"The day I returned to Templeton steeped in disgrace, the fifty-foot corpse of a monster surfaced in Lake Glimmerglass."
So begins The Monsters of Templeton, a novel spanning two centuries: part a contemporary story of a girl's search for her father, part historical novel, and part ghost story, this spellbinding novel is at its core a tale of how one town holds the secrets of a family.
In the wake of a wildly disastrous affair with her married archeology professor, Willie Upton arrives on the doorstep of her ancestral home in Templeton, New York, where her hippie-turned-born-again-Baptist mom, Vi, still lives. Willie expects to be able to hide in the place that has been home to her family for generations, but the monster's death changes the fabric of the quiet, picture-perfect town her ancestors founded. Even further, Willie learns that the story her mother had always told her about her father has all been a lie: he wasn't the random man from a free-love commune that Vi had led her to imagine, but someone else entirely. Someone from this very town.
As Willie puts her archaeological skills to work digging for the truth about her lineage, she discovers that the secrets of her family run deep. Through letters, editorials, and journal entries, the dead rise up to tell their sides of the story as dark mysteries come to light, past and present blur, old stories are finally put to rest, and the shocking truth about more than one monster is revealed.
If one were to complain about Monsters, the overwhelming number of characters and voices introduced throughout the root story would be the most likely grievance. Yet for some readers, this layering of history and modern day will be a large part of the book's appeal. The determination must be based on personal taste and reading mood. This is a book for readers wishing to be enveloped by their reading, willing to be engrossed, and desirous of a novel that requires them to devote their full attention to its pages. For those who are browsing for a breezy read, Groff's work is probably not the title to pick off of the shelf. (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Flawed, but commendably ambitious and stuffed with ideas-many of them not well developed, but inspiring hope for a more disciplined second effort from this talented newcomer.
[T]his is an irresistible adventure. Highly recommended.
A fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure.
Starred Review. Readers will delight in Willie's sharp wit and Groff's creation of an entire world, complete with a lake monster and illegitimate children.
I was sorry to see this rich and wonderful novel come to an end, and there is no higher success than that.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Ladyslott Monsters Are Often next Door This book is hard to categorize, part fiction, mystery and fantasy.
Willie (Wilhelmina) Upton has returned to her hometown of Templeton NY. She has left school at Stanford in disgrace and hopes to hide away in the town that her family has lived... Read More
Rated of 5
by Judy Krueger Disappointed in Templeton I wish I could say that I loved this book, but I didn't. I was looking forward to it with high expectations because I had read a story by the author in the 2007 Best American Short Stories which just took my breath away.
I think this is an... Read More
Though Groff's preface clearly
defines her book as a work of
fiction, she also admits that it
is a love story of sorts for her
childhood hometown of
Cooperstown, New York.
Cooperstown, a village in Otsego
County, has several claims to
fame, the most prominent of
which is the
National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1908, the seven-man Mills
Commission chose Cooperstown as
the site for the Hall of Fame.
The Mills Commission was formed
three years prior for the
purpose of determining where and
under what circumstances
America's favorite game was
invented. Cooperstown was chosen
to host the Hall of Fame mostly
because of its connection to
A multiple-award winner for his short fiction, author Joe Hill immediately vaults into the top echelon of dark fantasists with a blood-chilling roller-coaster ride of a novel, a masterwork brimming with relentless thrills and acid terror.
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