YA Weekend: Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Horror, Young Adult

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry (February 28, 2023)

Length: 512 pages

Author Information: Website | Twitter

A haunted house sits in the center of Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury, a young adult horror novel following the lives of two young black women whose stories unfold a decade apart.

In the beginning we meet Daisy Odlin, a seventeen-year-old who can see dead people. Living in Toronto, a bustling city home to millions, encountering ghosts everywhere she goes has been an unavoidable reality for as long as she can remember. Negative vibes seem to attract them, as Daisy believes, and unfortunately, there’s little for her to feel happy about these days. Her older boyfriend has just dumped her and, completely new to love and naïve to the toxic signs of an abusive relationship, Daisy is left feeling lost, sad, and angry. But then one day, a phone call changes her life. Her mother has just inherited a mansion in rural northern Ontario, offering a fresh start and a chance to escape. Having spent her childhood summers there, Daisy’s mom has plans to turn the house into a luxurious AirBnB, but strange things start happening almost as soon as they arrive. The two of them are also staying in the separate bunkie on the property, and for no reason she can fathom, Daisy is forbidden to ever set foot in the main house. Why is her mother being so secretive, and why do their neighbors, a family of self-proclaimed psychics, keep insisting on coming over to do a spiritual cleansing?

Ten years later, the house is again at the focus of a popular investigative web series called Haunted, whose creator Brittney wants the new season to be about the missing and forgotten black girls who go ignored in the media. But Brittney has a personal stake in this story as well. Her cold, disparaging mother, who had stayed at the house as an AirBnB guest, later claimed in her bestselling book that the experience turned her life around. Brittney, however, believes it all to be a sham. She wants to debunk the “Miracle Mansion” myth by shining a light on the tragic events surrounding a young black victim that occurred there, and also to expose her mother for the liar and scam artist she knows her to be.

This novel was a great read, which I actually enjoyed more than my last book by Liselle Sambury. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Like Magic certainly had its moments, but it was still at its heart a rather run-of-the-mill YA paranormal fantasy while Delicious Monsters told a much more sophisticated story that explored themes and topics going far deeper than its YA horror label. In fact, despite its haunted and ghostly trimmings, this book wasn’t conventionally frightening or even that creepy at all. The monsters our main characters deal with are of the more earthly sort, as both Daisy and Brittney wrestle with their emotional demons while looking for the truth in different ways.

As with most stories told via dual perspectives though, Delicious Monsters occasionally runs into issues related to pacing and balance. While efforts were clearly made to split the attention between the two protagonists, I felt that Daisy’s chapters were not only more eventful and detailed, but they were also infused with more intellectual and emotional depth.

Granted, Brittney’s role as a filmmaker might have put her into a more secondary role than her subject, who was Daisy herself, but I never really understood the former’s deep and unbridled bitterness for her mother. Meanwhile, in Daisy readers got more of a coming-of-age narrative exploring the ups and downs of a girl trying to navigate relationship problems, mom problems, moving-from-the-city-to-a-small-town problems…all the while struggling with the fact she sees dead people. Not to mention it can be a callous world with some of its more hideous realities—such as a one-sided relationship with an older man exhibiting predatory behavior by taking advantage of an inexperienced and moonstruck teenager.

Likely that also explained why I was more willing to give Daisy a pass when it came to the excessive hostility wafting off her character, as I felt that she had been badly treated in the past, and as a seventeen-year-old still trying to figure out life, the angst might have been slightly warranted. On the other hand, I had a much tougher time connecting with Brittney whose approach to life with a massive chip on her shoulder got old pretty quickly. I just find it hard to sympathize with judgmental characters who think that feeling crappy entitles them to be nasty to their friends or people they don’t know. Like I said, it might have something to do with the fact I felt readers didn’t get to know Brittney as well as Daisy, but generally, there is a lot of anger and resentful coming off from both characters in this book, where the supporting characters are definitely more reasonable and likeable.

Its flaws aside though, I would still recommend Delicious Monsters. This feels like a very personal book, which can be gleaned in moments especially from the Daisy chapters, and despite the uneven pacing and slower first half, the ending with its revelations and emotional punches made it all worthwhile.

7 Comments on “YA Weekend: Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury”

  1. A lovely, nuanced review of this book. I’m wary of dual narratives because I get fed up if I tend to prefer one character over another – and this one sounds as if it falls into that category. I really enjoyed how you analysed the differences and why one character is more appealing.


  2. This one is completely new to me. Glad to hear you ended up enjoying it. It’s nice when a story feels personal, as if the author really put themselves into it.


  3. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 03/12/23: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  4. Color me intrigued… The haunted house angle is attractive enough, but what you shared about characters and their journeys – particularly where Daisy is concerned – sounds like the “meatier” side of the story. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


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