Review: Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (Monsters #1)

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (Monsters #1)About this book

(blurb from Goodreads)

“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.”

Genre:  Fantasy, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Fiction

My Thoughts:

Firstly, can we take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous cover art?

To keep this review relatively spoiler-free, it is quite challenging to not give too much away.  The book blurb is setting the scene quite well – so I don’t have too much to add to that.  Young Joan finds out that her family are in fact “monsters” – and an entire secret underground society opens to her.

“Monsters look like giant spiders,” Joan said. “Or like robots.” She’d seen enough cartoons to know. Gran sometimes told jokes without smiling. Maybe this was one of those times.

But Gran’s eyes weren’t shiny with a held-in joke. They were serious. “That’s pretend monsters,” she said. “Real monsters look like me and you.”

She is introduced to various rivalrous families, each with their own secret power.  She now must learn to navigate this brand-new, previously unseen world, learn the rules of engagement and the family histories.  She also knows that her own unique power will be granted to her, but she’s got no idea what it is.

“I mean it,” she said. “You’re dead.”

He gave her his familiar solemn smile, the one that he’d given her all the time at the house. “Aren’t we all,” he said. “Somewhere on the timeline.”

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (Monsters #1)I throughly enjoyed the world building, as well as the unique magic system and time travel.  I feel that I am missing a bit more character building and development and I was hoping for more romance.

“…if people belonged together in the true timeline, then our timeline tries to repair itself by bringing them together.”

What did annoy me immensely was the constant use of the word “monster”.  I personally think it is too generic, too non-descriptive, too elementary. My idea of a monster is almost cartoonish, so I’m sure that is not what is meant in this instance. I want to know more about the various “monster” tribes and families, and I hope that it will follow in the next two books (this is the first in a trilogy).  And yes, as a YA book we don’t expect a lot of violence, but being a “monster”, I was hoping for a bit more darkness, a bit more about the “terrifying powers”.

I enjoyed the following elements:

  • magical underground society
  • “half-blood” character
  • time-travelling
  • YA urban fantasy
  • moral dilemmas
  • unique magic system

“Only a Monster” is the first in the “Monsters” trilogy, so I’m keen to see where the rest of the story is going! Especially after the ending!

RRR (Roelia Reads Rating) 3.5/5

Thank you to Jonathan Ball Publishers for this review copy.

About the author:  https://www.vanessalen.com/