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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Freaky pleasure...it scratches a nostalgic itch for those who grew up on Saturday morning Scooby-Doo cartoons and sugar-bombed breakfast cereal"
"Deliriously wild, funny and imaginative. Cantero is an original voice."
--Charles Yu, author of How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe
With raucous humor and brilliantly orchestrated mayhem, Meddling Kids subverts teen detective archetypes like the Hardy Boys, the Famous Five, and Scooby-Doo, and delivers an exuberant and wickedly entertaining celebration of horror, love, friendship, and many-tentacled, interdimensional demon spawn.
SUMMER 1977. The Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in Oregon’s Zoinx River Valley) solved their final mystery and unmasked the elusive Sleepy Lake monster—another low-life fortune hunter trying to get his dirty hands on the legendary riches hidden in Deboën Mansion. And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.
1990. The former detectives have grown up and apart, each haunted by disturbing memories of their final night in the old haunted house. There are too many strange, half-remembered encounters and events that cannot be dismissed or explained away by a guy in a mask. And Andy, the once intrepid tomboy now wanted in two states, is tired of running from her demons. She needs answers. To find them she will need Kerri, the one-time kid genius and budding biologist, now drinking her ghosts away in New York with Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the club. They will also have to get Nate, the horror nerd currently residing in an asylum in Arkham, Massachusetts. Luckily Nate has not lost contact with Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star who was once their team leader . . . which is remarkable, considering Peter has been dead for years.
The time has come to get the team back together, face their fears, and find out what actually happened all those years ago at Sleepy Lake. It’s their only chance to end the nightmares and, perhaps, save the world.
A nostalgic and subversive trip rife with sly nods to H. P. Lovecraft and pop culture, Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a strikingly original and dazzling reminder of the fun and adventure we can discover at the heart of our favorite stories, no matter how old we get.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It starts when you pull the lamp chain and light doesn’t come. Then you know you will never wake up in time, you will not make it to the end of this paragraph alive. Desperate reassuring thoughts try to rise over the panic in your head: it’s okay, you don’t need lights, you are practically awake already. You are lying on your bed, you can guess the familiar shape of the side lamp in the morning twilight and hear the old radiator clunking in the night; you are safe. It’s just that the lamp doesn’t work. But you want it to work; you need to dispel the darkness and let certainty outline the room so the things outside know you’re awake and won’t dare enter, and you pull the chain again and again, and you recall the lamp switch has failed before (has it?), and look, the lightbulb really is trying, though it barely manages to seep a wan glow, and it’s not enough to flash the room out of the shadows, but who needs more, the lamp says, you’re here, this is your room, I am your lamp, that’s your radiator going clunk in the night, that’s the same old closed door beyond which things might lurk and breathe skinless and eyeless, but you can rest, we promise we don’t exist really, lie down. Or are you lying down? Because you think you’re up on your elbows, but your arms aren’t feeling the weight now that you focus on them; in fact, your eyeballs are not moving, and then you try to say “hey” but your throat isn’t responding either, so you cling to the sheets (Do you? Are your fingernails truly scratching the linen?) and you struggle to emit a sound, make your vocal cords vibrate, push some air through your windpipe, just feel your fucking windpipe, for God’s sake, shout and wake up the slumbering blob that is you on your bed, sleeping, dreaming, at the mercy of drooling things outside the closed door, and you pull pull pull pull pull the chain and the lamp insists, I can’t, it’s a technical fault, but I promise you you’re awake, look at me, I’m your good old lamp, I’ve never lied to you, the chain has failed before, you know this, you should install a real switch you can snap on and off, and that’s when you realize your bedside lamp never had a chain. Furthermore, there’s no radiator in the room that can go clunk. It’s their footsteps (clunk), and the door is already open—try to shout—they’re in your room—try to shout—they’re creeping up your bed (clunk), stretching toward you (clunk), squamous ice-cold webbed fingers aiming for your spine—try to SHOUT!
Excerpted from "Meddling Kids"
Copyright © 2018 Edgar Cantero.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
1. The opening of the book sees the members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club (BSDC) as adults, and reveals their childhood stories in non-linear episodes. Did you find that this technique created suspense and mystery? How else does Cantero build tension throughout the book?
2. What did you make of BSDC’s choice to go back to Blyton Hills and return to the Deboën Mansion? Would you have made the same decision?
3. For years, Nate has been plagued by hallucinations of the deceased Peter. However, Peter has a real impact on Nate’s choices and actions. How reliable do you consider Nate’s interactions with Peter to be? Are they a figment of imagination or is Peter still an active member of the group?
