Seventeen-year-old Daisy Odlin can see ghosts. Like moths to a flame, spirits of the dead gravitate toward misery – something Daisy has in constant supply. Dealing with the burden of her psychic abilities, a simultaneously codependent and absent mother, and the pain of a sudden breakup, there is nothing Daisy wants more than to leave everything behind. Inheriting a mansion from her deceased uncle is supposed to be Daisy’s way out, but she discovers more monsters there than she ever imagined – monsters worse than any ghost.
Through the unique atmospheric horror of Ontario cottage country and a dual-perspective narrative that slowly feeds the spine-tingling mystery of Miracle Mansion, Liselle Sambury beckons readers towards Delicious Monsters, like a haunted house calling for its ghosts. The story jumps between two timelines: one in which Daisy must let herself be consumed by the supernatural in order to confront the evils hiding in her family’s past; the other, a decade later, in which Brittney, while investigating the mansion’s mysterious deaths for her supernatural investigation show, uncovers monsters among the living.
Liselle Sambury vividly conveys the thoughts and emotions of the characters, completely immersing the reader in the protagonists’ lives. The rich inner monologues tell us about the complexities of their experiences as they navigate their day-to-day lives, not only as people involved with the supernatural, but as young Black Canadian women. Through Brittney’s shrewd observations of her environment and Daisy’s explorations of her identity, Sambury refuses to treat gender and race as topics to tiptoe around or tokenize, adding to the authenticity and relatability of her characters.
Characters both alive and dead, including minor and antagonistic figures, are multidimensional, refreshingly flawed, yet for the most part, deeply sympathetic. Relationships are messy, truths are withheld, and characters are haunted and driven by the past. To escape pain and fulfill their deepest desires, they each seek out the predatory mansion, even if it means giving up their humanity in the process. The true horror of Delicious Monsters lies in the hearts of the living. Yet, by confronting the ugliness head-on, choosing to forgive despite it all, there is room for redemption. By the conclusion, characters remain grey, trauma remains un-erased, and ghosts still linger, but there are seeds of change and healing, sprouts of justice and remembrance. In contrast to the theme of Brittney’s show, “Forgotten Black Girls,” Delicious Monsters is a story that won’t be forgotten.