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Monty and the Monster
Rhonda Smiley. Rhonda Smiley, $9.99 (232p) ISBN 978-0-9984492-3-4
This high-energy romp follows 12-year-old outcast skater and amateur magician Montague “Monty” Hyde, his dysfunctional family, and the monstrous friend he makes. Two years after his mom dies, Monty, his 18-year-old brother Kyle, and their scientist father are moving again—this time into a dilapidated mansion within the gated community of his father’s alma mater and new employer, Clear Rock University. When Monty discovers a trap door in his attic bedroom, he follows the passageway and finds a secret basement lab. Lonely and bullied, Monty is desperate enough to try to create a friend with the glowing green serum he finds. When the resulting hairy, odious, shape-shifting pantomiming monster he names Houdini runs amok and locals start going missing, Monty’s family and frenemies must help him save Houdini from the clutches of an unprecedented villain. Monty’s voice is distinct, abounding with snarky middle grade humor. Smiley also touches upon serious themes, including grief, identity, the mutability of relationships, and healing. While the villain’s trajectory and intentions feel underbaked, fans of Bruce Coville may enjoy the fast-paced action and campy “weird science” elements. Ages 9–12. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/10/2020

Release date 07/01/2019