Small Town Monsters
reviewed by Fiona Cook
Roaring Creek, a perfect example of small-town America, has seen more than its fair share of tragedy. But now things seem even more wrong than usual; there’s a brand new self-help group in town, and something’s just not quite right about their followers.
Vera Martinez is the school – and town – outcast, deemed spooky and ghoulish thanks to parents who work for the Vatican investigating possession. Maxwell Oliver never had a problem fitting in; but it’s only Vera he can think to turn to when his mother starts sleepwalking and whispering in the night. The two of them are going to have to save the town from the insidious threat that no-one else seems to have noticed.
This was a really good book, the kind of book that feels short because of how fast it pulls you through its story. Vera and Max are distinct and truly likeable characters, and though it’s aimed at teens, the message Small Town Monsters offers is one any reader can appreciate.
While Max’s journey is one of realizing his own missteps, it was Vera that I truly found myself getting attached to. A secret reader, she’s a caring girl that never fails to put others before herself, despite the fact that she’s generally shunned by Roaring Creek inhabitants. When Max reaches out for help, despite her wariness she’s ready to do whatever she can do to support the boy who ignored her until now – when the town itself comes under threat, she steps in again.
If you look no further than the surface, you’ll still get one incredibly entertaining horror experience from Small Town Monsters. Consider the story a little more deeply, though, and this book has a lot to say on grief, acceptance, and the ease with which nihilism can replace truly working through the rough patches on a scale both large and small. Diana Rodriguez Wallach has written a book well worth the time, and I’ll be looking for more from her.