By Shaun Hamill
A Cosmology of Monsters transforms the reader into a perpetual page turning instrument. By means of originality in story telling, complex under layers, smooth transitions from one perspective and time period to the next, prose, and use of well-known monsters…is this list not enough to convince you to read this book yet? Alrighty. Let’s move on to other reasons why this should be on your TBR pile.
Hamill and COSMOLOGY feel like classics. He, a novelist that students research for projects, and Cosmology, a story that tells you that horror can be so many things to so many different people. Yet, this is his debut novel!
This story is about a family of five (dad, mom, two daughters, and the youngest, Noah), haunted houses, monsters, and a lurking undertone of Lovecraft. The Turner family dedicates their lives to scaring people, and just like any family, they aren’t perfect…by a long shot. It felt like a biography of the Turner family. It was in-depth with each family member, but not to the point where it dragged and slowed down.
Our protagonist, Noah, like any good character, is complicated. I could see myself being friends with him. As far as his decisions go, I don’t think I would have reacted the same as him in many of the situations, but isn’t that what good stories do? They help us understand other people. They help us understand the strange. They help to dissect ourselves and the labyrinths in our, and other people’s, minds. Also, like Noah, some of us don’t feel comfortable in our own skin. We don’t like our outer appearance for one reason or another. This is something that Noah constantly battles with throughout Cosmology.
What I found most interesting about this book is the line it consistently walked on. It’s horror. It’s a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft. It’s a head nod to the pulp magazine era. It’s an appreciation for the evolution of horror throughout the 20th century. It’s a great example of what a hybrid story should feel and read like. It isn’t full of gore. It’s not full of vulgarity (two things, to me, that make it appropriate for a younger audience as much as an older). And you can make a good case of it being literary fiction.
Here’s the best part of the book. You don’t have to be a fan of Lovecraft. You don’t have to be a horror fan. You don’t even have to be a fan of monsters. You just have to be a fan of good stories. This is about people. But, more importantly, at the end of the day, some of us are monsters…and some of us blur the line of the two.
Review by Patrick R. McDonough
I received a copy from the publisher for review consideration.