Only a Monster

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Pub Date 17 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 17 Feb 2022

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In every story there is a hero and a monster.

'Mind-bending, heart wrenching, and unputdownable!' Stephanie Garber, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series and Once Upon a Broken Heart

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother's eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

Then a Good Samaritan attempt gone wrong sends Joan spinning through time, and her life quickly begins to unravel. Her family aren't just eccentric: they're monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn't just a cute boy: he's a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. 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.

Dive deep into the world of Only a Monster, where the line between monster and hero is razor thin: hidden worlds dwell in the shadows, beautiful monsters with untold powers walk among humans, and secrets are the most powerful weapon of all.

** Praise for Only a Monster **

'Darkly delicious fun' Natasha Ngan

'What a fantastic, immersive read - I couldn't stop turning the page!' Naomi Novik

'A captivating new voice in fantasy' Hafsah Faizal

'An absolute page-turner' Chloe Gong

'A fabulous start to a phenomenal new series' Adalyn Grace

In every story there is a hero and a monster.

'Mind-bending, heart wrenching, and unputdownable!' Stephanie Garber, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series and Once Upon a Broken Heart


Advance Praise

'An absolute page-turner. Only a Monster paints another vivid world inside the one we know, and uses a deft hand to bring it utterly alive. Vanessa Len blurs the age-old lines between good or evil, hero or monster, in the most captivating way.' - Chloe Gong, New York Times bestselling author of These Violent Delights

'Vanessa Len's world of monsters and heroes is like nothing I've ever read, utterly fresh and unique.' - C.S. Pacat, New York Times bestselling author

'An absolute page-turner. Only a Monster paints another vivid world inside the one we know, and uses a deft hand to bring it utterly alive. Vanessa Len blurs the age-old lines between good or evil...

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ISBN 9781529380064
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

The characters, the plot, AH-
Enemy soulmates? ✅
Morally ambiguous characters that’ll leave you speechless? ✅
Twists and secrets? ✅
Time travel? ✅
History?(the good kind) ✅
This book has the kind of ending that makes you scream at the ceiling at 2AM.
This book made me drink ginger tea and I don’t even like ginger. But I would eat raw ginger for the rest of my life if it meant that I could get the second book now.

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Wow. Please add this to your 2022 TBR’s

I finished in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down!
What an amazing story and I’m still sad it’s over I could have read so much more!

This book has left me with the start of a wicked hangover.

I hate giving a spoilery review so I won’t be going into details other than telling you to dive in to Joan’s story as soon as you can! The plot is so original and I have said it I could have had another 20 chapters and been a very happy reader! I loved the characters even the snarky posh boy. And there was not one part of the book I didn’t like.

Again I can just say wow.

Please read!

Thank you to netgalley & the publisher for access to this book.

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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me eARC of this book via NetGalley

Only a monster is such an unique and incredible read I am actually at loss at how to describe it! I read the whole book in one sitting because I really could not put it down, it was so good.

We follow Joan, a 16 years old seemingly ordinary girl, who has a crush on her colleague Nick and is about to go on a date with him. But then something happens to her and she realizes that she is not fully human - she is half-monster. From this moment everything was fast-paced and crazy, I had no idea what was going to happen next. There were so many plot twists, secrets, lies and it was so realistically written I felt like I was right there and then with Joan and her friends going through London and trying to make sense what is real and what is not.

At first Joan annoyed me a little, she sounded naive and maybe a bit stupid, but she changed so much as her story progressed that I ended up loving her. All the other characters, Ruth, Aaron, Nick and even Tom were so well-written and likeable they felt like real people. I can’t wait to read more about them.

I am still not sure how I feel about the ending. I guess I hoped for some problems to be solved in another way, but the more I think of it, it really suits this story and I am happy that there are going to be more installments in this series. The ending wasn’t really a cliffhanger, but I feel like I need to know what happens next soon. Overall, it was really amazing and unique book and I can’t wait for the next part of this story!

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My first act on finishing Only a Monster was to check to see when the sequel comes out, only to realise the book isn't out until next year so I have quite a wait on my hands. And honestly, a month is too long to wait,, let alone at least a year!

So - destiny, magical powers, family secret, possible love triangle, handsome enemies, love interest nemesis. You've read this before, right? Well, we have read lots of attempts before some of which manage to hit the mark, but the real deal is rare indeed. Happily Only a Monster is the real deal. It's clever, inventive, original, fast paced, beautifully plotted and unflinching. Now you know why I need the sequel!

