Review of Man Made Monsters

Man Made Monsters
by Andrea L. Rogers; illus. by Jeff Edwards
High School    Levine Querido    336 pp.    g
10/22    978-1-64614-179-1    $19.99

In her debut YA novel, Cherokee writer Rogers distills two centuries of realistic intergenerational trauma into eighteen short horror stories linked by family connections. From the first story, set in 1839, to the last, set in 2039, the reader comes to know members of one family, forced out of their ancestral lands to the Cherokee Nation and dispersed further as “Urban Indians.” Each story stands on its own but also reflects the interconnectedness of Cherokee families and culture. A family tree shows how characters are related, and transliterated words in Tsalagi center the Cherokee worldview. Edwards’s (Cherokee) striking white-on-black graphic art at the start of each story incorporates symbols from the Cherokee syllabary. Rogers writes about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, sea monsters, humanoids, aliens, skillies, the Deer Woman, and the Lake Worth Monster (a “Goat Man”), but the real horrors here are genocide and cultural annihilation, domestic violence and sexual assault, school shootings, medical experimentation, pandemics, and ecological catastrophes. “Treaties were broken, and we were chased by human monsters, monsters who lived on blood and sorrow.” Many of these stories sound as if they were passed down as family histories. It may read like speculative fiction, but it feels like truth.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Lara K. Aase

Lara K. Aase teaches American Indian youth literature and other AIS courses at California State University San Marcos. She has an MA in comparative literature (Spanish/English) from the University of New Mexico and an MLIS from the University of Washington.

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