Monsters real and imagined haunt the household at the center of Shaun Hamill's debut, A Cosmology of Monsters. After learning his family history later in life, Noah, the youngest of three siblings, narrates this eerie story. He begins in the 1960s, when his parents first meet. His mother, Margaret, turns down a rich suitor to marry Noah's father, Harry, a bookish but financially strapped young man with a penchant for Lovecraft. Flash forward to the early 1980s, and the couple has two daughters, Sydney and Eunice. Money is still hard to come by, but the family agrees to spend what little they have on Harry's dream to build a haunted house. As the project nears completion, Harry's behavior grows increasingly erratic. He dies from an apparent brain tumor mere days before the haunted house opens and weeks after Margaret informs him she's pregnant with their third child.
By time Noah is born, Harry is gone, and the haunted house has become the stuff of family lore. But when Noah starts hearing a strange scratching on his window at night, the boy begins to wonder if something supernatural had inspired his father's obsession with monsters. The rest of the novel unfolds in psychologically rich detail. Motives rooted in real life drive every character, even as the supernatural envelops Noah. Scary and moving in equal measure, A Cosmology of Monsters is an adept mash-up of horror and family drama that treats both genres with great care. --Amy Brady, freelance editor and writer