Man Made Monsters

Levine Querido. Oct. 2022. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781646141791.
Gr 8 Up–Chilling stories tell about generations of a Cherokee family’s encounters with the supernatural and violence. Beginning on the Trail of Tears, when Ama is turned into the Undead, and continuing through 2039, the stories of Ama’s various family members and descendants are told. Each chapter can be read as a standalone short story; the entries are tied together by characters from one story appearing in later ones. Ama is featured in many of the chapters, appearing to help and guide her current family members through various trials and tribulations. The stories from the 1800s are odes to European horror. In the 1900s, ghosts, werewolves, and revenge are the main topics, and during the 2000s, most of the characters are dealing with violence—dating, gun, and domestic. Traumatic events are primarily alluded to, then described in detail. Most chapters end without a clear understanding of what happened to the various characters. The narrative incorporates Cherokee history, words, and customs. One section focuses on Deer Woman, a Cherokee myth, who avenges women and children. The themes throughout are family love and tribal ties. Each chapter begins with the name of a family member, date of the event, and a white illustration on a black background. Family trees are provided at the beginning, and a glossary of Cherokee words written in English and in Cherokee syllabary are provided at the end.
VERDICT Full of familiar tropes and new ideas, these stories are the right balance of suspense without too much horror. A strong first purchase.

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