A Cosmology of Monsters

A Cosmology of Monsters : A Novel

3.79 (6,729 ratings by Goodreads)
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If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it." --Stephen King



Monsters both figurative and very literal stalk the Turner family. The youngest child, Noah, narrates the family history: how in the late '60s, his bookish mother, Margaret, marries Lovecraft-lover Harry against her better judgment. The couple has two daughters--Sydney, born for the spotlight, and the brilliant but awkward Eunice, a natural writer and storyteller. But finances are tight, Margaret and Eunice are haunted by horrific dreams, and Harry starts acting strangely. He becomes obsessed with the construction of an elaborately crafted haunted house attraction, christened the Wandering Dark. The family tries to shield baby Noah from the house's faux horrors, but unbeknownst to them, he's being visited by a furry beast with glowing orange eyes--the same ghastly being glimpsed by both his mother and sister. However, unlike them, Noah decides to let the creature in. . . .

As he approaches the conclusion of his family's tale, it becomes more and more apparent that there's only one way the story can end: with Noah making the ultimate sacrifice.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 131 x 203 x 18mm | 244g
  • Vintage Books
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 052556392X
  • 9780525563921
  • 1,295,768

Review quote

"Shaun Hamill's A Cosmology of Monsters brilliantly combines the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft with a contemporary story of a family under threat of destruction from supernatural forces. It succeeds because these are good, likeable people that we root for; they could be our neighbors. Horror only works when we care for the people involved, and because we care for the Turners, their nightmare becomes ours. Hamill's prose is simple, and simply beautiful. If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it, and think you will, too."
--Stephen King

"Hamill has crafted an ambitious, spellbinding horror novel for the ages, one where the looming specters of ambition, obsession, and loss are every bit as terrifying as the flesh-and-blood monsters themselves."

"[A] horror tale unafraid to tackle big issues of familial fealty, the architecture of fear, and the metaphysics of love, all while shocking the pants off the reader. . . . Cosmology straddles the line between scares and feels with confidence and flair. . . . It's a book that haunts in a myriad ways, and its monsters are just as often palpably real as they are dredged from the depths of nightmares. Horrific yet emotionally immersive, A Cosmology of Monsters is equally a cartography of the heart."

"[A Cosmology of Monsters] is very much John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire by way of H.P. Lovecraft. . . . The book is a mesmerizing, meandering, dark tale of growing up and finding monsters all around you."
--Houston Chronicle

"[A Cosmology of Monsters] is a family saga about the anguish of coming of age. It is a horror novel about the horrors of living. It is also very much about the redemptive nature of love."
--The Anniston Star

"A magnificent tribute to Lovecraft's vexing achievement, A Cosmology of Monsters redeems . . . the master's flaws. Hamill's heart-stopping debut novel features exceptionally graceful language and a set of characters we come to worry about, take delight in, grieve for and love. Saturated with endless wonder and horrific consequences. . . . Bites horror to its core."

"A Cosmology of Monsters is almost more John Irving than [Stephen] King, since Hamill writes about family, sex, and all things grotesque with a gleeful openness. In a way, the novel is a twisted coming-of-age tale, with all the benchmarks of male adolescence--shame, jealousy, anger, and id--personified in the form of a monster and transformed into literal horror. It's a novel that's both beautiful and terrifying, which isn't the easiest thing to pull off. Hamill knows how to craft great horror fiction, but he's also a keen observer of how families cope with loss and with one another."
--Texas Observer

"A Cosmology of Monsters takes the basic idea of ancient monsters from mind-shattering dimensions to some unique and empathetic places. . . . The book is an object lesson in truly effective horror storytelling, proving that the best way to make you afraid for a character is to make you care about them first."
--The A.V. Club

"A uniquely weird and wonderful reading experience. . . . The writing is simply haunting, the story full of heart. . . . I highly recommend this novel for fans of Paul Tremblay and Stephen King. Much in the vein of these two celebrated horror writers, Hamill has built a rich world full of complex characters and he successfully delivers in showing how the horrors of real life can be just as terrifying as any monster."
--The Nerd Daily

"Told with tenderness and brimming with darkness, Hamill's debut is sure to please readers who have a special literary craving for monsters."
--The Millions

"[A] very scary coming-of-age tale that lives in the same space as Stranger Things, Stand By Me, and Stephen King's It. . . . The way Hamill weaves his way between the phantasmagorical elements and Noah's everyday dramas is nimble in a way reminiscent of King. . . . An accomplished, macabre horror saga and a promising debut from an imaginative new author."
--Kirkus Reviews
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About Shaun Hamill

A native of Arlington, Texas, SHAUN HAMILL holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in the dark woods of Alabama with his wife, his in-laws, and his dog. A Cosmology of Monsters is his first novel.
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Rating details

6,729 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 26% (1,744)
4 39% (2,626)
3 25% (1,694)
2 8% (523)
1 2% (142)
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