Monday 28 February 2022

Only A Monster

Only A Monster by Vanessa Len (Allen & Unwin) YA Fantasy RRP $22.99 ISBN 978 176 087 831 3

Reviewed by Karen Hendriks

Vanessa Len is an Australian author of Chinese-Malaysian and Maltese heritage. She is an educational editor, and has worked on everything from language learning programs to STEM resources, to professional learning for teachers. This is her debut novel and the first in a planned trilogy. She immerses the reader into a world of dark fantasy with a completely new and refreshing voice that makes this book a compelling read.

It should have been the perfect summer for Joan. She was sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, with the sixteen-year-old planning on having fun. Joan loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, she feels like everything is falling into place. But Joan learns some heart wrenching truths that change her world forever. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with hidden powers. And they are not the only monster family, there are more, and each family has their own hidden powers. It turns out Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a monster slayer, who will do anything to bring every monster down, including Joan. As Joan battles Nick and an unstable timeline, she is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll must learn to embrace her own monstrousness to not only save herself, and her family but Nick too.

Vanessa Len’s writing uses a mix of short and long sentences to vary the pace of the story, to create impact and strong visuals. The Oliver’s are really bad. Cruel. In the silence, footsteps sounded, slow and deliberate. The vulture-faced man stepped in from the passage. His shoulder-length hair was as black as a raven’s wing.

Dialogue is masterfully used to pace the story, impart information, and show internal character with a deft touch for impact. ‘What about the other tip-off, though?’ the woman said. ‘About a half-human girl with a strange power? That can’t be a coincidence.’

Another strength of her writing is her use of history that makes the worlds that she creates immersive. Ruth, clutched Joan’s arm. ‘Michelangelo’s Cupid,’ she whispered. She pointed at the marble sculpture in a corner of the room: a sleeping child, raised on a plinth. ‘That sculpture launched Michelangelo’s career.

Only A Monster, is a YA story that is unique, highly imaginative and immersive. The characters and setting take the reader to other times and places as they journey into a totally believable world of monsters. This is a highly recommended book for 13-18 years and beyond and I look forward to the next book in the series.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.