School was a scary enough place to be stranded during the Christmas holidays without some starey-eyed imp like Regan banging on about man-eaters and things that go rawr in the woods.
Nash’s brother is missing in the depths of Columbia. With her parents away that means she’s left at Bathory School for Girls over the Christmas holidays. She’s worried about her brother but she doesn’t mind school so much, she’s eagerly awaiting the announcement that she’ll be made the next Head Girl. Yet the nearby town is alive with rumours of an attack. The Beast of Bathory has killed once more! Is this just wild imagination, or is there something out there on the moors, waiting to pick them off one by one?
I love a good boarding school setting and the addition of a Beast of Dartmoor style myth made Monster sound right up my street. Out of all of Britain’s myths, the one I’m mostly likely to believe is that there’s big cats living wild on some of our moors. I found it an easy and perfectly enjoyable read but it just didn’t excel at anything.
It was a little lacking in tension and wasn’t particularly scary. It takes a long time to get going, setting up the reason for Nash being left at school over Christmas and introducing the cast. Yet this time isn’t really spent building up suspicion. I felt her brother’s disappearance should have had more relevance. It was quite built up to be just used as the reason for her being there.
The place is fundamentally flawed. Why else would we be allowed up on this very old, probably very unsafe roof, to scrub tiles? No one gives a crap about Health and Safety here do they? No one gives a crap about us.
Throughout the text different characters are described as being monsters, showing there are different ways to be one. People can be worse than any beast lurking in the darkness. However this wasn’t really expanded upon. Nash has these moments where her rage overtakes her but there’s just no follow-up. I’m not sure if the ending was leading up to a sequel but I very much wanted it to be a standalone, with all the threads considered, if not tied up.
I liked the Devon setting. Bathory is a fictional place but it is clearly modelled on the type of small tourist town on the edges of Dartmoor. There’s not a lot to do out of season and they thrive on the legends of the area. I’m not entirely sure Nash’s date was required for the plot but I actually really enjoyed reading about the town.
Monster is published by MIRA Ink and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Also reviewed @ Cosying Up With Books | A Dream of Books
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.