cover image Monster on the Hill

Monster on the Hill

Rob Harrell. (192p) , $19.95 ISBN 978-1-60309-075-9

Lots of folks enjoy a good scare, and that’s certainly true of the inhabitants of the alternate England in this goofy adventure from Harrell, creator of the comic strip Big Top. The year is 1867, and monsters are terrorizing England’s towns—much to the delight of their citizens (it’s great for tourism). The one exception is Stoker-on-Avon (one of many nods to classic literature that Harrell tucks into the story), whose monster, Rayburn, is rather depressed. “Day 536 Without Monster Attack,” shouts a newspaper headline. “Disappointment Palpable in Streets.” It’s up to a semi-disgraced scientist/inventor, Dr. Charles Wilkie, and Timmy, a “town crier/street urchin,” to help Rayburn get his groove (and growl) back. Harrell’s exuberant, cinematic cartooning plays up the fun of his mashup concept; despite the 19th-century setting, the dialogue is determinedly modern (with references to Hot Pockets, group hugs, and “deep tissue work”) in a way that recalls the Shrek films. But the anachronisms in no way damper the fun—the jokes pile up as quickly as the carnage when Rayburn monsters up to save his town. Ages 10–up. (July)