pets all over Blackwood are vanishing and Joey has more questions than answers. Like, what’s with Barry’s new cat, Midnight? The one that can go invisible and walk on the ceiling? And what’s with those sightings of a creature described as half-man/half-beast? Does Joey’s new neighbor have something to do with it?
Things start to get really hairy in Blackwood, and soon The Fright Friends’ curiosity is piqued. If they only knew curiosity killed the cat.
I think one of my favorite things about this book that I don’t find in other middle grade horror novels, are its blatant and perfectly timed nods to traditional horror books and movies.
Joey Tonelli yawned. He had seen this film—Big Blood 2:
Big Blood’s Revenge—at least twenty-seven times. He knew
exactly what was going to happen next, and yet he’d felt
compelled to watch it again, anyway. It was the best of the
Big Blood sequels. The most recent one, Big Blood 9: Big Blood
On the Moon, was by far the worst.
I laughed out loud when I read this because we all know how the horror series goes. #1 and #2 are usually the best movies, #3 and #4 usually are insane and bizarre and sometimes we like to pretend like they were never actually made, and anything after that is usually off its rocker. But it’s nods like this that make it fun for horror lovers of any age to read and giggle at.
I loved the pacing. They always do a good job of this. We’re only on page 6 of the novel when we’re already introduced to the issue that is going to set up the entire rest of the book…
The house had previously belonged to the Winslows, a
middle-aged couple who had moved out sometime in
November. A new occupant had moved in—an older man
who almost never showed his face—and Joey was flat-out
convinced he was up to something. Almost on a nightly basis
Joey had heard strange sounds coming from the house. And
on the night the man had first moved in, he had carried
twenty animal crates into the house. Joey had decided it was
suspicious enough to keep an eye out.
Right away my mind wandered and I could picture a shadowy figure moving about in the night, concealing secrets and doing suspect things. And as a reader, I need to know. What the hell is going on in that house? What is this old man doing? And if he’s doing something shady, what is it? Naturally, I feverishly read forward because I had to know.
The creep factor is perfect. They do a fantastic job creating a creepy atmosphere, and giving you just enough visual to let your mind wander and scare the crap out of you. Look, just look. I straight up pictured gleaming white pointy teeth snarled up in a smile in the night.
The old man struck a match and lit the pipe in his
mouth. As he puffed away, Joey suddenly had the terrifying
feeling that his creepy new neighbor was now watching
him—and then the old man smiled. Joey ducked down,
looking away from the window.
Oh no, Joey thought. Did he see me watching him?
After a long pause, he forced himself to look back out.
The porch was empty. The house was dark.
The old man was gone.
You know what this means…you’ve. been. caught. spying. Or at least that’s what I thought. I’m not going to reveal if I was right or wrong. YOU will have to figure that out for yourself when you read this.
They do a great job revealing things about characters AND setting without shoving it down your throat.
The cat licked its whiskers and carefully watched the old
man, ready to lunge from her spot should he abruptly leap
from his chair and grab at her. But he did not. He looked
tired, and his eyes began to slowly close. The open fireplace
crackled—its stench of burning wood and ash
overpowering—and its crisping sounds lulled the old man to
sleep. His breathing soon became steady and deep.
I don’t want to reveal too much but I have to say that The Blood Brothers have done it again.
They’ve written an intelligent, hilarious, thoughtful, spooky middle grade novel that reminds me of Goosebumps mixed with A Series of Unfortunate Events, sprinkled with Twin Peaks, Welcome to Nightvale, and Spooksville.
The characterization is perfect, the level of horror is not TOO scary for middle grade readers, the characters are fun, and the pacing and diction is perfection.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes a great story! I believe that adults and kids alike will enjoy this story and honestly, I think it would make a cool television show. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
I give Beware the Monstrous Manther! 5 out of 5 Giant Yetis.
About the Authors
Edgar and Allan Blood were both October-born and subsequently abandoned in the woods. After being raised by wolves, the brothers set out on a worldwide journey to find their fortune, until they were separated by a brutal snow- thunder-hurricane, which left them believing each other to be dead. They were reunited under the most amazing and unbelievable circumstances—but that’s another story. Together again, the brothers honed their literary skills through jobs writing obituaries and ransom notes. To tell them apart, remember: Edgar has an eye patch and Allan has a wooden leg—but sometimes it’s the other way around. When the Blood Brothers are not writing stories, they work as
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