Joan spends the summer with her dead mother's family, The Hunts. They are unusual - and thieves - but just like anyone else. Or so she thinks. Until one day something happens and she learns that they are not humans they are monsters and she's a monster too. At least, half of one. Before she can process the information and what it means for her, things escalate with the boy, Nick, she is fast falling for, not to the summer romance she envisions but to the point where they are trying to kill each other. Because Nick is a hero whose destiny is to kill all monsters - and that includes everyone Joan loves. Before she knows it she's joined forces with the arrogant, absurdly handsome and probably evil scion of the Hunts ancient enemy on a desperate attempt to change time and bring down Nick.

Joan is a little reminiscent of Buffy in the High School years, a little naive, a little reluctant, impulsive and gung ho, and despite her monster blood, all too human. She's no special snowflake to whom things happen to make the plot move along, she shoves the plot along with intention. Please take note all aspiring YA authors!

Only a Monster deserves to be a YA sensation. Hurry up with the sequel!

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I’ve read quite a few sci-fi/fantasy books recently, and this is definitely one of the better ones. The theme is so different to the normal, about monsters, humans and a hero, a unique slant on the subject. Joan is bobbing along nicely in her life when one moment in time literally changes it. She is a really good character, with guts, tenacity and a real moral code of her own. And, no spoiler as it’s in the trailer, she’s not the hero. The other characters are also really well written, mainly likeable and definitely draw you in to this book. This is a must read, and not just for the Teens and YA market, one for all sci-fi & fantasy fans, I look forward to reading what ever this author writes next.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Damn this is a good book. It’s exactly the kind of YA fantasy I adore. I raced through this one, sneaking chapters whenever possible and found it so addictive – I’ve been struggling to keep focused on a single book recently but this one managed to grab all my attention. I was pulled in by the V.E. Schwab comp (I’m a basic fangirl) but I stayed for the complex morality, compelling characters and fast-paced story.
I think my favourite element of the book was the magic system – the so-called monster families are able to steal time from other people, which they then can use to travel through time. And that presents them, and the readers, with interesting moral questions. Joan, the main character, isn’t truly aware of the extent of her family’s machinations and powers, and so she discovers what she and others can do along with the reader. There are still a lot of open questions by the end of the book, but it is open-ended enough that it looks like it will continue on and there’s plenty of space to continue on in later books. It’s definitely one of those books where morality isn’t quite so clear cut and no one is sure if they’re really on the right side, and I really appreciated that.
Another thing I really liked is that romance isn’t at the centre of this story. All too often YA focuses on romantic pairings over everything else, and this one doesn’t. It’s about Joan, her family and saving the future (and the present). It’s a book where teens are actually teens despite being faced with problems far bigger than themselves and overwhelming odds. Only A Monster is a good one. One of the best YA fantasies I’ve read this year, so definitely one I’d recommend.

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Brilliant, This storyline is unique and Im looking forward to seeing how it unfolds in the subsequent books, longer books please!

I loved the characters and I hope in the next book we will see a little more depth to the story and characters develop,, I wanted to know more about Aaron and his backstory and will we see him again? If Nick is unmade will he be reincarnated as Aaron therefore becoming her new soul mate? This book peaked my interest as quickly as the Sarah J Maas books did yrs ago., I think this author is going to go on to be very very successful.

I’m super excited to read book 2 and I will definitely buy this when it’s on sale.

Good Luck with the launch x

P.s Do you really need to stop at a trilogy?

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Let me tell you all a little story before we get into this review 😂
The release of Only A Monster is still a little while away, so when I received this Arc, I had fully intended to pick it up closer to release day - Until one night I decided let's just read a chapter, since I was so intrigued by the premise! Well friends you can imagine how well "let's read this closer to release day" played out since I'm posting my review now😂

Only A Monster was an absolute delight!! I had been in a little bit of a slump after my last read so this book had to work twice as hard to grab my attention and folks it did just that!!

Vanessa Len has such a fantastic way with words, I was quite literally sucked in from the very first page. The premise of this book is so brilliantly unique and it did not disappoint one bit.

The world building, magic system and characters were so well written, I have nothing but praises to share with you today.

The story follows Joan who discovers her family are monsters and she herself is half monster.
We have morally grey characters and magical rival families set in modern day London (need I say more😂) This was honestly such a treat!

