Title: The Monster of Elendhaven
Jennifer Giesbrecht
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Tor.com
Review Spoilers: Low
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I hadn’t read many of the Tor.com original publications but there was something about The Monster of Elendhaven that drew my eye. Maybe it was the dark, intriguing figure on the cover whose faceless, awkwardly shaped visage contrasts starkly with the dark, industrial world behind him. Maybe it was the promise of a dark tale that would somehow blend fantasy and horror with some unspeakable romance between monsters of different kinds.

Whatever it was, The Monster of Elendhaven is one of the oddest, darkest, and most weirdly captivating stories I’ve read this year. It’s atmospheric and haunting. The characters are terrible with horrible means and ends but yet you still want to see what they’ll do next and, day I say it, hope they’ll succeed.

Set in a fictional world with fantasy elements, The Monster of Elendhaven is first introduced to us as a nameless street urchin who discovers a dark secret about himself: he cannot die. Unnaturally shapen yet seemingly left unnoticed by the world around him, the monster takes on the name Johann and learns to take advantage of his unique abilities.

In time his path crosses with that of the unassuming but equally dangerous young man named Florian. A staple of Elendhaven high society, Florian hides a difficult past and a secret gift for sorcery that whose quest for vengeance will spell disaster for a city that may just deserve the wrath he’ll wreck upon it. But Johann and Florian won’t just be bound together by their devilish natures. They’ll find themselves locked in a deadly romance that despite their dark passions was inevitably doomed from the beginning.

The Monster of Elendhaven is an unexpectedly captivating fantasy of revenge and devastation. The ‘good guys’ are terrible people bringing death and devastation in their wake and that’s okay. It’s a very different story and a very different romance that certainly won’t be for everyone. But for those who wade into the dark, short, horrifying adventure it pays off in spades.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The Monster of Elendhaven. At first glance it wouldn’t have seemed like the sort of thing I would have read but the short, more novella nature and the promise of a very unusual story encouraged me to give it a chance. I ended up loving it and read two or three chapters a night until it was done. (No, it’s not your usual bedtime fair but the short chapters made it easy to read and enjoy.)

I loved the shorter nature of the story and after reading The Monster of Elendhaven I’m totally sold on reading more of the Tor.com originals. This was a perfect first experience and I can’t wait to read more. And I encourage folks to read The Monster of Elendhaven because it’s dark, atmospheric read is perfect for fans of creepy fiction. Horror fans will love this one!

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