(If you’re unfamiliar with my book reviews, then check out my review of Mary the Summoning here you’ve been warned.)
(Disclaimer: the success of a writer is wholly dependent on the internet critic prognosticating about said writer, and has remotely nothing to do with the talent, work ethic, long hours, determination, years spent honing their craft, or intelligence of the writer. Obviously.)
I supported Hillary Monahan from the moment Mary the Summoning hit shelves. While all other YA horror kept walking itself off a cliff from either outright stupidity, heavy-handed editing, or with cartoon anvils, Mary bestrode the genre like a colossus by being a breathless, inventive, horror romp that I quite loved. Other critics (who’s utter lack of humanity I’ll refrain from commenting on) turned up their noses at the fun, I was certain (and even more sure now) that Monahan was to be a force to be reckoned with.
Now that The Awesome has released, everyone else is seeing that I was correct all along and I get to wear my jaunty “Most Correct Critic On The Internet” crown, thereby justifying all of my opinions for all time.
Sigh. Whatever, we’re running with it.
Mary Unleashed the Power of Her Coffeemaker to Brew a Perfect Cup of Folgers Decaf is absolutely everything I want from a horror novel, and, even more importantly, a horror sequel. The characters all shine, the scares are grand, there are some genuine feels, with a lovely mix of anxiety and atmosphere to top it all off. While the first book was petal-to-the-metal intense, this book is much more meditative and deliberate while still delivering the same intensity.
Ms. Gets-*$&%-Done, Shauna, is back and showing horror protagonists how’s it done again. The first hundred pages or so focus on the fallout and trauma of the first book as she and Kitty try to find their way onward. Folks, I can’t tell you how much I loved this part. While other horror sequels unthinkingly repeat the first work ad nausea, the opening here gives a greater weight to the first book and makes those events have meaning outside of mere survival. This is something I’ve always wanted to see in a horror sequel, and Monahan delivers a nine-course meal here.
And this is why I love Monahan’s work so much. There’s no WASP-y problems here. No sterile ‘oh waaah, I’m so stressed from trying to get into Julliard and my parents feel so distant because they want the best for my future and insist I earn it.’ Monahan writes with grit and searing honesty about single motherhood and poverty, and this grit creates one of the best scenes I’ve read in YA horror, where Shauna opens up and tells her mother about Mary haunting her. It was magnificent and heartbreaking in all the right ways. More of this, bloody please.
Mary Unleashed the Internet to Discover Better Coffee Brands digs deeper into the reasons why Mary does the things she does and the girl’s trail leads them to the town of Solomon’s Folly, where Mary is only a part of a much larger weirdness. There’s a palpable sense of the world expanding, one that makes me think we can expect more urban myth horror from Monahan. If I’m correct in that guess, then this book gives me something I didn’t know I wanted, a monomyth for the American urban legends.
The mystery is revealed through letters, where Monahan finally, finally, finally gets a chance to show off her voice. Each letter adds to the growing eeriness and mystery, and climaxes with the whole ugly truth of what happened to Mary. I’m not big on historical horror, or historical fiction in general, but book left me in quite the mood for some more on that front. While there are many other books that collapse under less, Mary Unleashed Her Perfect Credit Score to Get A Visa Card blends all the desperate elements together into a seamless whole.
I’m one of the hardest readers to please when it comes to my fav genre, and this second volume is pretty much everything I want. My only complaint is two bits (literally, bits) should’ve been shown instead of told, but since this is for the younger end of YA, the fridge horror more than makes up for it.
As it stands now, this book is a contender for my book of the year; a year that saw the debut of Courtney Alameda and Whitney Miller’s second book (with even more horror goodness on the horizon). Mary Unleashed Berry The Fruiting All Over the Cashier When She Denied Mary’s Credit Card And Refused To Swipe it Again When Mary Tried Buying a Keurig And After All the Effort She Put Into Getting Tarted Up And Going Out In Public Only For This Heifer To Be A Passive-Aggrasive Slattern? Hell No is a damn fine horror novel that builds on, and then surpasses the first.
I said in my The Awesome review that I fully expected Monahan to be the go-to gal in YA horror, and I believe this book is the first step toward that. Pre-order it now.