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'Good thing we're not likely to get invited back, huh?'
'We weren't invited this time.'
'Oh yeah,' Joan said 'Oops.'
Only a Monster was a book I hadn't realized I had been craving. It had the perfect blend of mystery, humour, and adventure that made the book such a great reading experience. The monster system was quite interesting to read about and the setting of the book made it all the more better.

What could make it more interesting-
(This is a personal opinion.)
Character development- Whenever I read a book, I like to get to know the backstory of as many characters as possible and know the characters better. But, in some situations, I felt like I didn't know Joan at all. I like how she went from being timid and shy to confident and fierce but the change seemed a little too abrupt.
Overall, I liked the way the book was written and how the characters worked together. I also loved the bond between Joan and her cousin which is not seen in many books.

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I FOUND IT. I think I found my favorite YA Fantasy of the whole year (slightly ironic since this is releasing Feb 2022).

My favorite aspect might be how open to interpretation so many different parts of the story was. For example, if you put out of context the mechanism of their powers, they don't really seem that bad and worthy to be called "monsters". However, if you actually think about the nature of it and how its meant to work… they are definitely monsters and Vanessa Len does nothing to make it sound right. Which I loved. Because she was still able to humanize the characters without compensating for the fact that what they do is harmful to people who aren't them.

To be honest, other books might have given it some redemption arc but VL said: "nope! but I'm gonna make you love them anyway."

“Real monsters look like me and you.”

This has all of my weaknesses bundled up in one book:

Unique magic system? CHECK.
Character dynamics that sweep you up? CHECK.
Themes about humanity and monsters? CHECK.
Magical underworld? CHECK.
Time travel and forgotten memories? CHECK.
(Enemy) Soulmate trope? CHECK.
and This cover? *chef’s kiss*

Also, did I forget to tell you that this is set in London…

I'm going to be honest that I still don't know who exactly Vanessa Len is referring to with the "enemy-soulmates" bit. By that I mean I don't which one of the two male leads is actually her soulmate because the "enemy" part can be interpreted in two different ways depending on how you look at it. In my case, I think one of the main reasons the story affected me a lot was because I think I assumed the wrong person in the “enemy-soulmate” trope. I only realized it more than half-way through the story and it destroyed me because I think my ship might drown.

Before reading, I was actually really curious to know if they really are monsters or if it meant something else. There is just something so intriguing reading about monsters that might not really be monsters. The fact that it was not explicitly said in the synopsis why they are considered monsters was a very smart and effective move. It made things that more surprising to me, especially given how effectively executed it was for my preferences. (I am a very big fan of fantasy that is borderline dark, is dark, or has dark themes).

There are some things to be desired in the writing style and I'm not saying it was perfect but, oh, Vanessa Len’s skills in creative writing shows. I can’t pinpoint what exactly it is about her writing style but I was affected more than I thought I would be?? There’s something about this book, I swear, it gets you a certain way. When I know that the same scenes would not have hit as hard if VL’s writing was not what it was. There were just so many parts where I thought to myself that “this could have been a boring scene” but the way VL wrote it made it feel so fresh.

In terms of the magic system, I don’t know what I thought it would be but it wasn’t what I thought it was gonna be with the title and premise. It was slightly more magical but still had hat tinge of dark if you give it more than a second's thought. Given that I’ve read a great deal of fantasy with their fair share of magic systems, I get extra excited whenever one still manages to surprise me, especially in urban fantasy.

I do admit that there were times Joan frustrated me and annoyed me a little bit with her decisions but we're not going to get into that. I just want Aaron, my cinnamon bun, to be happy.

“We believe that if people belonged together...then our timeline tries to repair itself by bringing them together. Over and over and over....”
"Like soulmates?"
"Yes. If you believe in fairy tales,"

If you’re losing faith in YA Fantasy, I hope this helps give that hope back to you. This was definitely more The Last Magician than Passenger to me though, but it was definitely This Savage Song. I am so destroyed right now. I actually teared up when I finished this T_T

I was so affected by this story and it ended on a very destroying, heart-throbbing, and fulfilling note but also, I need the second book, like, yesterday.

