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.
Truly, the title of this book was basically all I needed to know to know I wanted to read it. A book with monsters as the main characters? Heck yes, that sounds amazing. And there’s monster slayers and monster families that hate each other and a main character who is realizing that she is not a hero. It sounded incredible. Trigger warnings: torture, violence, blood, racist microaggressions
This book is freaking incredible. It takes every popular trope and storyline and flips it completely on its head. It’s monstrous and dark, and completely amazing.
It sort of feels like an early/mid 2010s book, and I don’t think in a bad way. It feels like it’s taking everything that those books were, and doing the complete opposite. And dang does it do that well. It stars a a biracial Asian main character, a girl who is not the hero. It focuses on monsters, not the heroes, on the morally gray, not the morally good. It’s absolutely fascinating, and this book makes it work.
I was not expecting to fall in love with the characters like I did. I was fully expecting to hate, or not like, one of them and I came out of it loving him. I loved Joan, and her determination to save her family. I loved her grit, her perseverance, and everything she yearned for. She might not be a hero, but she is a spectacular monster. I loved Ruth and her humor and her love for Joan. I loved Tom and Jamie and that is all I can say about them because of spoilers. I also loved Frankie, who is a bulldog companion who is treated like the royalty she is!
The lore behind the monsters and their families was incredible is well. There is such a wealth of knowledge behind any of them, and this book only takes a peak at it. I loved seeing just a tiny look at what this entire world has to offer, because it was freaking fascinating.
I did not think I would like the time travel aspect of this book. It’s just not something I really like. But, it became one of my favorite parts of this book. It takes a darker approach to it, and it’s completely eerie. Again, there is so much lore behind the monster world and how it is set up and the kinds of secrets it keeps even from the people who inhabit it.
I will say this this book is a fantastic start to a trilogy. It builds, but it also gives a tiny peak into the vastness of the rest of the world. There’s strings that are dangled just out of reach, and it makes you eager for the next book. I know it’s weird to be talking about the next books when I’m reviewing the first one, but I seriously thought that this was worth mentioning since it was so well crafted.
I will say, that the only thing I didn’t completely love about this book was that sometimes the writing felt a little bit awkward in some places. But, I did read an ARC, and it’s totally a personal thing!
Overall, I completely loved this book. It dark and eerie, but there is also so much love in it. There is a completely fascinating world, and characters I really want to hug. I love it so much.