Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Crescentville Haunting by MN Bennet. I stumbled across this author and his book on Twitter, and it sounded intriguing. You all know how much of a sucker I am for YA coming-of-age stories with bi boys. So, seeking out an ARC of this one was the obvious choice… 🙂 Crescentville Haunting will be available on March 27, 2023.
Determined to pass junior year, Logan won’t let Henry distract him—much. Logan’s focusing on all things human, which means his swoony vampire ex-boyfriend will have to file his own fangs for a change. When he goes to the school bonfire and runs into Henry, wandering into the woods seems like a great escape. Until he’s bitten by a wicked Crone with some twisted magical munchies.
Logan is certain his ex-free human future is done when he’s dragged off to a scientific institution for study. There, he’s presented with an opportunity to keep his life, family, and future. All he has to do is stick to human ideology, since all things paranormal are illegal. But complications arise when the Crone begins to haunt him and Logan realizes that if he wants to get his life back, he has to navigate his lingering feelings for Henry.
With the Crone set on devouring him and the institution ready to obliterate him for any missteps, Logan must decide between pursuing the human future his family wants—one that he thought he wanted too—or the chance to embrace Henry, even if the world isn’t ready.
***Thank you to the author for providing an advanced copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
This was such a fun read. It had lovable characters, inventive world-building, and a compelling coming-of-age story. The writing was easy to read, and the pacing was steady throughout the story. I never felt bored and read the entire thing in three sittings because I always wanted to see what would happen next. I really enjoyed the author’s ability to bring all the action to life. There were moments that had me cringing in disgust and others that left me with chills.
The world-building was probably my favorite thing about the novel. It took all the usual supernatural creatures and made them into something new, while also maintaining a feeling of familiarity. The classification system was interesting, and I liked getting to know each of the different types of creatures. I honestly wanted even more information about the history of the Vices, Sins, and the Crone, but it probably would have bogged the story down too much. Maybe one day we’ll get an appendix or a compendium of some sort with all the different creatures and their histories? I’d totally be down to read it!
I was honestly a bit surprised by the trajectory of the plot. The book blurb made it sound like the romance was integral to the story, but it seemed like more of an afterthought. Logan and Henry spent very little time together, and there were times when Henry was avoidant of Logan that didn’t really make sense to me. Don’t get me wrong… I liked the two of them together. I just wish it had been developed a little more with a bit more page time for the romance. That being said, I enjoyed reading Logan’s coming-of-age story and his struggle to figure out his identity and how to put his life back together after his vision of himself and his future drastically changed. I also loved how the book was incredibly queer without making queerness the explicit subject of the book. The queer themes were subsumed under the facade of the supernatural, and it allowed for a critique of oppressive systems and the exploration of potentially traumatic content (conversion therapy, negative family reactions) in a way that was both entertaining and emotionally resonant without being in your face about the real life trauma of it all. It was great escapism, but I also think many queer individuals will see a piece of themselves in the story.
I loved the characters so much. Poor Logan was just trying to get his life back on track, but everything seemed to be against him. I felt so sorry for him, but I was also inspired by his determination to make a future for himself despite all the horrible things happening to him. Henry was an absolute sweetheart who just wanted to save everyone. I wish there had been a bit more of him in the book, but I loved the optimistic snark we did get. The rest of the cast was great too, especially Esteban the himbo troll. He lit up every scene he graced with his presence. The villain, the Crone, was disturbingly evil and quite grotesque, but it did feel a little one note, and her identity was very predictable. This was one area where I wished there had been some more history and a bit more context for her actions. However, she seemed to suggest a history with the doctor and police, or other oppressive forces like them. So, I am curious to see if she was turned into the monster by so many people making her out to be one…
All in all, if you are looking for a queer supernatural story with fascinating world-building, emotional depth, a bi male main character, and a sunshine vampire love interest who wants to save the world, this story is for you. I definitely recommend it. Therefore, I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!