↣ Highly recommended if you want some YA Time Travel Fantasy with ~maybe morally grey characters~ that is easy to get into but still holds the serotonin rushes that you are craving for. Especially one that holds aspects that are open to interpretation as of this first book. ↢

*ARC received from the publisher -Hodder & Stoughton- for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

— 4.5 —
⇢ content warnings// On and offscreen deaths of parents and guardians, On and offscreen deaths of family members, Threats of violence, Violence, Blood, Murder, Weapon use, Brainwashing, Interrogation, Involuntary drug use, Real-world racist microaggressions, Fantasy xenophobia
⇢ representation: diaspora Chinese-English main character

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I wasn't expecting to love this as much as I did, but holy crap, Only A Monster turned out to be so damn amazing. Right from the start, the action picks up and pulls you into the story. I loved the concept of the powers, of the families and the whole worldbuilding surrounding the parallel world of monsters that exists in this book.

This is such a perfect book to read during the spooky season. I devoured it so quickly. And the writing is just absolutely stunning. I already want the sequel now because this book was just so damn good; I literally cannot wait for the next book.

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A journey through time itself, a race to the undo what has been done. It took be a little while to get into the story and meld with the characters but once I was it was like a mystery, I had to know the solution to, a tale that's ending had to be found. I was a little addicted the plotline to say the truth. The ending...without ruining any spoilers all I can say heart!

To create a brilliant book, you need several aspects as a writer but there is only one element you must naturally have; and that is the ability to create a world and characters in vivid details with a story that the reader wants to journey along and know the ending of. Vanessa Len has proven in her debut novel that she has this gift. By the end I was needing more, enraptured by the main character and yet had so many mixed emotions about that ending. I re-read the last chapter before writing this review and I still don't know what to feel. This is not necessarily the story you think you are getting when reading the title...but it is the story you will want to read until the very end and beyond.

There were a few negative aspects about this book but nothing that this brilliant debut author can't work on. Firstly, the locations of Kensington High Street and other places in London were repeated several times on the same page and once twice within two cut the flow a bit. The flow on the writing itself was a bit choppy which I believe is why it took me a while to get into the character's shoes and see the world for it vivid images straight away, which as I said can easily be learn. As I said before there are certain qualities you must be a nature writer and the main one is the ability to create and develop a world and characters that the reader can fall into with ease. This author has that talent so I cannot wait to see what she writes and develops next.

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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Only a Monster is the start of a new trilogy that deals with time travel, the fear of the other, morality, self-acceptance and so much more. It is a beautiful, fast-paced tale that is a mix of Passenger and This Savage Song, and while I have not read the latter, I do believe it was better than Passenger (which says a lot as I am obsessed with that duology.)

Vanessa Len has created such a unique magic system that intertwines with fated soulmates and a battle through time. We are introduced to Joan Chang-Hunt, a half-human, half-monster who volunteers at Holland House with a boy called Nick, a monster hunter. While I am usually not the biggest fan of characters realising they are not human and have powers, Len pulled it off incredibly well. Both of these characters were extremely lovable and so human and it was an emotional read as they battled against one another.

We are also introduced to various side characters, such as Aaron Oliver and Ruth Hunt who are equally as lovable people. Everyone feels so human, even though they're not, and they all have wonderful and unique personalities. I appreciate that Len developed her side characters just as well as her main characters as it created a nice atmosphere throughout the book.

The world-building and magic system was also extremely well done, I enjoyed getting to know the twelve Monster families of London and the various displays of their power. It was also great to see the Monster Court and how it works with time - time is at the forefront of this novel as it deals heavily with time travel, which in turn creates many dilemmas and evokes the main thematic concern of morality and the fear of the other.

The book also had many plot twists throughout, many of which were very emotional and shocking. There was also a great deal of subtle foreshadowing involved which was revealed in the end, which made for a very sad ending while leaving plot threads unresolved for the sequel. I have many theories for the rest of the trilogy and I am eager to read the sequels and other books Len releases.

This is definitely my favourite YA fantasy of the year - Vanessa Len is a writer to watch. I strongly encourage everyone to pre-order this book before release: February 17th 2022. - 5*

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This book is brilliant - probably the best (YA) fantasy I read this year - and deserves Every. Single. Star.

Put this at the VERY top of your 2022 fantasy TBR.

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Firstly, Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I was really excited for this book because the pitch WAS AMAZING. Monsters in England?? Time travel?? Enemies to lovers?? Soulmates?? Monster court heists?? Yes!! So I was really happy when I was granted an ARC for this amazing book 💖

“Olivers see. Hunts hide. Nowaks live. Patels bind. Portellis open. Hathaways leash. Nightingales Take. Mtawalis keep. Argents sway. Alis seal. Griffiths reveal. But only the Lius remember.”

