So I have been reading a lot of science fiction of late, and wanted to shake it up a bit, and find something a little bit more from the horror/thriller genre, and a top horror novels of 2021 list returned the Young Adult (I hate that term) novel, The Mary Shelley Club. Well I put my library card to good use, and devoured this engaging tale voraciously.
Rachel Chavez is recovering from a trauma she experienced one year ago, a violent home invasion that ended badly. Now she and her mother have relocated to Manhattan, where she attends a prep school that she can only attend because her mother teaches there. It’s rich kids school, and there’s no way she’s going to fit in.
With only one friend to her name, Rachel attempts to deal with her trauma by soaking up horror films. She knows them backwards and forwards, has her likes, and dislikes, knows the tropes, and the stereotypes.
So when she learns of a horror club in the school, the Mary Shelley Club, she knows she has to be involved. She finds, what she thinks, are a bunch of like minded individuals who share her love for a good scare, and is intrigued by the idea of their fear tests; they take a horror trope, pick a target from the student body, and execute it. Each person gets a shot at a fear tactic, and the most successful one is declared the winner.
But the games get dangerous, and deadly, and there may be something more going on here than Rachel first thought, and she may have to confront her fears face to face before she can truly let go of her trauma.
This is a highly enjoyable, page-turning, horror film loving escapade that was exactly what I wanted it to be. Moldavsky knows the tropes as well as her heroine, and knows how to keep the reader hooked. Brewed up with some high school melodrama, there are shades of Scream, and Heathers at work here that make this one a must read for horror junkies, as well those young adult readers who are looking for something edgier, while being able to relate to the characters in the story.
There are moments throughout that had me laughing, recognizing films the same way the characters did, and then being completely chilled to learn some terrifying revelation. The story works wonderfully, and embraces its genre, not shying away from it, or its subject matter, and in fact, getting right in there, and having all kinds of fun with it.
This was a great read, and honestly, just what I needed… I’m gonna have to hunt down her other novel, Kill the Boy Band.