by Matteo L. Cerilli
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Pub Date 04 Jun 2024 | Archive Date 04 Jun 2024
Penguin Random House Canada, Tundra Books
Chuck Warren died tragically at the old abandoned mill, but Paz Espino knows it was no accident — there's a monster under the town, and she's determined to kill it before anyone else gets hurt. She'll need the help of her crew — inseparable friends, bound by a childhood pact stronger than diamonds, distance or death — to hunt it down. But she's up against a greater force of evil than she ever could have imagined.
With shifting timeframes and multiple perspectives, Lockjaw is a small-town ghost story, where monsters living and dead haunt the streets, the homes and the minds of the inhabitants. For readers of Wilder Girls and The Haunted, this trans YA horror book by an incredible debut author will grab you and never let you go.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 21 members
As I read Lockjaw I kept thinking to myself 'oh this is so SMART!' Reading was like...doing a really satisfying puzzle, or a complicated knitting pattern that comes together and you go 'oh I see what you did there!' I loved the way things kept coming together, the way that every word and every little hint we got seemed to deliberate and yet fit so well - I never felt like I wasn't understanding what was happening, i was just enjoying the experience.
There are so many things I loved about this book that I can't quite get them all straight - the experience itself was one (sitting in the back room racing through the last 100 or so pages, entirely engrossed) but there was also the setting - the perfect encapsulation of the 'burbs with the sepia-toned nostalgia turned on its head. I'd read descriptions of things that in another book would be presented just like a fond memory but worked so well to heighten the sinister feeling of Brindlington. The two sides of the comfort-discomfort coin worked so well!
And the characters oh my... the way they all come together and apart, the way we get to see all their relationships, to know them all at different stages throughout the book. I was blown away by how real every character felt, how sometimes I'd get a really strong sense of a character from a brief description.
Lockjaw is a book I'm going to enthusiastically recommend to everyone I know, and one I know I'll want to return to again and again.
You say trans horror and I say where can I get it? Lockjaw is an absolutely incredible debut that I could not put down. It was equal parts horrifying, intense, and captivating. I can't wait to see what else Matteo L. Cerilli comes out with if this is his starting point.
Thank you Netgalley and Tundra Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
"Lockjaw" by Matteo L. Cerilli is a gripping and haunting YA horror debut that delves into themes of identity, revenge, and the sinister secrets lurking beneath the surface of a small town. If you are looking for a combination of an age-appropriate “It” and “Stranger Things,” then this book is for you, especially if you want to experience nostalgia of riding on bikes with your friends as children and getting into all sorts of mischief.
Set in the town of Bridlington, the story follows Paz Espino, a young woman who refuses to turn a blind eye to the injustices and prejudices that plague her community. When a tragic accident claims the life of a local boy, Paz is convinced that there's more to the story than meets the eye. With her friends by her side, she embarks on a mission to uncover the truth and confront the darkness that lurks beneath the town's surface.
Cerilli's narrative unfolds through multiple timelines and perspectives, weaving together a complex and atmospheric tale that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. This is a difficult task to accomplish in writing, but Cerilli’s masterful writing is able to tell a compelling story with these different timeslines/perspectives, and I never found myself getting confused or lost, which often happens when an author attempts this kind of storytelling. From the eerie small-town setting to the chilling encounters with supernatural forces, the story drips with suspense and tension from beginning to end. I really enjoyed the setting and supernatural aspect in this book; I think they were well-written and were extremely engaging. Like I mentioned earlier, this book gave me “It” vibes, and I absolutely loved it.
What sets "Lockjaw" apart from other similar stories is its exploration of marginalized identities and the ways in which small towns can disregard those who don't fit into their narrow ideals. Through characters like Paz and her friends, Cerilli crafts a compelling narrative that tackles issues of belonging, trauma, and the power of friendship. As readers, we get to learn more about the self-identity of the different characters. There is more than 1 trans character in this novel, which means you get to learn more about these characters’ different perspectives and experiences, really showing that gender is a spectrum.
The prose is evocative and immersive, drawing you into the claustrophobic atmosphere of Bridlington and the haunting events that unfold within its borders. Cerilli's writing is both gritty and beautiful, capturing the quiet yet sinister nature of the town and its inhabitants. The supernatural aspect was really fun, and I had such a great time reading this book, from exploring the supernatural to the engaging character relationships that are developed throughout the book.
Overall, "Lockjaw" is a masterfully told tale that will leave you haunted long after they've turned the last page. With its richly drawn characters, spine-tingling atmosphere, and twisty reveals, it's a must-read for fans of YA horror. I can't wait to read more from Cerilli.