"Delicious Monsters" | Reviewed by Jennifer Johnson
In Liselle Sambury’s book “Delicious Monsters,” Daisy sees ghosts. Literally.
The dead are everywhere in Toronto but Daisy has perfected methods of protection to keep wandering apparitions at bay: her music and jungle of houseplants create a barrier between them and her sanity. Yet the undead are the least of her concerns when older boyfriend Noah “ghosts” her, embarrassed when his college friends discover that Daisy is still in high school. When Daisy’s mother reveals that she has inherited a house in Ontario the timing couldn’t be better for Daisy to start over and get away from the things that haunt her.
The sprawling manor on the lake in northern Ontario is a far cry from the cramped apartment in bustling Toronto. Daisy’s mother has planned to turn the mansion into a bed and breakfast, and while the adjacent cottage they move into is a drastic upgrade in housing, Daisy is confused and disappointed when her mother forbids her from entering the big house. Why not? And who is the previously unknown family who left a mansion to Daisy’s mother?
Daisy is baffled and soon begins to realize that the secrets her mother has kept from her pose a greater threat than any of the other supernatural forces she’s met before. When guests start to perish unexpectedly, time begins to run out for Daisy to discover what is plaguing the mansion…ghost or otherwise.
A decade later, Brittney, a young media intern, faces her own maternal crisis with her mother. Life in the shadow of her famous author mother is exhausting. The rest of the world having fallen for her mother’s tale of being a reformed woman after her stay at the “Miracle Mansion” (the same house that brought Daisy so much torment years before). Brittney knows the truth—the neglect and abuse she endured never stopped. When an anonymous source contacts her about the ghastly events at the mansion—not the life-changing miracle her mother claims in her novel—Brittany sets off to uncover the truth of what happened, using her web series “Haunted” to bring the past to light.
“Delicious Monsters” is fantastic and relevant, gracefully handling the precarious relationships between mothers and daughters and questioning whether every narrative deserves a redemptive arc. While there is definitely a supernatural element to the book, it pulls back the veil to show us what is truly terrifying. This is indeed a ghost story, but not every ghost is the kind that walks through doors or disappears into the mist: some monsters are very much made of flesh and bone.