Only A Monster – Vanessa Len

If you’ve been reading my Monday Minis you might think I haven’t been enjoying the books I’ve been reading (I certainly have been getting that impression from myself!) – but I’ve also been reading some true gems. I loved Only A Monster by Vanessa Len, which isn’t out for another few months. I devoured this while I was at Fantasycon, sneaking chapters whenever I could. This is addictive YA fantasy as it should be written.

Many thanks to Kate Keehan and Hodderscape for the eARC. All opinions are my own.

RELEASE DATE: 22/02/2022

STAR RATING: 4.5/5 ✶

SUMMARY: Don’t forget the rule. No one can know what you are. What we are. You must never tell anyone about monsters.

Joan has just learned the truth: her family are monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers.

And the cute boy at work isn’t just a boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to destroy her family.

To save herself and her family, Joan will have to do what she fears most: embrace her own monstrousness. Because in this story… she is not the hero. (from Hodder)

OPINIONS: Damn this is a good book. It’s exactly the kind of YA fantasy I adore. I raced through this one, sneaking chapters whenever possible and found it so addictive – I’ve been struggling to keep focused on a single book recently but this one managed to grab all my attention. I was pulled in by the V.E. Schwab comp (I’m a basic fangirl) but I stayed for the complex morality, compelling characters and fast-paced story.

I think my favourite element of the book was the magic system – the so-called monster families are able to steal time from other people, which they then can use to travel through time. And that presents them, and the readers, with interesting moral questions. Joan, the main character, isn’t truly aware of the extent of her family’s machinations and powers, and so she discovers what she and others can do along with the reader. There are still a lot of open questions by the end of the book, but it is open-ended enough that it looks like it will continue on and there’s plenty of space to continue on in later books. It’s definitely one of those books where morality isn’t quite so clear cut and no one is sure if they’re really on the right side, and I really appreciated that.

Another thing I really liked is that romance isn’t at the centre of this story. All too often YA focuses on romantic pairings over everything else, and this one doesn’t. It’s about Joan, her family and saving the future (and the present). It’s a book where teens are actually teens despite being faced with problems far bigger than themselves and overwhelming odds. Only A Monster is a good one. One of the best YA fantasies I’ve read this year, so definitely one I’d recommend.

Add Only A Monster to your Goodreads here, and pre-order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).


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