Category Archives: Picador

#Mx3 Review: The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (October 7, 2014)
  • ISBN: 9781250057150
  • Source: Publisher

Nearly three years ago, ten-year-old Jack Peter Keenan nearly drowned in the ocean. As a result of this near-death incident, Jack Peter is deathly afraid to leave the safety of his home. Trips to the doctor are filled with stress and anguish; his parents must wrap him tightly in a blanket just to get him inside the car. With his activities limited due to his phobia, his only connection to the outside world is his one and only friend, Nick, also present at Jack Peter’s near-drowning.

Jack Peter spends most of his time drawing elaborate pictures of monsters. Soon, however, the pictures begin taking on lives of their own. His parents, Holly and Tim, begin having strange experiences. Tim sees a white apparition running down the street or across the dunes on the beach. Holly hears voices and other unexplainable sounds coming from the ocean.  Caught up in these experiences, they don’t realize that Jack Peter’s drawings are connected to what is happening around them. Only Nick understands the power of the drawings.  Jack Peter’s imagination is manifesting right before their eyes. When Jack’s parents are finally able to embrace the impact of their son’s power, it overwhelms them with heartbreaking, emotional clarity.

Keith Donohue is one of those authors whose work I follow obsessively. With each and every novel he produces, he never fails to overwhelm me with his brilliance. The Boy Who Drew Monsters may be my favorite of all. I’m not going to lie; this was a truly terrifying read.  It’s a psychological horror like none other, for the monsters that we attempt to contain within us are often more terrifying than those in the world around us.  We all remember our childhood and our fear of monsters. Our imaginations ran wild and rampant with thoughts of what lurked under the bed or in the closet. Often, we found that our imaginations went far beyond the believable and we were finally able to understand that nothing so terrifying could actual happen. Young Jack Peter didn’t share that same fate.

Additionally, the setting of this novel is wholly terrifying in itself. The ocean, just feet from their home, was the scene of a horrific shipwreck, bodies never recovered still lying at the ocean floor.

All of these characteristics together culminate into a truly outstanding piece of fiction. If you haven’t read any of Donohue’s work (!!) I do encourage you to start. I promise you won’t regret it. Highly, highly recommended.

Other books by Keith Donohue:

Angels of Destruction
Centuries of June
The Stolen Child



Frightful Friday: Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week.

This week’s featured title is Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa:

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (January 29, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0312674465
  • Source: Publisher

This title is comprised of eleven chilling, intertwining tales. The correlation between each isn’t obvious at first, relayed by a small detail or speck of information. The point of view of each tale is first person, the identity again not obvious until a specific characteristic is revealed. Additionally, overall names are not used, readers only able to differentiate from the characters by clues and the character’s specific characteristic is revealed. Ranging from a landlady who murders her husband, the surviving parent of a child killed due to suffocation after hiding in an abandoned refrigerator and a young cabaret singer with a unique heart condition, each of the vast range of characters differs vastly.

The title so beautifully wraps up the overall theme of each story: revenge. Each character seeks revenge for a different reason be it envy, jealousy, or spurned love. What makes each of these stories so eloquent is the sharp, crisp writing of Ogawa, a woman rewarded for her exceptional writing skills by receiving every major Japanese writing award.

The stores contained within Revenge are ghastly and dark, very reminiscent of that of Shirley Jackson. What makes each of them so chilling is how each of the dark acts portrayed in the story seems so normal, for most of the acts takes place off the page, the reader only learning about the acts second-hand. This leaves the actual act up to the imagination of the reader. Granted, I am an extensive reader of horror, but only a few of the stories did I find absolutely grotesque, the others much lighter and not nearly as dark as I expected. More importantly, I particularly enjoyed trying to interrelate and connect each oft he characters, creating quite an interesting looking character map.

Bottom line: readers with a weak stomach (or heart) shouldn’t turn away from reading this title based on the synopsis or blurbs on the cover. I dare say this title is enjoyable for it is a bit on the creepy side, but it is definitely attention-gaining and entertaining. Perfect to read on a chilly night…in the dark…curled up under a warm blanket. Highly recommended.