Zoinks! It's Cthulhu!: A Review of Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
Are you a fan of Lovecraft? Did you enjoy Scooby-Doo in your youth? Do you still enjoy Scooby-Doo? Have you ever wished the two could be combined? Well, do I have a book for you!
Hello and welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life, Book Nerds! My name is Hannah, and today I bring you the monster story to end all monster stories. Today I bring you another review from your Spooky Season required reading list. Today I bring you Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.
I forgot how much I enjoyed this book. It was just as thrilling and humorous the second time around as it was the first. To be honest, I’m sure that is helped by the fact that it has been a few years since I first read it, but nonetheless, this is a funny book that I greatly enjoyed. Let me tell ya a little bit about it.
As always, a spoiler alert is in order. A content/trigger warning is also necessary. Please be aware that Meddling Kids has mentions of drug abuse and suicide that are prevalent to the story. There are also some minor homophobic remarks made throughout the book by some side characters. Neither of these topics will be brought up in this review though. Now, onto the synopsis.
Meet Andy, Kerri, Peter, Nate, and Tim: the Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club. In 1977 the four teens and their dog solved the mystery of the Sleepy Lake Monster that was causing absolute havoc in Blyton Hills. Turns out the monster was just a man in a mask, but things never sat right with the teen detectives once the case was seemingly closed.
Flashforward to 1990, the Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club members have scattered to the wind. The Sleepy Lake Monster was the last case the squad solved together before turning their backs on one another. But when the man they put away 13-years ago makes parole, Andy ambushes him and manages to confirm that the wrong person was sentenced all those years ago.
It’s up to her to get the gang back together, and figure out what actually happened back then. One thing is for certain, the actual culprit is not a man in a mask. The mystery that follows is filled with alchemy, magic, ancient gods, and is a creature feature for the ages. Oh, and there’s a ten-out-of-ten good boy. I mentioned him already, but I gotta mention Tim again.
Tim is the best part of this book. He’s smart, loyal, athletic, loves a good squeaky toy, and will fight an army of monsters to protect you. Again, a ten-out-of-ten good boy. I love him; I would die for him. Honestly, he’s my favorite part of the book, and there is a lot to love in this one.
Let me start with the characters. I’ve already mentioned Tim AKA this book’s Scooby-Doo, but let’s talk about the other members of the Blyton Hills Summer Detective Club real quick. Now, you don’t need me to tell you this because you’ve probably already guessed, but I’m going to say it anyway. The characters in this book have a Scooby-Doo counterpart. Well…sort of.
Edgar Cantero includes personality traits of each member of the Scooby Gang into the main characters of his book. I remember the first time I read Meddling Kids, I tried to shoehorn the characters into a singular Scooby-Doo counterpart before realizing what Cantero was doing. It was enjoyable seeing all the characters have the smarts like Velma, leadership qualities like Fred, and the fear Shaggy embodies. They’re all fleshed out, and can each contribute to solving the mystery both in unique ways and just by doing some general help. No one is simply running around with a monster hot on their tail and not actually contributing to mystery solving.
Although, if I have to give them all a specific counterpart, Andy is Fred, Kerri is Daphne and Velma, and Nate is Shaggy. Just remember, this is adult Scooby-Doo so everyone swears, drinks, and also Andy and Kerri are lesbians.
Yes, Meddling Kids has biracial lesbian representation. We love to see it. Although, I do have to admit that it is sometimes a questionable relationship. In my opinion, Kerri can be a toxic person at times. She just has this vibe about her, I don’t really know how to explain it well, she simply doesn’t pass the vibe check all the time. She makes some offhanded comments that can be taken the wrong way. Love the representation, but the romance itself could be better.
But I didn’t pick this book up for the romance subplot. I came here for Lovecraftian Scooby-Doo. Cthulhu might as well move over, because I only know Thtaggoa. Sorry, minor spoilers there. But if you pick up this book, you should prepare for the apocalypse that is about to be brought on by ancient gods who have long been in slumber.
Now that’s pretty much all the backstory readers get on this ancient god. The monster lore is still shrouded in mystery by the end of the book. There is no major exposition dump on the monster. The human villain has a long villain monologue that I appreciate, but nothing much on the monsters is learned. I sorta know what Thtaggoa looks like, but I don’t know why it wants to bring forth the apocalypse. I guess ancient gods don’t entirely need a reason. But saying the god’s story and reasoning is written in a long dead language that no one fully understands does not cut it for me. Kinda feels a little lazy in my opinion.
And one thing a reader cannot be when reading this book is lazy. Despite not having much monster lore, Cantero keeps his readers on their toes. Every ounce of this mystery is intriguing, every clue can lead twenty different ways, every place our squad investigates could possibly lead to death and danger. Some of the situations this group gets put in truly caused me anxiety. I felt like I was on the dangerous adventure too; thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about my safety because I was in the comfort of my blanket cocoon.
Now listen, it’s not just the twisty mystery that keeps readers on their toes. Nay, nay. Edgar Cantero greatly enjoys switching the point of view. The first page is written in second person POV before it switches to third person where it then jumps focus between Nate, Kerri, and Andy. Things can get confusing extremely quickly if you’re only half paying attention. Not a book to read if you’re like me and take sleep aid and then decide to read before bed.
Meddling Kids is not a hard book to follow though, and if you’re paying attention you’ll know who the POV character is when a switch occurs. Nothing about this story is something that needs over-explained or should make a reader unsure about what is happening. But if your mind wanders for just a moment, you can get lost. A little note of who the POV character is before the shift would have been a nice benefit to this book.
Now, something that is not a benefit to Meddling Kids in any way is Cantero’s need to randomly shift into a screenwriting style. Much like the POV shifts, there were many moments throughout the book where instead of continuing in the traditional novel format that 90% of the book is written in, the story continues as if it was a screenplay. This is wholly unnecessary.
Switching between the three main characters’ POV makes sense. This is a book where each character is learning important pieces of information relating to the mystery; often times when said character is alone. It’s also important to know what exactly is running through each of their minds throughout the course of the novel. I’m totally fine with the POV switches; they work in this book’s favor. I’m not a fan of the screenplay snippets. They add nothing, and they feel far too random.
Listen, this book is truly enjoyable. It’s a fun ride, it’s a good monster mystery. The minion creatures that I didn’t even talk about are a good side issue the characters have to deal with throughout the majority of the text. But this book has its faults. That’s okay though, I’m glad I have this one of my shelves. Meddling Kids is the adult Scooby-Doo the world deserves!
With that, I must bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with another post to get you in the Spooky Season spirit. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.