Only a Monster is set in England with aspects such as time travel, monsters, heists and more! I loved everything about this book- I can’t even explain how much I enjoyed reading it!!

The writing and plot were PHENOMENAL. The writing was descriptive and rich, the plot was well paced. I love how the author expressed Joan’s biracial identity and drew parallels between her being half Chinese and half British, and her being half human and half monster. Only a Monster expressed a new take on “heroes” and “monsters” and I am here for it! The world building was great and I really enjoyed how different families had different powers, it was super cool!

The characters in this book were one of the best I have ever read about. Joan was a great character, she was kind and was willing to do absolutely anything for her loved ones. Aaron was also an amazing character, he was a bit stuck up and entitled, but I really enjoyed his character arc. Nick, well I did enjoy Nick’s character but I was not expecting the outcome that came at the end! I also loved how Joan and Aaron had to work together to survive despite their families having a hatred for each other. In terms of the romance- let’s just say I was not expecting what happened, and while it did leave me a bit confused I do expect more clarity in book two.

The various themes explored such as family and identity were extremely interesting to read about, and they were very important too. In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read the next one to see how Joan’s journey continues. Vanessa Len has truly written magic! 💖

TL;DR: A magnificent contemporary fantasy debut that explores identity, monsters, heists, family, time travel, and will have any reader screaming for book two!

TW: On and offscreen deaths of parents and guardians, on and offscreen deaths of family members, threats of violence, violence, blood, murder, weapon use, brainwashing, interrogation, involuntary drug use, real-world racist micro-aggressions, fantasy xenophobia.

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"Real monsters look like me and you"

I adored this book, it's everything I wanted it to be and more, filled with morally grey characters whom you often forget are monsters despite their actions and way they work being worthy of the description, and a unique magic system this book will sweep you off your feet.

Dealing with time travel, morality, self-acceptance, this novel plays with the question are monsters born or made, I promise this book lives up to the hype. Expect twists and turns, emotional outcomes and get ready for your new favourite read.

I need book 2 and 3 now.

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Darkly delicious fun. If you've been looking for your newest YA urban fantasy obsession - you've found it.

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I FINISHED IT AND OH MY GOD- NO hear me out seriously, I thought I knew what was coming, I thought I was prepared but HELL NO. I was not, like every damn book.

Joan was having her perfect summer, living with her mother's family in London, who was kind of eccentric but still loved her a lot. She was volunteering at Holland House and was going on a date with her crush and co-worker Nick. Perfect isn't it? But perfect is just oblivion, suddenly Joan is thrust into the battle between Monsters and Monster Hunters, good vs. evil. And this time she was not the hearo, instead she was the monsters whom Nick was destined to kill. Her perfect might turn into the worst nightmare for her family as well as the entire monster community.

If I were to describe the book in a few lines, it'd be like
"A story filled with agony, yearning, hope, and pain. A squad that has everything on-line, if they don't succeed, they might lose everything. Time is running out and their enemies are every step ahead, the world might collapse. The world needs saving, but this time..hero is not leading the story"

Now y'all, let's start with the checklist, shall we?
Enemies-to-Lovers ✔
Angst, loads of it ✔
A squad on a mission ✔
Story breaking your heart into fragments in first half ✔
Time-Travel ✔
Queer rep (not the main character, but the side couple) ✔
Begging on your knees for the second book, even though the first hasn't been released yet? ✔

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Wow! What an amazing book! I was so immersed in the story that I could not put this book down and read it in one sitting. Without giving too much away, I'll just tell you that I loved the MC from the start, her character was well thought out and developed. The unique magic system and anti hero pov was a nice surprise. I can’t wait for the next book to find out what happens next.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publishers for a free ARC in exchange for a review.

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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I cannot fathom how much I loved this book and how much I want the next book in the series now. The day I finished the book I was just me pure screaming and crying and ranting to people to go add this amazing book in their tbr
I was so amazed by the plot of the story since it's unlike anything I have ever read before. The writing was perfect and descriptive and the pace of the book was perfect and fast as well.

The pitch for this book had been so pulling like - villain pov, Captain America like hero, enemies to lover and monster heists- , And the book has it all and that too done exceptionally well. 
The plot of this book is so rich and descriptive and so many layers and the more you read the more you get to know about the monster world and secret they have. The story revolves around in England during different times and the main character is revealed the truth about her own identity, also the parallels between Joan's biracial identity as a Half-British and Half-Chinese and also Half- Human and Half- Monster The cliffhangers and ending had me gawking and my anticipation for the sequels are so much more now.The romance in the book was interesting to read and I liked it and the slow burn enemies to lover has my heart. I can't wait for the upcoming books and to see more of these characters and the relationships.

