- Kay Ryan, in an interview with The Paris Review
Once again, we contemplate a novel with promising writing and some good elements, but the the author doesn't know how to bring it up to its potential. Sometimes There Really Are Monsters Under the Bed is mostly a disappointment, except for a surprise appendix. (Also the title’s too long.)
Former FBI agent Michael O’Leary left the agency in despair after failing to save the life of a little girl. Later the girl’s mother, the wealthy Annabelle Reardon, pulls him out of his self-destructive funk by giving him a job in her new foundation, devoted to rescuing children in danger – and, incidentally, marrying him. Their work is aided by a psychic empathetic gift that Annabelle possesses – she can learn a person’s secrets by touching their hand. It’s through this gift that she gets a clue to something terrible going on at an orphanage run by a wealthy philanthropist. Going to investigate, they encounter danger and uncover a horror.
There’s not enough story here, in my opinion, for what the author’s trying to do. The book is really a novella, and the story arc is too steep. Annabelle’s “gift” really does little for the story beyond providing a shortcut to giving the heroes a reason to investigate. Some real detective work would have lengthened a story that badly needs lengthening. Also there’s too much emotion here, and the characters talk about it too much. Some of the boy-girl material was moving, but more time should have been spent developing the couple’s relationship in more subtle ways.
In contrast, the short story appended to the back of the book – “Perception” – was excellent. Tight, well-drawn, terrifying, and it provided a neat twist ending that T-boned me completely. That story’s really the best reason to buy Sometimes There Really Are Monsters Under the Bed.
Some intense situations, but no really objectionable material.