The Children on the Hill” by Jennifer McMahon

Review by Yvonne Selander, collection development librarian

Jennifer McMahon does it again. The slow build from unnerving to creepy to horror with the undercurrent of psychological thriller running through the entire novel.

Vi and Eric live with their grandmother – she’s wonderful to them and always makes time for her grandchildren, even when her work as the head of the mental institution next door is challenging. One day Gran, as Vi and Eric call her, brings Iris over to stay. Iris is shy and a little different but she’s counting on her grandchildren to help her feel welcome and break out of her shell. 

Decades later Lizzy Shelley returns to Brattleboro, Vt., for her podcast Monsters Among Us. She changed her name to separate herself from the scandal but when a girl is reported to have been abducted by a monster she knows she has to return home because sometimes the monsters are terrifyingly real. Sometimes, they are your own sister.

This is a wonderful homage to “Frankenstein” with twists and turns before the shocking ending. I’m sure you remember the story and the questions it asks: who was the monster? The creature the doctor made or its creator?