4. The narrator in Meddling Kids has a very distinct voice and personality. Did you find yourself connecting with the voice? What did the narrative voice add to your reading experience?
5. Meddling Kids draws on archetypes from The Hardy Boys, The Famous Five, and Scooby-Doo—how did your knowledge of characters from those works inform your reading of the novel?
6. The supernatural plot in the book borrows heavily from cosmic horror, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Cthulhu Mythos. How much of those inspirations can you recognize in the scenarios, the props, even the supporting characters in Meddling Kids?
7. Which member of the BSDC do you identify most with? Why?
8. The character of Dunia Deboën, even after the final revelations, is shrouded in mystery: by the end, we know tidbits from her past, but nothing about her true origins--and her future is left open as well. Do you like this ambiguity? Do you think it's intentional?
9. Were you surprised by the ending of Meddling Kids? If so, what did you expect to happen?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nicely done homage to everyone's favorite mystery solving crew with the perfect hint of Lovecraft to spice it up.
This was a really good book, I would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Cthulhu or Scooby doo
This story reads like an adult spin on the old Scooby-Doo mysteries. Only we visit our heroes over a decade later dealing with the mental and spiritual repercussions of their last case as a teenage detective club. Lots of asides to both Lovecraft, Scooby-Doo, and others. My only gripe is that the proof reader missed a couple things that can break the suspension of disbelief. In all this book is worth every penny.
Best book I read all year!
***This book was reviewed for Random House/Doubleday via Edelweiss Cantero's Meddling Kids was such a fun book! It's a cheeky parody drawing on reminiscences of childhood classics like Scooby-Doo and The Three Investigators, with helpings of Lovecraft, King, and others added to taste. I could see echoes of 80s action shows peeking through as well. Many references are glaringly obvious. Others are more cleverly hidden, and I loved figuring them out. It's the late 70s. A group of friends banded together in the small township of Blyton Hills spend their vacation time solving petty crimes. There's Peter, leader of the group. Nate the creative. Andrea (call me Andy), the tomboy fighter. And lastly, there is Kerri, the researcher, with her dog Sean. Their adventures end well, til one fateful summer. They may have caught the masked man pretending to be a lake monster so he could find buried treasure, but the night they spent on Deboën Isle changed them. Shaped them in ways they could never imagine. Fastforward to the 90s as these kids are now adults. They've drifted apart, each haunted in ways they can't describe. One is in a mental institution, one a wanderer, one stuck in dead-end jobs. One is dead. Suicide. Those remaining suffer from hallucinations, nightmares, and more, and it's all linked back to that one fateful night. In despair, yet feeling it the right move, Andrea collects Kerri and Nate so they can return to Blyton and conquer their demons. What they find is beyond all reckoning. Cantero is a master storyweaver. I could feel the melancholy nostalgia when the group first saw Blyton with the jaded eyes of adulthood; saw the changes time had wrought. It pulled me under, drawing me deeper into the story. And I cannot rave enough about the clever use of dialogue tags. This medley of tags flowed easily, adding to the humour. Usually the use of such diverse dialogue tags comes across as clunky and clumsy. It takes true talent to make it work well. Add to that the smooth shifting of styles, from storytelling to play script and back again. Seeded within, and supported, are themes of bisexuality, and notions of what love can truly be. I love that this is in here, it's part of the story, but it's not the main part. I never felt overwhelmed or bludgeoned by it. It's simply how these people were. Being the philosopher and metaphysicist that I am, I quite enjoyed the alchemy aspects, the notion of spirit and how it might function, and the Lovecraft influence. Highly Recommended. For all those out there who grew up with Scooby-Doo, Three Investigators, Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. For those who enjoy HP Lovecraft and Stephen King. For those who appreciate parody of treasured memories, this book is for you.
This was a very interesting premise for a book with the characters and the cover constantly reminding me of the cartoon show, Scooby Doo. I remember watching Scooby Doo on Saturday mornings growing up and immediately requested the book. That being said I found this book very humorous on several fronts. The story was filled with comments from the dog (Tim is pretty hilarious, I know he would say for himself) as well as inanimate objects which made me crack a smile and at times, laugh out loud. For the most part, this book was a pretty good read, however, after a while I kind of got over the premise and found the story grating. I did finish the book and like I said, for the most part I found it entertaining. I think it had a good premise, however it being sometimes hokey and very cheesy, but there is only so much cheese I can take. Thanks to Doubleday Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
I enjoyed it