Book Review: THE MONSTROUS CHILD by Francesca Simon

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: possibly?

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE MONSTROUS CHILD: title in white before the star studded images of a falling girl

Before you reject me, before you hate me, remember: I never asked to be Hel’s queen.

Meet Hel, teenager and Queen of the Dead. Daughter of a giantess and a god. Sister to Fenrir the wolf and Jormungand the snake. This is her testament.

Hel never wanted to be queen, but being a normal teenager wasn’t an option either. Now she’s stuck ruling the underworld. For eternity. She doesn’t want your pity. But she does demand you listen. It’s only fair you hear her side of the story…

It didn’t have to be like this. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I devoured THIS MONSTROUS CHILD on the train (3 hours sitting still because of downed trees!) It was the perfect thing to while the time away.

The best part of this book is the voice. I loved it, and it’s what makes it so addictive – this snarky, childish goddess who is so tired of life and the hand she’s been dealt. I loved her dismissive attitude towards humans, and the way it comes through in the direct address to the audience. Her “history of the world” was such a brilliant chapter, as it has things we’d consider good (like antibiotics) as bad, because the reduce the expansion of her realm.

Hel is a character often looked over in norse mythology – and most awareness of her comes from the MCU, but that is hardly accurate. Instead, this book gives her centre stage and explores the awful life she’s saddled with.

Apparently this book is Francessca Simon’s first YA book, but Goodreads says it’s the third book in a series. It reads like a MG standalone. It’s a very darkly humorous voice, but it’s a very young voice. There is some darker content, but I really think it would have been more appropriate to be marketed as MG.

For a good chunk of the book, Hel’s primary motivation was her love for Baldur, but there was not set up for those feelings. It was insta-love the chapter he was introduced because he showed her some kindness. There was nothing to substantiate it, no development, and yet it was supposed to be an obsessive love that lasted centuries?

The ending felt a little flat, the fault of the mythology mostly. There isn’t really anything for her to do before the epilogue. She’s just there… and helps the gods? But once the end times come, then she gets her moment.

So yes, this book has a few flaws, but I really enjoyed it. I

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