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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Mary Shelley Club, Goldy Moldavsky: A Review

As soon as I saw the title, I smashed the request button. In college, our English Club held an annual literary conference, and one of the last panels I participated in was about Mary Shelley and "chick lit" and the progression of women writers--so Mary Shelley holds a special place in my heart. Give me Scream meets Karen McManus for comp titles, and I'm 100 percent in.

One year after being attacked in her Long Island home, Rachel is trying to forge a new life at a swanky private school when a random party sends her tumbling into The Mary Shelley Club--a group of mismatched high schoolers with a love of horror movies and mayhem. Harmless mayhem--until things start to escalate and Rachel is forced to confront her past or die trying. This book was super fun. As someone who was raised on 90s slashers that have become cult classics, Moldavsky nailed the nostalgia aspect. With easter eggs for some die-hard horror aficionados and plenty of hit-you-in-the-head references to movies or books we all know and love, it's impossible to read this and not have a good time. Some of the dialogue was borderline cringe, but mostly because it felt meta: a horror book dissecting the genre and paying homage to the greats. Scream did that, too, and I remember the reactions being similar when it was first released--and look where that is in cinematic history. Part campy, part clever, I think many readers will be won over here. I also appreciated the more philosophical discussions about fear. Even though we're not supposed to take the characters too seriously, there are some insightful discussions happening about the purpose of horror and its place in a world gone mad. I love seeing multifaceted interpretations. Horror as a teacher, a remedy, a comfort. The genre is not just one thing, and I was glad to see so many different iterations of fear included in the prose. There is a certain amount of risk that comes when you reference the classics, though. People have expectations, ideas in their heads of what a narrative is supposed to look like. For me, I almost wish I hadn't read the summary beforehand because I had a *solid* grip on where the story was going after the first chapter. Did that make it less fun? Absolutely not, but I think part of the arc lost its mystery. Overall, The Mary Shelley Club is a fun, smart, psychological horror that builds on the classics and promises a wild good time. For fans of horror, Ryan Murphy high-school shenanigans, add this one to your TBR for April. Thank you to Henry Holt and Co and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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