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A Cosmology of Monsters

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,930 ratings  ·  443 reviews
A tender and terrifying literary horror novel - the author's debut - that tells the story of a family (creators of a haunted house attraction called the Wandering Dark) and the hereditary monsters - both metaphorical and all-too-real - that haunt them.

Monsters both figurative and very literal stalk the Turner family. The youngest child, Noah, narrates the family history:
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,930 ratings  ·  443 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chelsea by: Crime by the Book
Full disclosure: I had a bunch of nifty, gorgeous quotes to use on this review, but I seem to have lost them and already mailed my copy of the book to a friend. While you're reading this review, please pretend you are reading the author's words as I give you a FRIENDS-esque summary.

{Insert quote ofthe one where Margaret and Harry begin their intensely dark love affair. Also, H.P. Lovecraft.}

Ok, so if you've read the summary of this book, you probably had a visceral reaction to its implication,
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen?


this is an extraordinary debut novel that comes so damn close to my kind of perfect, and yet another book with a lovecrafty angle that overcomes my antipathy for lovecraft by not adopting his (to me) crappy storytelling shenanigans or his (to any reasonable human) crappy personal views on race&gender&etc. this one’s a complex and delicious blend of literary horror and family tragedy written with
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Listen to Your Mother!

Life is a horror story straight out of H.P Lovecraft. Only hopeful delusions prevent us from recognising the terrible reality of those things we have been taught to respect, admire and desire - spouse, children, work, moderate suburban comfort. Only by inducing ourselves to believe that these things are inherently valuable and that they justify our lives can we bear to tolerate the triviality, dissatisfaction, and absence of any real affection.

Yet reality continues to
Johann (jobis89)
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“I started collecting my sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.”

Noah Turner sees monsters. His father saw them - and built a shrine to them with The Wandering Dark, an immersive horror experience that the whole family operates. The rest of the Turner family has experiences with the monsters too, but Noah chooses to let them in...

Are you a fan of Stranger Things? How about weird fiction? Or Lovecraftian stories? Or literary horror? If you answered yes to at least one of these
Shaun Hutchinson
Dec 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
You know what would be really great? If non-queer authors could stop writing queer characters who inevitably kill themselves because they're queer. That would be swell.

This book is pretentious trash.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, own, vine
I was skeptical in the beginning. At first the thing scratching at the windows of members of the Turner family seemed more Muppet than monster. But that evolves quickly and once it does, the book takes off and never lets up. It's not scary, it's horrifying. Lovecraft hovers in the increasing atmosphere of dread Hamill evokes. Lovecraft is also woven into the story early because he's part of how father Harry woos future wife Margaret, by lending her his copy of "The Tomb." And then taking her to ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Noah and his family are special, but I'm not so sure that's a good thing! A COSMOLOGY OF MONSTERS is a unique story. With a great opening line like: "I started collecting my older sister Eunice’s suicide notes when I was seven years old.” how can one NOT get sucked in?

This tale about a family, the haunted house/attractions they've managed and their unique relationships with, (I'll just call it "the other" for the purposes of this review), made for fascinating reading. As a longtime fan of
Amy Imogene Reads
This is going to hurt, writing this. Trying to decide how to word my very intense, visceral reactions to this story. This is the kind of review where I loved half and hated half, so it's a 3 star purely to keep it fair.

Surreal vs Gritty Realism:
Enjoyment: 1/2 for the whole

A Cosmology of Monsters is the type of horror novel that doesn't feel like a horror novel until you're halfway through and realizing that what you thought was the scary part....actually wasn't.

