Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lisa's Review: The Monsters of Templeton

One dark summer dawn, at the exact moment that an enormous monster dies in Lake Glimmerglass, twenty-eight-year-old Willie Upton returns pregnant and miserable to her hometown of Templeton, N.Y. Willie is a descendant of the creator of the town, Marmaduke Temple, and she expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for centuries. But the monster changes the fabric of the village and Willie's mother, Vivienne, has a surprise for the girl that will send Willie careening through her family's history to dig up clues about her heritage. Spanning two centuries, the story is told through a panoply of voices, from Templeton ghosts to residents, masters to servants, natives to interlopers, and historical figures to literary characters. ~ Source:

I received The Monsters of Templeton from Barnes & Noble as part of their First Look Book Club program. This was the first selection. As I write, I am still not sure how I will rate this book. It took me a couple of weeks to read this one – now I was preoccupied with some work stuff but this book never really drew me in enough to make me forget about what was going on in my life. That’s never good. Secondly, this is a book about genealogy. I remember sitting at my grandfather’s knee, eyes glazed over, mind wandering as he told me all about my family tree. I believe the genealogy element of the book had the same effect on me at times. It was in fact interesting, Willie’s search for her father (I knew who he was the moment I met him, but I kept forgetting that I knew that – a mark of good writing I suppose). I enjoyed how the major players from the past rose up to tell their stories in their own voices, however, it was still confusing trying to keep track of all those people. That is probably why I will always live in mortal fear of marrying my cousin.

Lauren Groff did a good job of working the stories of the past and the present together in the same narrative. There is a slight supernatural element (a monster in the lake) that I am never fully sure why it was there, even after it told its story in the epilogue. It was a bit contrived having the “house ghost” help her find the last clue (a really good clue though). A bit of a cop-out I thought. Truthfully there were way too many times that I felt like I was in a college English Lit class and failing miserably. Yeah I’m getting the feeling I didn’t like it, which is sad, because I read Stephen King’s article about it in Entertainment Weekly and I was looking forward to it, not to mention ecstatic when I was able to get it early. Let’s all blame my preoccupation with work stuff – Agreed?

Monsters is due for release in February 2008.

Final Take: 2.9/5


Jenn October 16, 2007 at 7:15 PM  

I love the cover art for this book (sort of reminds me of Edward Gorey) and have been awaiting your review, Lisa.

I'm disappointed that it didn't live up to the buzz. I was looking forward to it... :(

jeannine October 28, 2007 at 8:28 PM  

I am disappointed by the superficiality of the comments posted. It is clear that, as a group, you have little aesthestic appreciation for classic American literature or anything beyond mall mentality. As you know, it is extremely easy to write and post a negative review. Please, explain or post exactly what you have written to make you - each of you - such an expert to be able write a negative review about anything. My guess is that all of you are unsuccessful wannabees. Do you have professional careers? My background includes professional publications, career teaching, and working as a health provider, yet I would flinch at harming the creative spirit of an emerging writer. Am I to expect each of more accomplished than me? Somehow, I doubt this is the case. What I suspect is a mixture of envy and generic bitchiness. Shame on you!

Julie October 29, 2007 at 9:14 AM  

I'm sorry but I didn't think we said we were experts in anyway shape or form. We just like to read and our reviews are our thoughts on the books.

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