Schoolteacher Laura Freeman has a nervous breakdown and ends up in a psychiatric hospital. When Mystical Creatures Attack! is the story of her recovery, told through letters, emails, student assignments, stories, an advice column, a journal, and even a cookbook. Side stories focus on the aspirations of two of her students, Janice Gibbs and Cody Splunk.
It’s a quirky, clever format; maybe a bit distracting. It reads like a series of shorts that are interconnected, but not exactly cohesive. I did feel I had to work a little too hard to keep up with what was happening.
Dark humor and a healthy dose of social satire cover tough topics such as mental illness, suicide, postpartum depression, abortion, poverty, questioning faith, the state of education, the value of life, and finding peace and happiness. Sounds like a lot for a 200-page book, right? It was; I always felt slightly off keel. Maybe that was the point? Regardless, even though the book races through all of these issues, it delves into each one just enough to give readers something more to think over.
I wasn’t blown away by this one, but I definitely liked it; a good, solid “like.” The format is a lot of fun and makes for a fast-paced read. The ending was pretty poetic, but wow, what a ride!