Completely Full from Delicious Monsters

Completely Full from Delicious Monsters

by Brittany

Sooo, I’ve been eager to sink my teeth into Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury since before it was released. I’ve finallyyyyy been able to read it; and well, it is more than worth the wait.

Where do I even start?

This is my first time reading any of Liselle Sambury’s work and it won’t be the last. She has a way of meditatively drawing you into the setting of a scene until you are almost unified with the plot, then boom you don’t know who’s more spooked: you or the character in the scene? This story is rightly a horror in my perspective and is driven by the unraveling of the tightly knitted untruths and omissions woven by Grace, Daisy’s mother, and those who have encountered her. We follow Daisy’s story from two timelines and two points of view – Daisy’s and Brittney’s. Brittney is in the present day, a decade after the cascade of events that sculpt Daisy’s fate at her mom’s inherited and very haunted mansion. Brittney is determined to excavate Daisy’s truth of what happened at the mansion along with the swept-over truths of others in her Haunted web series while she unknowingly discovers her own. Their lives parallel profoundly throughout the plot – and it honestly brought me to tears to read.

She has a way of meditatively drawing you into the setting of a scene until you are almost unified with the plot, then boom you don’t know who’s more spooked: you or the character in the scene? 

Daisy and Brittney both have extremely unhealthy and even toxic relationships with their mothers. Their mothers are constantly manipulating them for their own gain in some way, constantly hiding the truths about who and why they are as they are which affects Daisy and Brittney in really disheartening ways. Daisy’s mother, Grace, is easily one of my least favorite characters in the book, despite her character arc. Brittney’s mother is a minor character and so despite how horrible of a mother she is to Britt (LOL at me giving her this nickname), I wasn’t able to form an emotional attachment.

One of my favorite themes within the book is connection. Though there are no traditional romantic connections within the story, there are several relationships that I perceived as pure romantic friendships – two people deeply knowing each other, willingly going and growing with each other, and sharing joy in the simplicity of each other’s beings. There are also these moments of acceptance within a couple very strained relationships that didn’t necessarily result in closeness but did allow for freedom of expansion (for the parties involved who wanted it) from the bounds of those connections. I appreciated the realness of that as well. Within the story’s most important connections, there are aspects of respect, honesty, clear communication, and physical closeness that continuously develop with the plot to allow them to reach whatever pinnacles those relationships need. It was satisfying to watch the maturation of certain characters and their welcoming to things once foreign to them as children. With one character, I relate very much to being a child unfamiliar to loving physical affection, and like them, it is also a pass-down from my mother’s upbringing. It wasn’t until very recently that I have begun confidently asking for and embracing the enjoyment of physical affection with those whom I love. Much like this character, this is an unlocking that I’m proud of along with other aspects of connection that I am developing and welcoming in as I grow.

There is a slew of content warnings, and of them, I found myself most sensitive to the themes of sexual assault, childhood neglect, and gaslighting. In a scene, where a character confided in another about the sexual violation that happened to them from a partner, the confidant responded with, “’Some men are good at taking things from you and making you think that you gave them up.’” And it made me think of myself and other women I’ve conversed with on topics like this, where the common theme of denial in it being a big deal meets the fear of “making it” a big deal because… well, if you “made it” a big deal and it still continued then it was a big deal. And then…what? And it made me mournful of how normalized it is for some men to behave so selfishly and equally mournful at how fucked up it is that the patriarchal society we live in is what conditions innocent boys to often grow to become these (knowingly and most times, unknowingly) selfishly behaving men. Sambury paints a vivid picture of the variety of ways people navigate these violations, and you are reminded of how the pain of one affects the whole.

As the knotted threads of Grace’s secrets untangle so does the mystery of the mansion, one by one, fact by fact, event by event. I appreciate how each mystery has a reveal, leaving none unresolved, and each situation has a purpose. Each major character has a story (well, minus Jayden) that causes them to present themselves how they do. The resolution of each mystery is timed perfectly and aligns with the haunted-ness of the mansion. I appreciated most how Sambury weaves in relevant everyday issues like the fact of “Forgotten Black Girls” (black girls go missing, are still missing, and these stories are not covered or prioritized), narcissistic parental abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual assault, body shaming, and abandonment. And they all fit the with the storyline and character developments. Which, to me, is a true talent and further actualized the plot.

In my opinion, the lineup of characters is pretty great – I was sold on every character except Ivy. Her how and why really threw me off, and I know I said the timing of each reveal is perfect, but Ivy’s is a bit crammed (and forced IMO). Sambury does, however, do well in answering every question I jotted down regarding Ivy but it felt like just that. Answers. Nothing that satiated my inquiring reader soul (my annotation list is wild). Despite not believing her how and why enough, I did develop a liking for her though. Kingston made me smile a lot. He is so gentle and sweet, sometimes a little cheesy but cute. It’s giving could have been my teenage crush if I was living in Timmins. And Brittney always gave me a good laugh. Her and Jayden made me happy. Now, Daisy… obviously, not my least favorite, but not a favorite either. I admit, there are pieces of her that mirror myself and ion like det. The constant martyring and people pleasing for people that drag her through the mud made me gag, and her pessimistic attitude, though I empathetically understood, was annoying to me… and as I just said, a mirror to myself.

Overall, a great plot that I was easily invested in from start to finish. I jumped at the creepy parts, teared at the inspirational parts, got frustrated at the unagreeable actions of some of the characters. My emotions were evoked, OK. I give it 4.3 stars, withholding the .7 only for Ivy. Definitely will be awaiting Liselle Sambury’s 2024 release, Tender Beasts, which is a Sci-Fi, psycho-thriller with some paranormal aspects but isn’t a horror.



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