The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff: Book Review

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Monsters of Templeton

3 Stars

Wilhelmina “Willie” Upton has just returned to her hometown, having made something of a mess of her life while away at grad school in Stanford. Then her mom drops a bomb on her that has her scrambling through family history to solve a mystery.

Maybe I’ve read too many books lately where the storyline goes back and forth between the present and the past, but this book just didn’t grab me. I didn’t particularly care for any character too much, except for Vi and Clarissa, and they didn’t have huge roles.

The whole mystery part, really almost the whole obvious point of the book, just felt forced. Why didn’t Willie’s mom just tell her what she wanted her to know? Okay, I kind of know the answer to that one, but still… Why didn’t Lauren start at the most obvious place instead of just floundering around for 300 pages? The easy answer seemed pretty obvious from the beginning. Oh, I’m not going to say I guessed any details, or where the historical answer would lead, but as far as how far back in time to find a thread that led to answers? I figured that one out.

There was some magical realism, with a ghost living in the house and the question of a monster in the lake. I get that the monster was supposed to say something about secrets all families/people have buried. The ghost was pretty cool in a mostly-benign, background kind of way, until there was just one silly thing that turned me off.

I think others will probably enjoy this a little more than I did. I really have a feeling that this might have been a case of the wrong book at the wrong time. But still, this wasn’t bad, it just didn’t make much of a real impression on me.

Reviewed August 27, 2009

Read an excerpt.

Find author Lauren Groff on her website.

Buy The Monsters of Templeton at


Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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