The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street

Written by Lauren Oliver
Review by J. Lynn Else

Monsters. Cordelia Clay knows all about them. From diggles to dragons to filches, monsters of all variety stay protected from the residents of Boston and the rest of the outside world by living in the overcrowded Clay household. Monsters are some of Cordelia’s only friends. Despite living during “Hard Times” in the early 1900s, Cordelia is happy the way things are. Then one day Cordelia wakes up to discover the monsters along with her father are gone. With scarce money and even scarcer clues, Cordelia and new acquaintance Gregory will set out on a quest for answers. She’ll need all of her monster knowledge to track where they’ve gone and what happened the night they disappeared.

Oliver’s story explores the construct of monsters in the world. While quite the monster expert, Cordelia has been sheltered from regular society. The people she meets cause her to question the name “monster” given to so many creatures she loves, all because they look and act different from others. She’s accompanied by a few compelling creatures who make things interesting along the journey too. I found the places well-described and the characters enjoyable to get to know. Cordelia’s adventure is anchored by her developing friendships and Oliver’s whimsical writing style. This is highly recommended for fans of magical creatures and daring middle-grade adventure. And don’t worry about feeling lost in a bevy of unfamiliar creatures, either. An abbreviated guide to monsters is included!