Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

monstrousBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2015
  • Edition, First
  • Description: Hardback; 424 pages ; 22 cm  
  • Interest Level: 5-8 & YA
  • Summary: “Reminiscent of Frankenstein and tales by the Brothers Grimm, this debut novel stands out as a compelling, original story that has the feel of a classic.

The city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and all live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark. Night is when Kymera comes to the city, with a cloak disguising her wings, the bolts in her neck, and her spiky tail. Her mission is to rescue the girls of Bryre. Despite Kym’s caution in going secretively, a boy named Ren sees and befriends her . . . but what he knows will change her world forever.”  Retrieved from publisher at https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062272713/monstrous  

  • ISBN: 978-0-06-227271-3
  • Subjects:
    • Mythical Beasts – Fiction
    • Magic – Fiction
    • Fantasy – Fiction
    • Good vs. Evil – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: I am a monster; I know that.  But even a monster can be good, can do good, and that’s what I’m going to do.

Plot Summary:  Kymera wakes up to the tear-stained face of a man she comes to call father but who is in reality, her creator.  He has assembled her from bit and pieces of animals, creatures, and a girl he says was his daughter.  She is a monster, a Frankstein-like construct of unrelated parts but she is also an innocent who he trains to help him in his fight against an evil wizard.  She uses her wings to carry her to the city of Bryre where other little girls are dying due to the wizard’s curse.  She uses her spiked tail to put the guards and girls to sleep so that she can fly the girls to safety.  And she uses her strength to carry them back to her little home in the woods where her ‘father’ cures them and sends them to safety in another city, Belladoma.  But things are not as they seem, because her ‘father’ is the evil wizard and she was his first child victim.  The girls are not safe in a beautiful city by the sea but in terrible danger from a mad, evil king who has bought them to be sacrificed to another, less pleasant monster.  In the end it’s Kymera, a monster, who must face the real monster and save the kingdom.

Critical Evaluation:  Reviews for this book vary from very positive to not so much.  I found many of the complaints to be valid.  The story is a bit overlong and the failure of Kymera to realize that she is being used by the wizard is a little annoying after a while.  But overall, this is a really nice read.  The writing style is very effective, particularly in terms of character development.  Kymera is a true innocent.  She believes everything she is told, which is a trait it is later revealed by another character to have belonged to her original self as well. The author also manages to show you the other characters from Kymera’s point of view which makes it easier to accept the fact that she can’t see her creator for the monster he really is.  Some critics suggest the book moved too slow and takes too long to get to the point of the story, but I didn’t find it to be the case.  The character behaved in a way that was true to her character in every sense of the word.  It may have been frustrating for some readers but she wasn’t a brain surgeon before she was parsed into bits to be made into a creature.  She was a naïve, sweet, not at all worldly, little girl.  And at her monstrous core she remained that person through the story.  That is good writing and excellent character construction.

Author’s Brief Bio:  MarcyKate Connelly is an author and arts administrator living in New England with her husband and pugs. She’s a caffeine addict and voracious reader. Her MG fantasy novels, Monstrous and Ravenous, are available now from HarperCollins Children’s Books.  She has a new book, Shadow Weaver, coming soon.

Genre Designation: Fantasy

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • Prejudice and bias toward those who are physically challenged

Book Talk Ideas:  What is a monster?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:

Reviews:

Why this book was selected. The story is compelling and intriguing, and Skottie Young did the cover art, which is beautiful.

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