The Monsters of Rookhaven

The Monsters of Rookhaven

By Author / Illustrator

Padraig Kenny, Edward Bettison



Age range(s)



Pan Macmillan




Paperback / softback




Winner of the Honour Award for Fiction, KPMG Irish Children's Book Awards, 2021.

Sometimes the monsters take us. Sometimes we become the monsters.

Mirabelle has always known she is a monster. When the glamour protecting her unusual family from the human world is torn and an orphaned brother and sister stumble upon Rookhaven, Mirabelle soon discovers that friendship can be found in the outside world.  But as something far more sinister comes to threaten them all, it quickly becomes clear that the true monsters aren't necessarily the ones you can see.

A thought-provoking, chilling and beautifully written novel, Padraig Kenny's The Monsters of Rookhhaven, stunningly illustrated by Edward Bettison, explores difference and empathy through the eyes of characters you won't want to let go.

'A stunning book . . . a brand new take on the monster story' Eoin Colfer



Tin, Padraig Kenny's first book for children, ranks as one of my all-time favourites, so with each subsequent book by him I've been on tenterhooks to see if I like it as much. He does not disappoint with this one.

Brother and sister Tom and Jem stumble across a strange house in the village of Rookhaven. They are taken in and sheltered by the inhabitants, who turn out to be monsters; their unusual 'family' previously protected by a 'glamour' that now appears to be failing. Jem makes friends with one of the family, Mirabelle; both of them have never experienced friendship before. But something far worse is coming that threatens them all, something that could destroy the careful balance between the monsters and the human villagers who live nearby.

This book is both brilliant and terrifying in equal measure. The reader is quickly invested in the lives of the two children and the monster family, but from the beginning you are on edge, not knowing how the characters will act and react to each other. The lines between human and monster begin to blur, and you are not sure whether one is more monstrous than the other.

Some of the horror is neatly managed by the superb illustrations of Edward Bettison. The monsters are not so monstrous when shown in illustration, but the darkness is captured, particularly by the black pages with white font and drawing.

Padraig Kenny says, in the author's notes, that he has always loved monsters and it shows. It is so well written and his love of monsters is on display for all to see. The tension builds, and as it does, we learn more about the monsters and they become less terrifying and more complex. By the chilling climax this becomes an impossible book to put down and the ending is particularly satisfying.

This is not for the fainthearted reader, but it is absolutely excellent and older readers (Upper KS2) would really enjoy it and the gothic story it tells. I was also very excited to hear there is a sequel in the pipeline; apparently even more scary!

352 pages / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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