Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
Published on April 14, 2022
Reviewed by Jayde Valosin
Joan is a monster. Not like a giant spider or the kind that hides in closets, as she once told her grandmother. No, Joan is the kind that can steal life from humans and use it to travel across time. Still reeling from the shock of finding this out, Joan comes face to face with the fabled hero, a character from monster myths that's supposed to be able to slay all monsters. He takes the form of her summer crush, Nick. After a bloody battle that claims the lives of both of their families, Joan must work with the arrogant Aaron Oliver to go back in time and stop the massacre from occurring. It feels like everyone's keeping secrets, and Joan realizes that her task is going to be more difficult (and dangerous) than she ever imagined.
Only a Monster by Vanessa Len is the first contemporary fantasy novel in a planned trilogy. This book moves quickly, with a lot of action packed into its pages. The magic system is easy to follow, as is the time travel aspect of the book. I appreciate that the author uses familiar tropes (time travel, heroes and villains, etc.) and approaches them in a new and unique way. There are some seriously heart wrenching moments that stuck with me after reading, particularly between Tom and Jamie, who readers meet through the course of the novel. Fans of contemporary fantasy, or even those who enjoy "twisted" or "fractured" fairytales, will almost certainly love this title.