Joan was just mesmerizing to read about, her growth as a person during the book was amazing, even though she was naïve during the start she was kind, hopeful and would have done anything for her family.

I AM A SIMP FOR AARON OLIVER I DON'T MAKE THE RULES. That really sums up my feelings for this character. Hot ruthless monster boy and likes to banter and actually has a soft heart and his last scene made me almost tear up.

Nick as a person I may not be the biggest fan of, but I loved his story and how his character came to be. (if you wanna know what i am talking about go pre order now)
In conclusion this book is awesome and would definitely recommend this to everyone!! the plot, the characters and everything is so well balanced and I just can't wait to see more!!

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This book was an absolute gem . From the unique magic system, time travel battle to anti hero pov everything was brilliant. Vanessa Len was successful in created something where I was rooting for the monster side and not the usual hero . Joan is now one of my favorite main characters with her bold and rebellious personality, she was a treat to read .
I honestly believe this is one of the best debut I have read and everyone should give it a try as well .

Thank you netgalley and hodder and stoughton for providing me an arc of this amazing book . I'll post in detail review of this book on different platforms closer to the release date.

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Well this book was amazing, it was a breath of fresh air. I loved how this book was so different, how the 'monster' is so up for interpretation. The magic system, while at the beginning did confuse me, was fab. Honestly, I can't think of a bad thing to say from this bok. I cannot wait for this to come out so I can discuss it with others! I've preordered it, and early await the next installment.

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Source of book: NetGalley (thank you!)
Relevant disclaimers: None
Please note: This review may not be reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, without explicit consent from the author.

Okay, the balance of the universe has been restored. After my last YA, where the hero dug up bodies, I am once again back into “love interest is a mass murderer” territory. Although to give Only A Monster credit, it is pretty clear that this is kind of a romantic impediment. Not least because “the heroine’s entire family” is included within the mass murder thing.

And in case my point hasn’t just made itself: holy fuck me, this book is dark. Brilliant but, oh my God, is it dark. Like, read until 5am in a state of heart-gripped anxiety and flailing emosh dark. I don’t know if it’s my lack of familiarity with YA in general that keeps leaving me stranded in what feel like incredibly intense books but … YA seems to be doing SOME THINGS at the moment. I mean, can someone tell me, are the kids all right? I don’t think the kids are all right.

In any case, Only A Monster is one hell of a ride. Its bones feel familiar enough—heroine comes from a family with mysterious powers, there’s a cute boy, there’s an aloof boy, there’s a myth about the past or the future, the heroine might have a special power that is beyond all the other special powers—but when it comes to stories like this, it’s not about the tropes, it’s about how you use them. And this book deploys them masterfully, twists them masterfully, shows you new sides of them, and then totally wrecks you with them. The bastard.

I don’t actually want to talk too much what’s going on here because Only A Monster is super well-structured, doling out knowledge to the reader alongside its heroine at exactly the right pace, and discovering the details of the world, uncovering its mysteries, and being taken aback by everything you didn’t quite put together, is part of the pleasure of the journey. Narratives like this—where the world we recognise sitting alongside a vast and magical one with its own rules and history—are not exactly uncommon (there’s an irritatingly famous example though it’s far from the first or only) but they’re endlessly compelling when they’re done right. For my money, Only A Monster does it very, very right. I would even go so far as to say it knocks said irritatingly famous example out of the park. It’s not fucking twee, for a start, and self-aware, willing to interrogate its own complexities and inequities. Plus it’s effortlessly diverse in a very real and natural way. Queer characters are queer on page, the cast includes multiple people of colour, and the heroine is herself mixed race. Oh, and as a sidenote, it’s set in a London that feels recognisably and specifically like London. I love UK books that make the UK feel like the UK, y’know?

Also: time-travel. There’s motherfucking time-travel in this. If there’s one trope, apart from “this unit has a soul” that kills me absolutely dead in the heart department it’s the whole “we must save the world, but it will make us forget what we are to each other” thing. God. Help. My emotions.

