A book is open and a cup of coffee sits next to it. The cover of Only a Monster is displayed and the title says My Book Review

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

My book review for Only a Monster
Book cover for Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

I loved this book. Only a Monster captivated me from the start and I couldn’t put it down until all the words were read.

Here’s the blurb:

“Only a monster would kill a hero. Right?

Every family has its secrets, but the summer Joan Chang-Hunt goes to stay with her gran in London, she learns hers is bigger than most. The Hunts are one of twelve families in London with terrifying hidden powers.

Joan is half-monster. And what’s more her summer crush Nick isn’t just a cute boy – he’s hiding a secret as well; a secret that places Joan in terrible danger.

When the monsters of London are attacked, Joan is forced on the run with the ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family who are sworn enemies of her own. Joan is drawn deeper into a world that simmers with hostilities, alliances and secrets. And her rare and dangerous power means she’s being hunted. 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.”

What I liked about Only a Monster

When writing fantasy, magic has to have consequences. In Only a Monster, Vanessa Len’s consequence of the use of magic is clear and so bad, it is the reason her main character Joan, is being hunted. I liked that it’s not a side story. Instead, it is the basis for the story that will define Joan’s true self.  

Also, Vanessa uses a dialogue technique that emphasises her character’s determination in a way I found effective and refreshing. Here’s an example:

“ ‘No!’ Joan gasped. No, no, no. There was a knife….”  And  “’Please,’ Joan said. ‘Please. I need to know.’”

The characters are brilliantly written and the story is crafted well. There was not a moment when I thought any of the characters or the story were weak.

This is a book I will read again, just for the sheer pleasure of the storytelling by Vanessa Len.


I bought my copy of the book at the Sydney Writers Festival but you can get yours from Amazon or Booktopia or any other good book store.

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