'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 21 February 2022

Review: Only a Monster

Joan Chang-Hunt is spending the summer with her grandmother, cousins, aunt and uncle in London. 

She’s volunteering at the historical Holland House. She’s met a boy. Life is good.

And then everything changes.

Joan’s grandmother has always been… different. In fact, all her relatives on her late mother’s side have always had quirks. 

But Joan had no idea what they were — what SHE is — until the night she discovers her own abilities — discovers that, like her family, she is a monster of London.

Forced to face a new and confronting reality, Joan must come to terms with what she truly is. But when a secret organisation is hunting you, your loved ones are in grave danger and you don’t WANT to be a monster, it’s hard to make lemonade out of the few lemons you have.

I’ve been light on the plot description here, but I’ve done it on purpose as I don’t want to give away any of the secrets and spoil this whirlwind of a novel. It’s such an immersive and addictive read. It’s something you’ll want to experience for yourself — every mystery, every plot twist, every secret.

I haven’t read a novel quite like this before. It has all the elements you want: mystery, love, fantasy, action, adventure. But it’s all spun from a new and different perspective — from the perspective of the monster, the baddie, the one who isn’t the hero and isn’t there to save the world.

All the characters are rich and deep in this novel. Each has strengths and each has flaws. They’ll make you question right and wrong, and which side you should be on. They will make you think about actions and consequences and the hard choices we are faced with throughout our lives.

If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy YA read, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Only a Monster. It is fresh, addictive and oh so satisfying.

P.s — this is Aussie author Vanessa Len’s first YA novel (and what a debut!), and I’m excited to reveal that my investigation of her website revealed reference to the monsters’ 'trilogy'. I really, really hope for my sake (and yours) I know exactly what this means!

Title: Only a Monster
Author: Vanessa Len
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, $22.99
Publication Date: February 2022
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760878313
For ages: 13+
Type: Young Adult Fiction