*A haunted mansion is the site of unmistakable horrors and horrific mistakes.
Seventeen-year-old Daisy Odlin recounts constantly seeing, feeling, and fearing the dead; visions of the dead lying atop her are paired with memories of an abusive 21-year-old ex-boyfriend, betraying an unrelenting sadness that Daisy theorizes the dead feed on. With an estranged father and a volatile relationship with her mother, Daisy, whose family has origins in Trinidad and Tobago, doesn’t resist when an opportunity arises for mother and daughter to leave Toronto for northern Ontario and an inherited home. A decade later, Black film student Brittney is investigating what actually happened to Daisy, her mother, and the notoriously deadly house for the web series Haunted. Brittney’s own abusive mother was a guest there after Daisy’s mother turned it into an Airbnb, and it was a positive turning point that she wrote about in a bestselling memoir that put the so-called Miracle Mansion on the map. In parallel narratives, Brittney and Daisy—with the help of a documentary filmmaker and psychic, respectively—seek truths while struggling with the realities of their respective mothers. The paranormal logistics are complex, and while Daisy is at the center of it all, Brittney’s investigation cuts through to discover layers upon layers of trauma that imbue the house with its supposed supernatural, if not psychological, power. As the saying goes, haunted people haunt people.
A story that is careful to make its ghosts and monsters painfully real. (author’s note, content warnings) (Thriller. 14-18)
– Kirkus Reviews, STARRED, 12/15/22
Gr 10 Up–Seventeen-year-old Daisy, with ancestors from Trinidad and Tobago, has always been able to see dead people, but when she moves from Toronto into an inherited mansion with her mom, the ghosts inside invade her life in a completely new way. Daisy is hoping the fresh start will be a chance to put her most recent toxic relationship with an older man behind her, but instead she is thrust into a haunted house with a monstrous will of its own. The house feels like an evil character from a Stephen King novel, though the true villains in this story are more likely to use their power to groom, rape, and gaslight their teenage victims. Readers wary of maggots and slaughtered animals should also be prepared for some of the vivid imagery present. Because the house leaves a dead Black girl in its wake, a decade later the creative team behind a popular haunted house web series decides they will investigate to shine a light on the lack of concern over “Forgotten Black Girls.” Even with the large cast of characters and dual narratives, Sambury carefully and clearly builds an intricate story that uses metaphors of gardening to spotlight the cyclical nature of sexual violence while providing a genuinely terrifying haunted house ghost story. VERDICT An excellent choice for fans of sophisticated horror that includes both paranormal and real-life terrors, such as Elana K. Arnold’s Red Hood.
– School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW, 3/1/2023
Via dual perspectives told a decade apart, two Black teens strive to uncover the secrets of a haunted house in this gripping psychological thriller by Sambury (Blood Like Fate). The house that 17-year-old Daisy’s late uncle left to her and her mother seemed to represent an answer to the family’s financial struggles, an escape from Daisy’s persistent visions of macabre ghosts, and a fresh start from her physically and emotionally abusive 21-year-old boyfriend, who recently dumped her without warning. But there is something sinister about their new home, and Daisy’s mother seems to know more about it than she’s letting on before tragedy strikes. Ten years later, the house is an AirBnB with a cult following that was spearheaded by college student Brittney’s emotionally abusive bestselling author mother, who claims her stay at the house—dubbed the Miracle Mansion—“changed her for the better.” But Brittney wants to expose it for the “house of horrors” she believes it is by uncovering its history for her investigative web show, Haunted. Using speculative elements to cultivate genuinely terrifying scares whose perpetrators straddle the line between imagined and real-life monsters, Sambury empathetically highlights cycles of abuse, depression, and generational trauma. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kristy Hunter, Knight Agency. (Feb.)
– Publishers Weekly, 1/30/2023
On the heels of her boyfriend’s betrayal, Daisy and her mom get a long-awaited call: they’ve inherited the “Miracle Mansion” of Daisy's mother’s teenage summers and can finally move out of Toronto to start an Airbnb. In a parallel story line set 10 years in the future, podcast host Brittney and her partner Jayden investigate the same mansion for an episode in the newest season of their ghost-story YouTube show. As Daisy contends with her ability to see ghosts and all the things her mom isn’t telling her, Brittney and Jayden unravel Daisy’s story from the end, until the two narratives collide in a haunting revelation. This complex, multifaceted story is not for the faint of heart; its 500-plus pages are packed with visions of dead people and different types of abuse. The deeply creepy mansion delicately ties together two main characters who, despite being separated by 10 years and having very different backgrounds, are both fierce and compellingly imperfect, though one is perhaps less reliable than the other. A must-read.
– Booklist Reviews, 1/1/23
"One part breathtaking ghost horror, one part gripping thriller, and an all-round absorbing read. Delicious Monsters turns an unflinching light onto the cycles of trauma and the ghosts that follow."
– Chloe Gong, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the These Violent Delights Duet
“A haunted house thriller packed with cryptic mystery, dark humor, and bone-chilling twists. Sambury approaches the grim recesses of intergenerational trauma with diligence and bravery. The odd ghosts, fearless prose, and raw character dynamics make this an absolute page-turner and a win for psychic fiction.”
– Ryan Douglass, New York Times bestselling author of The Taking of Jake Livingston
"Full of eerie ghosts and secrets most sinister, Delicious Monsters is the perfect read for a dark and stormy night. I read most of it from behind the safety of my fingers and was left thoroughly haunted."
– Erin A. Craig, New York Times bestselling author of House of Salt and Sorrows and Small Favors
"On one page, this book sings a lullaby, and on the next, it throws you into a whirlwind you never could’ve seen coming. At its core, Delicious Monsters is a screaming declaration to the world that Black girls are complex and flawed, capable of everything, and that we matter. I'll be putting Delicious Monsters into the hands of everyone I know with a pulse."
– Brittney Morris, author of Slay and The Cost of Knowing
“Scary, complex, emotional, lived-in, ambitious, Liselle Sambury’s Delicious Monsters is a can’t miss. A Canadian gothic epic (northern gothic?) that has a lot to say about the stories and lies we tell ourselves about our own families. Oh, and did I mention it’s scary?”
– Adam Cesare, author of Clown in a Cornfield and Video Night
"Delicious Monsters grabs you by the throat in the first chapter and refuses to let go until the very end. I was on the edge of my seat for this whole book. Sambury’s chillingly beautiful prose will stay with you for ages."
– Victoria Lee, author of A Lesson in Vengeance