There’s so much to admire in Only A Monster: the world-building, the setting, the plot that doesn’t let up for a moment. But the writing (which is witty and engaging enough to keep the whole thing from spiralling down a plughole of desolation) needs a notable shout out, as does the character work. Joan is a great heroine, out of her depth, but resourceful and determined, the supporting cast are all intriguing and repay emotional investment, and I found myself surprisingly sympathetic to Joan’s two potential love interests. Even though one is a complicatedly damaged poshboy and the other is a complicatedly damaged MASS MURDERER.

All of which said, I have the mixed-est feelings about this being the first book in a trilogy. Part of what’s so successful about Only A Monster is that it feels like a complete (albeit wildly tragic) arc, rather than the first part of a really long three-part story that has just been lopped off from the whole. And, as a reader, I super appreciated that: I’m a bit tired of planned trilogies that leave you with the narrative equivalent of blue balls after book one. This, by contrast, just left me curious and emotionally fulfilled. Which, yes. Thank you for respecting my time and investment, Only A Monster. I can’t deny, however, that there’s part of me, the deranged masochist part, that kind of … likes is a hard word for a conclusion so brutal and compromised, but there’s a powerful coherence to the book’s arc as it currently stands. On the other hand, there is clearly so much more of this world to explore—antagonists as yet unmasked, much still unknown, carefully established themes to be developed—that I will be running not walking the moment book two is available.

I also suggest you run not walk for this one. It's an incredible read.

(Do be wary of the content guidance, though, and protect yourself: I am not kidding when I said this book goes to some places and takes on some stuff).

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My panic that I'd only be reading one five star book this year has been unfounded because this book has come along and blown my socks off. I'm somewhat tempted to write this entire review in all-caps, because the book was just that good, but I might save it for some pertinent words. For example: THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO LOVE IT.

Writing a positive review is sometimes harder than a negative one. I could waffle on about the amazing characters for hours. Or perhaps speak in-depth about the plot, and how I was pulled into the story from the very first page. Maybe I'll mention that this is nothing like any book I've read before, with so many incredible ideas that it made me envious I hadn't thought to come up with them myself. Or maybe I'll just repeat that: THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO LOVE IT.

I can't stop thinking about Only A Monster, it's burrowed into my brain and won't leave me alone. I wish I could read it again for the first time and soak up every second of this magical story. The people and places seem so really, and I've already spent hours deciding which family I'd want to be in (all of them. It's all of them), and a long time planning my wedding to Aaron (simultaneously lavish and classy).

I'm not dropping any spoilers at all for this, but I will say that I needed book two, like, yesterday. My only regret is that I don't have a physical ARC of this, because putting it into my 2021 favourites stack is going to be tricky with just an eARC, but I will find a way.
Only A Monster is out February 2022 and you can preorder it now. Why should you preorder it, I hear you ask. Well, because THIS BOOK IS AMAZING AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO LOVE IT.

Thank you hodderscape for the eARC. I recieved it through NetGalley in return for my honest review.

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Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars

This was the perfect YA Urban Fantasy and I was hooked from a couple of chapters in! I loved the time travel aspect and I loved the enemies to lovers (and this could be for two of them - the hero/monster enemies and the family enemies 👏)

I had my theories throughout on certain characters, but I was very wrong! So well done to Vanessa Len on keeping me guessing with the twists and turns 😅

I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be more books so I’ll sit and wait patiently praying that Aaron is gonna be there 😍

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This book was one of my favourite reads of 2021 and it’s not even published until next year! Thank you so much NetGalley and HodderScape for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Joan is a 16 year old girl who always follows the rules and loves history (a girl after my own heart), so much so that she volunteers at a museum in her spare time - this is where she meets love interest Nick.

As she gets ready for her first date with Nick, an incident happens where she blacks out and loses half a day, missing her date. She finds out that she’s half human and half monster, and the monsters from her childhood stories are real. In this world, monsters aren’t as we know them, but are time travellers who are able to travel by taking time from humans.

After another incident, Joan learns that Nick is also not as he seems, he is the famed hero from her childhood stories who’s main mission in life is to rid the world of monsters.

I loved the magic system in this world and how time travel/history was portrayed. I also loved the aspects of the different powers that each monster family has and I can’t wait to see how the story continues to develop.

I loved reading about a main character who isn’t naturally rebellious, I loved seeing how she navigated this new world and how she adapted to all these new situations. I struggled to put this one down and wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who likes YA, history or anything time travel.

There is plenty of angst, betrayal, mysteries and high stakes as well as forced proximity, star-crossed lovers and other tropes which I’m definitely missing - pick this up!!!

