The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

Hot diggity dang, that was BRILLIANT !!! The Children of the Hill is one not to be missed!!

The hook, pace, setting and themes: Was the story a page-turner?

Yes!! Jennifer McMahon uses elements of a supernatural thriller and psychological suspense with rip-roaring pacing that had me awake reading past my usual bedtime!! That’s not easy because I will fall asleep holding my book or kindle.

Located on a top of a forested hill, Hillside Inn is known as one of the best psychiatric institutions in New England. There is something different about the Hillside Inn. It’s not your typical gothic setting using psychiatric institutions for its chilling atmosphere. It is more like a picturesque country estate rather than a hospital.

Monsters are explored here. The ones who know they are monsters and the ones who don’t. Not a new thing to explore with the question, “Who are the real monsters.” However, in the hands of McMahon, finding out the answer is fresh and exciting!!

Structure: The story is told in two lines. One in 1978, where we meet Violet, Eric, and Iris, and in 2019, in the POV of Lizzy as she hunts for a monster. There are chapters from The Monster, journal entries from The Book of Monsters by Violet, Eric, and Iris and snippets from an article written about Hillside Inn.

The Characters: Are the characters interesting with flaws that drive the story forward and had me rooting for them?

Yes!! They have secrets that add to the suspense to the story. I was rooting for Lizzy to find the monster she is hunting.

Violet and Eric have a fascination with monsters. They have a club where they hunt them and write about them. When their Gran brings home a silent, fearful Iris who has no memory, Vi invites her to join their club and she promises to find out what secrets Gran is hiding.

Central Conflict: What elements drive the story forward?

McMahon uses cat and mouse elements with a game of hide and seek as Lizzy chases her monster. The tension that increases with every turn builds the thrills and chills needed to drive the story forward. The suspense created the questions I needed to know the answers to, and I couldn’t stop reading until I had them.

Payoff: Was the story layered with clues to see some of the twists and turns coming with a rewarding payoff in the end?

Yes!!! This is what I found brilliant about the story. The clues are there right from the beginning, and I can’t believe, after all the thrillers I read, I didn’t pick up on them. I love it when the final twists come as a shock, but it’s believable because the clues were there. That is what makes for a well-written, clever rewarding thriller.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely!!

Published: April 2022/Read May 2022

Penny for your thoughts!!

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