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Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero is an adventure, a coming of age tale of self-discovery, a mystical mystery, and a chilling horror, all wrapped up into one. It revolves around a group of four kids - Andy, Kerri, Nate and Peter, and their dog, Sean - who called themselves the Blyton Summer Detective Club and would get together each summer in Blyton Hills, Oregon and solve silly little local mysteries, until one summer they stumbled upon something... different.

The year is 1990 and they aren't kids anymore. 13 years have passed since they solved their biggest case involving a local "haunted house" and their investigation sent Thomas X. Wickley off to prison when they discovered that he was dressing up as the "Sleepy Lake Monster" and scaring locals around the famed Deboen House. Sadly, the incident left everyone involved scarred in one way or another.

Wickley has just been released from prison, but still holds a terrible grudge against those "meddling kids," while Kerri Hollis and her dog Tim (grandson of Sean), now live in a tiny apartment in New York and Kerri still experiences horrible nightmares. Her cousin, Nate Rogers, is in a mental institution and he suffers from delusions, mainly hallucinating that his childhood friend, Peter Manner, is always by his side giving a snarky running commentary. Sadly, the truth is that Peter committed suicide after becoming a movie star, and he died in Hollywood. The last of the group, Andrea "Andy" Rodriguez, has been on her own since the age of 16, having left the group and never turning back. She's gotten herself into a good bit of trouble since then, but she's a tough girl who knows how to handle herself. With the group scattered, she begins to seek out the others to discuss the events that really happened all of those years ago.

Once Andy reconnects with Kerri, and meets Tim, Kerri's affable Weimeraner, she convinces her old friend that they need to put the group back together and revisit Blyton Hills, since they all know the events of what happened that fated night didn't quite go down the way the papers recorded it. Sure, they caught the bad guy, but he wasn't the only scary thing in Deboen House, but the four of them never discussed what truly happened and they've been silent on the matter all of these years, although each one was left haunted in their own way. After the pair break... I mean, get Nate released from the mental institution and convince him to also return to the "scene of the crime," they discover that Blyton Hills, a former mining town near the Zoinx River, isn't quite what they remember, but Deboen House is just as terrifying as ever.

The three 20-somethings are then forced to confront not only their fears and memories of what happened, but also how they have changed over the years; namely, the fact that Andy has been in love with Kerri since they were 12, and somewhere deep inside, Kerri has always known it, meanwhile Nate has just repressed the events until he was just this side of insane. As they explore the storied old house and the mining caves around it, their worst nightmares will come true as they discover that something in the Deboen House has been waiting for their return, and they've just walked right into its trap.

I enjoyed Meddling Kids a good bit, especially Edgar Cantero's descriptive word-smashing, using terms like "olivertwisting his eyes" and my favorite, "tragichuckled." He does this a good bit, but it really helps to flesh out exactly what he is trying to get across. I also loved the way he described Kerri's vibrant, curly red hair, as if it were alive and a bit sentient, and was completely representative of the way Kerri felt. What I wasn't too crazy about were the few instances where the action was coming to a crescendo and he wrote full paragraphs composed of one, long-running, mashed-together, run-on sentence. I get that it was to get a panicked point across, but somewhere in all of that, my mind was just searching for some punctuation to end the thought. It's a nitpick, but it did bother me the few times it happened when the paragraphs were really long.

Aside from that, I thought Meddling Kids was a really fun story and it definitely didn't turn out the way I expected, but it wrapped up beautifully. It had notes of coming to terms with oneself, acceptance of others (even if they treated you badly in earlier years), fierce loyalty, protectiveness, and honesty. Plus, it had horrifying monsters, sorcery, the Necronomicon, spelunkering in creepy caves, and near misses with death. What's not to love?

If you like a good mystery, you'll probably enjoy Meddling Kids. Based on the end of the book, I'm not altogether sure that the Blyton Summer Detective Club has finished their work. There could always be another case!

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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