We recently read Broken Monsters, the fourth novel by Lauren Beukes, as part of our Six Weeks of Halloween celebration. I chose this book for our little group activity because I’d read some of the author’s previous work and found her writing style to be absorbing and vivid…and I thought it might be nice to include something scary without a paranormal element for those who don’t go in for monster stories. Just kidding, that’s not at all what happens in this book.
Broken Monsters begins as a straight thriller and manages to continue the masquerade well throughout the first half of the story. Then suddenly it makes good on all the subtle hints and half-glimpsed shapes, morphing into something genre-bending and altogether different. Having read The Shining Girls and familiar with the author’s fondness for blending serial killers with the supernatural, I didn’t find it terribly surprising when that was also the case here. However, I couldn’t help but that think that readers unfamiliar with her previous work might feel as though they’d been misled into reading a different kind of story than the one they had expected.
All of which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. The main characters are people of color and, despite a few missteps with the vernacular (using “roundabout” instead of “merry-go-round,” “dogsbody” instead of “handyman,” “CVs” instead of “résumés”), well-written and refreshing. Through them and the other characters who inhabit the book, Ms. Beukes subtly – and sometimes not so subtly – explores a myriad of fractures in modern society. The story itself is dark, fast-paced, morbidly compelling…and did I mention dark? Seriously, this is not one for the squeamish or anyone who is bothered by the thought of postmortem mutilation because there’s a whole lot of that going on here. If, on the other hand, you’re like me and a little bit of a weirdo, laugh at slasher movies, and give fictional serial killers performing postmortem mutilation a big “thumbs up” then hey, there’s a whole lot of that going on here!
*This is an obligatory reminder that you have only a week left to enter to win our Six Weeks of Halloween giveaway. To enter, just comment “Trick or Treat” on any Six Weeks of Halloween post. You can enter up to twice per day until 3:00 PM (EST) October 20th, at which time a winner will be chosen. I don’t get to keep the stuff, so you might as well try to win it instead.