I almost feel like
☽¸¸.I am¸¸.•*¨ The ¸¸.•*¨*Phoenix¨*•♫♪ ☾

I had a feeling, when I started reading this book, that it would become a favourite, and in the end I was not disappointed. I actually had to go back a couple of times during some of the most interesting parts because I was distracted thinking how beautiful the story was. Everything in this book was perfect to me: the plot, the characters, the way the story is told, the romance, the creatures, the final reveals... everything came together just perfectly and I couldn't be more happy on how it
Frank Phillips
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an incredibly bizarre, original, haunting tale! This story had so many layers to it, it would be hard to classify this as just horror, in my opinion. That reason in itself was why it appealed to me so much. I fell in love with this incredibly flawed, real, family, and found myself cringing when bad happened and routing them on when good things came. I went through a wide range of emotions while reading this as this novel had happy parts and incredibly sad, as well as terrifying parts. I ...more
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love it when a debut novel catches me completely by surprise. A Cosmology of Monsters is creative, engrossing and just plain entertaining. It's a mash-up of monster horror, coming-of-age and family saga with a splash of strange fantasy and fate. The Turner family's story spans decades and is told by the youngest child, Noah. His family is plagued by monsters....both real and imagined.

I don't want to give away too much and ruin any part of the story, so I'm not going to say much about the plot
Crime by the Book
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: work-books
I won’t be reviewing this one because it’s one of my work books - but suffice it to say I loved this read & am honored to be working on it!
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This novel worked for me in every possible way. It’s best categorized as literary horror with many ties to Lovecraft. A Cosmology Of Monsters is the story of a family obsessed. It covers many dark and disturbing areas. I could list all the content warnings here, but I don’t want to spoil the story. I will say that at the most distressing moments something beautiful would also emerge. I have been flipping back over this book since I read it. It deserves a reread in the future for sure.

Thanks to
(3.5) A Cosmology of Monsters is the story of the Turner family, narrated across decades by youngest son Noah Turner. He first pieces together the story of his parents' marriage before moving on to memories of his older sisters, Sydney and Eunice, and his own childhood. The Turners are dogged by tragedy – several members of the family disappear without a trace – and, according to Noah's account, they are also stalked by monsters. This 'relationship', too, is complicated. As a boy, Noah is ...more
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)

This is a weird book. It's mainly about the history of a very odd family story that isn't quite explained. What I can say about this book is that it's a good idea. A father who can see monsters and his son who communicates with them. But that's what it is. A good idea.

I felt like the story wasn't as fleshed out as it could have been. The idea was there, but it was very different. Each part was a different chunk of life, not necessarily tied together. Years were missing. It starts with Noah's
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physical-arcs
I’ve maybe read five horror novels my whole life, the genre is just slightly out of my comfort zone but when I saw high praise from two of my most trusted reviewers (Chelsea and Abby) I knew I had to give it a shot. And I’ve once again learned why it’s so important to step out of my comfort zone occasionally because this one was really good!

While this is definitely a horror novel it’s also not your typical gory, over the top classic horror novel, it’s way deeper and more sophisticated than I
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
My mother divorced an abusive husband and gave up the child support for survival...a solid enough reason, but with 2 small children to support by herself, and babysitters being pricey to a waitress/aspiring actress, to assume that I was one step removed from a feral child wouldn't be a stretch. This is not meant to be a therapy session, but rather the etiology of one of my guiltiest of pleasures.
At a very young age, I was in charge of my little brother -- he was 4, I was 5. On Saturdays, our
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, horror
I listened to Amazon’s audible performance of “The Cosmology of Monsters” by Shaun Hamill narrated by Sean Patrick Hopkins. Hopkins does a fabulous job in reading the story. I’m learning that narrators can make or break a story, and he does a great job.

I chose this story because in the press for it, Stephen King writes “If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this.” Well, I’m a huge Irving fan and I haven’t read a horror novel in a long while, so I thought I’d give
Out of the Bex
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was ok

I was roped in by the first paragraph and the description, but my hopes for a great story were not met by the end.

Some sections of this book are very well-written. Some were more mediocre. Sadly the balance tipped more toward mediocrity when as a whole I began to ask two questions: where is this going? and when will it end?

Something is wrong when a reader too often questions the length of the novel and continuously wonders how much is left. I almost DNF'd this, but the occasional
Laura Noggle
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
At times, I wasn't sure about this book. It had a bit of a slow, almost romantic start.

Much like Alice down the rabbit hole, things kept getting stranger.

