REVIEW: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

REVIEW: Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

What if Scooby Doo was real? Like really real.

Well, Edgar Cantero wrote that story.

And not only is it hilarious, there’s not a boring page in the entire book.

By the end of Meddling Kids, I was left wondering what had just happened. And, more specifically–as a writer–how Cantero managed to pull it off.

It’s the story of a group of kids, now in their twenties, who’d gotten a little off track in life. They had shared trauma. And it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

But now, the one thing they couldn’t run from was their past. And so their paths converge again, some reluctantly, and they come together to face what they’d been running from for the last decade or so.

Except, whatever they thought it was…it was worse.

(You know how it goes.)

One of my favorite parts was the narrative devices he used. For Cantero, nothing is off limits. Even the page he’s writing on. From time to time, he switches from a standard paragraph format to a rapid-fire movie script. And, it worked. It worked so well.

But, I think, my favorite part is when he switches to the dog’s pov. Just randomly, there’s a new character in the scene. And he’s a little…off. Until you realize, oh, it’s the dog. And he’s talking now. Okay.

It’s that kind of book. And he’s one of those special few authors who can pull it off.

I read this in print, and also listened to it in audio. If you get it on audio, the narrator (Kyla Garcia @KylaVictoria) does a wonderful job.

Whenever I find a great writer, I start reading all of their stuff. After Meddling Kids, I picked up Cantero’s 2019 release, This Body’s Not Big Enough for Both of Us.

It’s about a set of twins that share the same, single body. And they solve crimes. Naturally.

In some ways, it’s classic noir like Dashiel Hammett. But in other ways, it’s, well, just a completely irreverent, out of control, story.

Cantero is a character writer through and through. And his characters are a constant smattering of cliches-used-right with never ending pop culture references.

In that way, it really doesn’t matter what genre he’s writing in. Good writing is good writing.


Edgar Cantero is a top-shelf writer. Quite rare. No denying that.

But Meddling Kids and This Body are both R-rated–or maybe even a little beyond. Lots of swearing. And…occassionally a little bit of mature content. So, trigger warning.

REVIEW: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

REVIEW: Suspicious Minds by Gwenda Bond

Gwenda Bond is a wordsmith.

But not the kind of pretentious literary-journal MFA type. (No offense to you pretentious literary-journal MFA types out there. You do you.)

No, she’s the kind of wordsmith that makes you soak in the setting tangibly, with just a line or two.

I rarely underline in fiction books. But in this one, I just couldn’t help it.

And I’ll be honest, of the three official Stranger Things novels, I thought I’d like this one the least.

It was the farthest removed from the story (Dr Martin Brenner was the only character, other than Eleven’s mother, who showed up in the novel).

But almost immediately, I loved all the good ones and hated (in the best way) all the bad ones.

Take Dr Brenner for example. In the show, he’s sadistic. But his sadism is more by implication. The Duffer brothers don’t spend a ton of time allowing us to feel how much we hate him.

Bond, on the other hand, establishes in the first few lines what a self-absorbed masochist he really is.

As a reader, I immediately hated him on a guttural level. And it was good.

On the other hand, the shell of the character who was Eleven’s mother in the show (Terry Ives), is quite a lovable protagonist in the book.

And so are her group of friends.

But more than that, Bond did a phenomenal job of teasing the world to come. With the hints of the coming demogorgons and the Upsidedown.

This is what really clinched it for me. It wasn’t a removed or alternate story. It was the story.

The Amazon reviews have this at a 4 out of 5 stars.

But that’s wrong. This book is a solid 5 out of 5. Easy.

And that’s just based on the storytelling. If you’re a fan of the show (me), then it’s a no-brainer. Gwenda Bond killed it.

I also read the other two in the series: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher and Runaway Max by Brenna Yovanoff.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is Hopper’s backstory. It’s after he got back from Vietnam, but before Sara died and he moved back to Hawkins. It takes place in 1977-era New York City, and he’s a detective.

It’s a good story. And I enjoyed it.

But the more it went on, the more I found myself forgetting this was the same Jim Hopper I knew from the show.

If it wasn’t for this–that the character of Hopper was just a little bit too different–this would be an excellent book.

But still, the book (and story) was really great.

Runaway Max is the third Stranger Things official novel.

While this is meant to be the backstory of Max, it’s really the story of Max. The first couple of chapters pick up a month or so before Max and her family move to Hawkins.

The plotline of the novel follows the plotline of Stranger Things Season 2, just from Max’s point of view.

The primary difference is that Runaway Max has a lot of flashbacks.

I feel like “flashbacks” is a dirty word (perhaps because they’re so often done poorly), but Brenna Yovanoff did these well.

On the whole, the book is written for a younger audience, and it feels like it. It’s hard to tell if I didn’t like the story as much, or the writing direction.

But still, not bad.


If you’re a fan of good stories, Suspicious Minds is for you.

And if you’re a die-hard Stranger Things fan, and have already read Suspicious Minds, then pick up Darkness on the Edge of Town, or maybe Runaway Max.Or, better yet, get Worlds Turned Upside Down: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Companion.

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