Talon - Dr. Monsterjunkie, in the Maine College Biology Department - is an expert on all creatures thought to be extinct, collecting and housing them on the grounds of MJ Manor. It's his vocation to protect these specimens, keeping them from the prying eyes of the world, which could bring harm to them, intentionally or not. Dr. Monsterjunkie was, by trade, a cryptozoologist.
Crow and Indigo, teenagers at the local high school, took a lot of abuse for being so different from the "norm." Bullies made fun of both for their goth style and Crow for his shyness - not to mention the both of them lived in a mysterious home tucked away from view. Legend had it something dark went on there, which did the two of them no good.
Crow's nemesis called themselves "The Maine Gang," made up of classmates Todd, Edgar and Larry. Their mission: to gain entrance to MJ Manor, for purposes of finding out what really was going on there. Little did they realize what lay behind included a Pterodactyl named Periwinkle and a Sasquatch named Beauregard... to name just two of the protected creatures.
Until Pandora, the stunningly gorgeous mother of the two teens, brings an exotic owl to a class career day, the other kids know nothing at all about the sorts of animals kept safely tucked away. Also on this day, the children meet two new people in town: Ed Hodges, a widower, and his teenaged daughter, Winter. Ed's passion was bringing teenage bullying to the fore, in an attempt to diminish the harm it brings. This meeting also served to introduce Indigo to her new best friend, when she met Winter Hodges.
This is the novel's turning point, when the teens' classmates get an inkling what they're missing. Though they treat Crow and Indigo with more respect, their desire to see the other creatures grew almost unbearable. Clearly, the only way to stop their pestering was to show them, once and for all.
But was that really the best idea? And would it bring the bullying to an end?
You'll have to read the book to find out where things go from there. It will keep you interested, invested in caring about these characters, through the end. Erik Shein has created a fascinating world of otherworldly beasts, cared for by an eccentric but close and loving family. The stage is set for adventure.
Very highly recommended for pre- to early teen readers and a valuable addition to fiction teaching kindness and understanding in a way young people won't find "preachy." Unique and compelling, The Monsterjunkies would make excellent summer reading.
- Lisa Guidarini, Amazon Vine, Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) judge and member, National Book Critics Circle