Very unique, haunting book — glad I receive BookBub's emails because I probably wouldn't have caught Stephen King's recommendation otherwise:

"Shaun Hamill’s A Cosmology of Monsters brilliantly combines the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft with a contemporary story of a family under threat of destruction from supernatural forces. It succeeds because
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
DNF....a promising start led to me plodding along by the halfway mark. Reads like a mediocre "House of Leaves" with a hint of David Wong. A bunch of unlikable characters and a monster that seems like it was Jim Henson's worst nightmare
Jessica Woodbury
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, arc
This book has a lot of potential, there are stretches of it I really enjoyed. I think it will appeal to most fans of mainstream Horror. The hooks are quite intriguing and the central "monster" is an impressive balancing act of terrifying and tender. Definitely not a traditional haunted house novel or even a haunted family novel. There is an ambitious structure and plot and plenty of homages to Lovecraft rooted in a story of a family's obsession.

For me this didn't live up to the potential, though
Harry Jahnke
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Life makes monsters of everyone, but it's always possible to come back. Pain and death are real, but so are love, and family, and forgiveness."

Wow. What an absolute journey. Every once and while you read a story that you feel was written just for you. This was one of those for me. Incredible storytelling, horribly wonderful, moments that left me literally dropping my jaw. Can't recommend it enough. This is what horror is about; this is why the genre exists. To help us embrace the darkness in
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
How can you not be interested in a book with a Lovecraftian, monster-y cover?? While paying homage to other horror authors and tropes, it really is its own story entirely, and it doesn’t fit in any specific box. I’d define it as a family drama with a splash of supernatural adventure tale.

There is a lot I really enjoyed about this book. I loved how the story is told from Noah’s perspective. He starts with how his parents met, which is my favorite part of the whole book. It was just fun: who takes
Rachel  Drenning
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book.
I really loved this story. It was a different kind of horror than Gore and blood. It basically is about torment. Long, drawn out torment. I think the idea was very original and hope to read more by this author. I loved all the throwbacks to Lovecraft and old time monsters. I was really pleased with this book.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
A family struggles after the death of their patriarch who was obsessed with horror stories. In a moment of economic desperation, they decide to reopen the father's haunted house while the youngest child starts to be visited almost every night by a wolf like monster.

This book is reminiscent of The Haunting of Hill House and the Meow Wolf exhibit. It explores a family struggling with shared traumas and individual secrets while contending with very real monsters and horrific hidden spaces.
The Nerd Daily
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray

In his debut novel, A Cosmology of Monsters, author Shaun Hamill serves up a uniquely weird and wonderful reading experience. Noah Turner is the youngest of three children in a family plagued by monsters of both the real and fantastical variety. Noah narrates his family’s story, a tale spanning decades, which starts with his parents falling in love and ends when he is a grown adult. The novel follows the very real highs and lows that
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read my Fall 2019 interview with the author @ More2Read

Meet the Turners, they are alike and unlike any other family, there is Deborah, Harry, Margaret, Eunice, Sydney, and Noah Turner, juxtaposing through their myriad of lows and highs, reader and narrator together through marriage, friendships, death, sickness, poverty, disappearances, and suicide attempts, with wonder, creatives, and joys, through their childhood and adulthood complexities, these battles of inner and outer, monsters inner and
Eddie Generous
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unnerving Magazine Review

Listen to my chat with the author here:

This one's a fantastically strange ride and skirts the horror, fantasy, and mystery genres without settling in for a majority hold of any one. The family dynamic is engaging and realistic without bogging the pages with the monotony of day-to-day survival. At its core, this one pulls you in a lot of different directions, and does so without any fat on the meat, while it unravels with
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NYLS Book Club : October Book of the Month 4 9 Nov 07, 2019 01:32PM  

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“...he has so much he wants to tell the boy, but most important, maybe, is this: life makes monsters of everyone, but it's always possible to come back. Pain and death are real, but so are love, and family, and forgiveness.” 4 likes
“...there's no such thing as a happy ending. The songs, books, and movies with "happy endings" al stop at teh moment of triumph....There are, however, good stopping places.” 2 likes
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