When I was a kid I loved reading the Hardy Boys (I could knock out a book in a day – which to me at the time was amazing, and I loved those little blue hardcover books). Between ages 11 and 12, I danced around the edges of things that could be interpreted as scary, I was intrigued and frightened by how they stirred my imagination, and I came across a series of books in my school library called Alfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators.
In my late 20s, I discovered the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and was suitably creeped out by the Cthulu mythos, and some of the other stories, and creatures that lurked within those pages.
Through it all, even to this day, there’s a love of Scooby-Doo.
Imagine finding a book that seems to wrap all of those things up in one book, one that is claimed to be delightfully a scary, witty, and fun story wrapped up in a pop culture dream.
In 1977, a group of young teens, two girls, two boys, and their dog, solved crimes that seemed to inevitably ended up being a swindler or crook in a monster mask. But their last case has haunted them, and now thirteen years later, the surviving members, Andy, Kerri, her cousin Nate, and the dog’s grandson, Tim head back to a remote town, just near the Zoinx river, and find themselves in a truly terrifying mystery that puts them in an occult nightmare, which may help raise an undergod.
Cantero has a great storytelling manner, there’s a meta level to some of the story, blatant and subtle nods to beloved pop culture items, but never at the cost of the narrative and its momentum.
The story rushes headfirst towards its frightening and bloody climax, alternating between horror and comedic beats as we recognize situations (and so do the characters), and their are twists, turns, and ultimate revelations with the possibility of a long ancient terror rising from the deep.
There are haunted houses, secret passages, chases, mine carts. If you’ve seen it in a Scooby-Doo episode, recall the concept from the Hardy Boys, cowered from Lovecraftian creatures, you’ll love this one.
Cantero’s story is so much fun, marrying the nostalgia of things beloved from youth, and interpreted, shaken and stirred into something recognizable, but all new.
It plays with the tropes we all know and love, characters we grew up with, and pop culture references that resonate. The book is a joy. It’s fun, scary, and a wonderfully enjoyable read.
Check it out!
I enjoyed it so much, that when I saw another of his books on another horror list – one for haunted houses – Meddling Kids was on scary horror novels, I made sure to hunt down a copy immediately, and it will be next up on The Book Shelf!