REVIEW | Only A Monster | Vanessa Len | Monsters #1

I honestly requested this one based off the tagline, ‘Only a monster can kill a hero’. I’m a sucker for villainous characters, as you can tell from my reviews of All of Us Villains and Beyond the Ruby Veil. This book wasn’t what I expected, more good-guy-monster than monster-monster, but I had so much fun reading it. Once I got started I read the whole thing in one day, kept entertained enough to chase through each page, though unfortunately the ending didn’t really land with me.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.

Character - 8
Atmosphere - 7
Writing - 6
Plot - 4
Intrigue - 5
Logic - 5
Enjoyment - 6

Rating: 5.86 / 3 stars

About the book:

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . . she is not the hero.

What did I think?

I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I did not expect it to be a wild chase through time – time travelling monsters? genius – and I didn’t expect to have so much fun with a warm-hearted monster girl who was desperate to be good against a villainous hero. The writing is pretty simplistic, but I didn’t mind that. It was easy to read and I had a lot of fun with it. I liked Joan’s character. She’s young and idealistic, coming to terms with her family being completely different from what she believed – and discovering that she is completely different from what she ever believed. That development was amazing, and I was really pleased with the character arc that Joan went through. I also loved the magical worldbuilding. The way that the magical powers work, and the different powers for each family of monsters, was really interesting and I’d love to know more about the different families if we get more books in this universe.

Unfortunately, this book lost a fair amount of points from me in the last few chapters. In vague terms, the ending felt a little cheap and a significant plot point came out of absolutely nowhere. It’s a shame because I would rate the first seventy-five percent of the book four stars but I couldn’t rate the whole book that overall. I will be reading the sequel because I’m intrigued to see where we will go from this ending, but my expectations are a little lower than they could have been.

The next paragraph contains spoilers!

My biggest criticism with this book? Until the very end, the romantic arc felt completely unnecessary. Even now, at the end, the love triangle felt completely pointless. It was very… YA. We’ve got the mean-at-first, grouchy monster boy and the sunshine hero boy. But the hero boy is indirectly responsible for the murder her entire family in like, chapter five, and we’re supposed to believe that the love triangle makes sense? The romance between Aaron and Joan didn’t really feel like it was based on anything, but I liked it a hell of a lot more than the romance between Nick and Joan. I absolutely hate the destined star-crossed lovers thing, and there was a moment where the book said (paraphrased) ‘they say the hero has one weakness. once he was in love with a girl’ and I rolled my eyes so hard that I nearly strained something. I understand why that romantic arc was present by the time we got to the end, but ugh. Aaron forgot her and Nick was ‘unmade’ and I just wanted to see Joan become powerful and confident. I guess to me ‘it never happened’ feels cheap and dissatisfying, and we didn’t get to see what happened to Aaron.

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Release Date: 17th February 2022

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