While at Scares That Care Weekend this year, I met so many wonderful authors, but had limited space to bring books back home in my suitcase. So, the first night there, I did a little digging on GoodReads to view the synopses of the books from the authors whose work interested me. I’d read and loved Matt Hayward’s collaboration with Robert Ford, and decided to pick up a copy of The Faithful, and also the book I’ll be discussing here—What Do Monsters Fear?
I love that while we all cherish many of the same novels, each reader comes to the story with a different perspective based on their own life experience. If you’ve been following me for some time, then you likely know that I lost my Dad to suicide a few months ago. In the synopsis of this novel, it’s made clear that the main character is considering this same type of fate. So, I can tell you this: the first couple chapters of this novel cracked my heart a little, as I read about Peter’s pain and the negative thoughts going through his mind at that time. However, this did not deter me from reading on, as it’s no secret I love books that stir up all kinds of feelings.
What followed as the story continued had all the makings of what I’d call a great horror novel. Not only is the protagonist a well-developed character, but the supporting players are all memorable in their own right. I loved reading about the relationship between Peter and his grandmother, and his developing friendship with Henry. I never felt like the story was lagging, and the pace picked up even more during the second half of the book. It’s a story with a great premise, haunting and original setting, and dabs of humor and heart mixed in along the way. The whole thing played out like a movie in my mind, as all the best stories do. I also liked that the writing is descriptive, yet to the point—it’s not bogged down with unnecessary detail, which also contributes to the nearly nonstop action once the characters arrive at their destination.
Overall, this is an impressive debut novel; a well-told story with a solid character arc and a satisfying ending. Whenever I discover a great author and it seems I’m a bit late to the party, I feel a bit sorry about it. But if I look on the bright side of things, that just means that I can take a bit more time to enjoy the rest of Matt Hayward’s published work while I’m waiting for new material.