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Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison

ghoul next door lisi harrison Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison


The first installment of Lisi Harrisons Monster High'series ended rather in the manner of a sentence spoken by one of her ditzy charactersyes, with a questioning tone. Things have come to a head between the monsters and the normies of Salem, and the various monsters and preternaturals attending Merston (yes, a very subtle anagram of monster) High, thanks to the antics of young Frankie Stein, are at risk of being outed.

The Ghoul Next Door'ostensibly begins moments after this cliffhanger ending, but rather than getting straight into the witch hunt side of things (this is Salem after all), Harrison turns her mind to more serious matters. Those more serious matters being a Teen Vogue'photoshoot.

Now, not to deride Anna Wintour, whom I hear is a very serious lady indeed, but weighing up a ghoulish monster mash against a shoot that probably wont even make it to the main fashion spread? It may be the general apathetic lethargy of this 2o-something reviewer, but Im reading for the flashing eyes, dangerous talons and gnashing teethof the''monster lot, that is, not Wintour. Unfortunately Harrison elevates what should be a minor subplot to key narrative stats, and rather than getting to the good stuffwhich is, given the ending of the last book, where we should beshe spends a good half of the book parading fashionista Cleo about on the pages.'Cleo is, admittedly, a good deal of fun, but theres a whole blackmail schebang going on in the background while she waltzes around bathing in milk and eating dates.

But though we do see a little more of the other characters and their efforts towards gaining some modicum of acceptance, these elements are worked in not only in a secondary manner, but also in a way thats ultimately unconvincing. Were told that the monster families of Salem have been for generations protecting their identities against the towns bigotsto the point that teens go about in white face, and are subjected to a curfewbut yet the monsters are given the okay to go on the recordon film, no lessto set things straight. Plot-wise, it all feels a bit hasty and contrived, and the bizarre photoshoot scene and the cliffhanger style ending of this second novel leaves me feeling just a wee bit cynical about whether these books are designed as anything more than Mattel doll selling vehicles (and vehicles for some truly awful Aussie dialogue. Bonza and dinkum indeed.)

Still, the interesting stuff here is the marginalisation of the monster characters and their ambivalence over outing themselves. Like the first novel in the series, in which Frankie Stein is forced to cover up her true self in order to pass according to the accepted social norms, this second novel looks at wider social prejudices and the effect on self-concept that this has on the teens who for whatever reason fall outside the bounds of normal. Harrison does spend some time reflecting on the varied ways in which these teens may be otheredsome in what may seem like minor ways, others through overt attacksand this is quite interesting. Tragically, the teens efforts to document their experiences and challenges is undermined when their narrative is taken from them and rewritten according to mainstream perceptions.

Though all of this occurs in amongst monstrous puns (yes, Im a hypocrite, but I couldnt let that one go) and determined efforts to squeeze as much novelty out of the yearbooks of the arcane as possible, its surprisingly moving. Its a shame, though, that what has beenand should bethe major theme of the series becomes subjugated to Cleos quest for fame. (It could, of course, be argued that this is quite pointed).

Still, I dont want to spend too much time analysing whats going on here, because, well, really, theres not that much going on here.'The Monster High'books are essentially a rampaging romp of puns, supernatural cameos, and freak chic, and though theyre too slick to really resonate for much more than a moment or two after that final page has been turned, theyre low-key fun.

Rating: star Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrisonstar Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrisonhalfstar Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrisonblankstar Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrisonblankstar Book Review: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison (not bad)

This book was read as part of my participation in the MS Readathon, a charity event that supports multiple sclerosis research. If you would like to sponsor my efforts, you can do so'here. All donations are tax deductible.

With thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy

Purchase The Ghoul Next Door'from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

See our other Lisi Harrison reviews

Other books by Lisi Harrison:


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