Tag Archive: Meddling Kids


Fall Into Books 9/13

FIB-Cover-Love

I don’t have a good intro to this one, so let’s just jump into it. What are some book covers I really enjoy? Let’s do a top five, plus one for a book I’m really excited for. These aren’t in any particular order save for that extra one.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones cover

One of the big things I dig about the cover for Down Among the Sticks and Bones is the combination of the chest that Jack and Jill enter the Moors through and the Moors itself. Everything is very grey and stony except for the light coming from the chest, from the other side of the door. It says a lot about the world we’re going to.

your-favorite-band-cannot-save-you-cover

I don’t have a real reason for this one. Just something about the lighting and colors and just that little bit of wrong in the face. I like the bit of other worldliness it has.

Issue 1 What Dreams May Come pt 1. cover

This one might be cheating a little, since this is for a comic issue rather than a full on book. But it still gets a place here because I want a poster of this to go over my entertainment center. Special note to the ghosts in the margins, especially the one losing her head in the corner.

Meddling Kids cover

Look what’s showing up again! Seriously though, the cover gets me because it feels very like the title card for one of the old Scooby Doo shows. It’s very shaped like itself, with excellent use of the limited pallet and the use of the moon as a frame for the title detectives. It’s just really nifty.

Weavers Folly cover

Full disclosure, this one is entirely because of the wild hair and glowing tattoo. The color and lighting are dynamic. I like the way Lysistrata is cast in shadow. But the rock star vibe to it is what wins me over.

And, lastly but not leastly, number six for the book that hasn’t come out yet.

Kingdom of Needle and Bone

The sketchy quality on this is fantastic. The cells in the background, the needle full of what looks like blood, and the shift from flesh and bone to skull, all of those are good. But the contemplation on the flesh half of her face makes it for me. I was ready to ask to review this book before I noticed the author’s name or read the blurb just based on the impact of the cover.

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Fall Into Books 9/11

FIB-bookish-quote

I don’t know if this is what was meant by “bookish” quote, since it isn’t literary at all. But it’s from one of my absolute favorite parts of Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids.

“It stayed closed for the quantum time length before Andy swung it open again, but in that unnamable lapse everything beyond the door was gone. Struggling shapes and screams. Light and sound. Kerri and Andy and Tim found themselves peering into a flat black rectangle of darkness and interplanetary silence,

‘FUCK THIS,’ Andy spat at the intended end of the chapter, pulling out the flare gun from her pocket and shooting into the dark.”

That second bit, that space where Andy reacts so hard it alters the intended flow of the novel, exemplifies the sort of meta things that Cantero did with Meddling Kids that made me enjoy it as much as I did. I laughed so hard that I scared my cat. I reread it two or three times because it was just such a thing I’m not used to in novels but it works so, so well here.

 

Later than I’d planned for, but this is one that I’ve been looking forward to finishing. It’s been a book that I’d been meaning to read since before its release but didn’t get the chance to really dig into until this week. Here’s Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids. Enjoy!

Meddling Kids cover

Back in 1977 the kids of the Blyton Summer Detective Club had their last big case, some guy in a mask was hunting around in a supposed haunted house and the Blyton Summer Detective Club decided to stop him. They succeeded, really, they did. But maybe they saw a little more than they were meant to. A lot more than they were meant to. They solved the case, but what they saw broke them a little and they went their separate ways. The tomboy, wanted in two states. The brain, turned biologist, turned alcoholic. The golden boy, a star on film and in person, burned out before his time. The horror geek who turned himself over to an asylum, the only one who still talks to the golden boy even if he wishes he didn’t.  But the case wasn’t finished, not by a long shot. And that’s going to drag them back to the town where summer lived. The Blyton Hills, where their last big case was never fully solved, where everything went wrong, where just maybe they can put it back together again and put the past to rest. Put the past to rest and maybe save the world while they’re at it.

Edgar Cantero’s Meddling Kids is a deeply interesting beast of a book combining a number of takes on its own prose and some distinctly strange ideas that I want to see more of. This is, from title to composition to set up a fond reflection of those other meddling kids and their Great Dane. It isn’t a one to one thing, certainly, but the familiarity from that reflection allows for a certain degree of comfort with the less Saturday morning cartoon aspects. Lovecraftian strangeness and all that.

That’s actually a really good starting point here, Meddling Kids is sort of Lovecraft by way of Scooby Doo. It’s a lot softer than most of the Lovecraft based stuff I’ve read, more comedy than pure horror. But it plays with the wrongnesses worked into the fabric of reality that make up the horror of a lot of that sort of style of horror deals with. The writing will sort of break from standard prose into stage directions and lines and then snap back, characters interact with the narrative in non-standard ways. Kerrie, the resident brain, has hair that’s almost a character of its own. It reacts to things and has feelings, and somehow that’s done frankly enough in the writing to work. Similarly Tim, the Weimaraner, is given a ton of human reactions and is textually treated as being as self aware as the rest of the cast. Even buildings get in on the act. This all makes for some really nifty double take moments. It can also be a bit distracting when you first start reading, so there is that.

As far as the story goes, it feels very much like a comedy horror detective story. It is, in fact, shaped like itself. That isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, but I do feel like it shines the most when the characters have reached Blyton Hills and are poking at the things they hadn’t had the chance or awareness to investigate in the past. The points where things they’d talked about or experienced as kids come back up in the story, how safe a room had always felt or wanting to ride a mine cart, are really strong points for the characters and they feel good. This reads best when the focus is squarely on the characters, when it’s a bunch of former teen detectives trying to go back to what was and get down to the bottom of what is. It stays there too. The reader gets to see Andy being grumpy and aggressive and trying to keep the team going. We get Nate trying to keep it together as things get weirder and weirder and the dead guy won’t stop talking to him. I do wish we has seen more of the dead guy, I feel like Peter could have been a bigger presence throughout.

The setting is also great. Like I mentioned before, buildings become almost characters, reacting to the characters approach, muttering, and the like. The town of Blyton Hills is a town dying a slow death, but not ready to let go. There’s still people and drama and the issue with that old mansion. The choice to have the book take place in 1990 also works well with a lot of standard horror tropes. The technology we rely so readily upon just isn’t there, so they’re cut off in a lot of ways. There is no just grabbing a cell phone to call for back up, because they weren’t nearly as common. Likewise, the research needed has to be done by hand because the internet wasn’t as big or readily accessible. It also sort of slots the story into this sort of timeless place that doesn’t feel quite real, technology is seldom specifically brought up so the reader can sort of let things slide as they will. Blyton Hills itself has that sort of not real feeling so many fading towns get, it meshes well with the cast being comparatively small, but we’re also treated to the protagonists noting how empty the place feels. It makes for a pretty fantastic level of low key creepiness.

Meddling Kids is definitely a book that I hope gets a follow up. The handful of things I wasn’t a fan of pale in comparison to the things that work. This gets a five out of five from me. And I’m probably going to go looking for more of Edgar Cantero’s work.