by Edgar Cantero
Meddling Kids is the dark update on the Scooby Gang that we didn’t know we needed. Edgar Cantero can’t use the familiar names from our childhood Scooby Doo, but he can take the mystery solving kid detective concept and meld it with the horrors of dealing with your past/growing up.
Cantero’s mystery-horror-comedy takes place 13 years after the kid detectives caught their last monster-turned-bad-guy-in-a-mask. They’re not convinced the guy they caught when they were kids was the real culprit. And they’ve been haunted by what they saw and heard during that last investigation. Three surviving members of the original gang set back out to get to the bottom of it.
The gang not only have to fight the bad guys, they have to fight their inner demons, too. Cantero brings a show that was originally made in 1969 into the present times by confronting what so many 20 somethings all over the world are confronting: drug addiction, confused sexuality, mental illness, denied trauma, loss. Each of the characters has to reckon with their past and try to move on. The book takes you on that journey in a dark and twisted way.
This book will have you skeptical of almost everyone and, somehow, no one. It will have your heart pounding as the characters run from everything but a guy in a mask. You will get to know the characters in a deep way, much deeper than I think a typical horror/comedy lets you. You will root for some and judge others.
One of my favorite characters in the book is Sean, their dog sidekick (of course). Every description of the dog’s actions, thoughts, facial expressions, etc. is just comically perfect. I was consistently impressed at the emotional intelligence Cantero displayed while writing that character. I have to say that the book is otherwise, in my opinion, written in a distinctly male voice. It is hard to explain what I mean by that, but the way he writes is like a really articulate 12 year old telling you the best story he just made up. Which is kind of perfect for a story that gives you the grown up versions of everyone’s favorite 12 year olds.
What’s also cool about this book is just the type of monsters. They’re interesting and different. Because Kerri is a biologist, we get to hear a lot about the science behind the monsters. I loved that. The dark angle on it all is also a learning experience. If you ever wanted to learn about necromancy, that is!
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