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Why do I always love the stand-offish men?!

I adored the mystery and intrigue in this book and even better yet…
That ending had me sobbing.

You know a book is fantastic when you’re trying to tell your partner about it and you start crying because the author has just ruined your life and your emotions are so raw.

Things I loved about this book:
High stakes
High loss
Enemy soulmates
Morally ambiguous characters

There are supposed to be more books and I don’t know if I can handle the emotional trauma that comes with them… but I’ll read them anyway because this was so good.

It does surprise me that this is meant to be part of a series though. It felts very rounded off and complete. BUT I am super excited to see where Len might take this.

The world building, the plot, the characters, all of this was utter perfection. I was completely engaged throughout this whole read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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“Dragons need not fear other dragons”

I think I got whiplash from this book. I absolutely loved this book and something was happening every second! Thank you to Hooder & Stoughton for giving me the chance to read this ARC!

16 year old Joan visits her Gran and family every summer. She loves to follow the rules and history- which is how she meets love interest Nick

Before her first date with Nick, the unexpected happens and then it’s dark. Hours have passed and she’s missed her date.

She goes home to find her family is not just eccentric as she thought and she is half human Half “monster” and can time travel by taking time from humans.

Joan is thrust into a new world who everyone she thought she knew have been keeping secrets. Especially Nick.

This novel is jam packed with angst, betrayal and family love that will keep anyone interested!

There were some occasions where I had to reread because there was just so much information that I was trying to absorb and my mind couldn’t take it!

I loved the mix of different families and what they are known for and how they had to come together to stop the “hero”

If you love star-crossed lovers, forced proximity, and world full of magic and time travel, you will love this!!! Could not reccomend enough!!

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Joan is a normal girl enjoying her summer after moving to London to live with her maternal grandmother. She’s loving her job at the museum and has met a cute boy. Then everything turns on it’s head when she accidentally discovers the family secret — her grandmother and the rest her late mother’s family are monsters. Not only that but the boy she’s falling for turns out to be monster killer determined to take out her whole family.

Wow this one was a ride! The pace was super quick and I loved Joan. I feel like there wasn’t a single word wasted in this story, it was so well done. The reveals were spread out well throughout the book. I loved the relationship building and back and forth between the characters.

The world building was really interesting and pretty much I enjoyed every aspect of this story. I have so many questions and theories about what will happen next, I’m so glad it’s the first ina trilogy. A refreshing and creative YA fantasy.

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Thabk you so much, NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton, for the chance to read and review this book in exchange of an honest review.

Only a monster was one of my most anticipated reads in 2022 and I wasn't disappointed at all! Vanessa Len wrote a brilliant book, set in a world populated by morally grey characters, where the lines between good and evil are slimmer than ever and I loved everything!
The story is unique, the characters are so well written and skillfully crafted and the worldbuilding is wonderful and so thrilling! This book is a gem, I couldn't stop reading it and it has everything you could ever dream of!

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I've just finished 'Only a monster' by Vanessa Len and I need a few days to fully recover this. This is such a unique and thrilling YA novel, that I just couldn't put down. Joan finds out that she's one of the monsters from the stories her Gran would tell her and her cousins while they were growing up, She needs to team up with her family's enemy in order to defeat the hero who is hell bent on destroying all the monsters.

This was such a unique and well developed magic system set in an urban fantasy setting. I was sucked in within a few pages, loving the dark tones from this. Len has created a world where, although the monsters are indeed monsters, we learn how to love them and root for them to win. The characters are all wonderful and varied. You genuinely love them all (well, nearly all!) There's romance, but it doesn't take over from the plot. I loved how I couldn't see how it would end up too.

This is part of a planned trilogy and cannot wait for the next two instalments, though as the first isn't published till February next year I may have to wait longer than I want to! Shame I can't travel through time to read how this series continues! I really recommend 'Only a monster' to fans of YA fantasy. It's so different to everything I've read recently.

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for an E-ARC of this brilliant novel.

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Brilliantly enthralling and unputdownable, debut author Vanessa Len masterfully blurs the lines of good and evil in this vividly immersive tale of time travel, forbidden romance and monsters that you’re definitely not gonna want to miss.

When sixteen years old Joan stay with her mother’s eccentric family in London she’s determined to enjoy herself. With a nerdy job at the historic Holland House and a date with the boy she’s been crushing on all summer, things feel like their falling into place…

But when her attempt at a good deed reveals her mother’s family secret her life quickly starts to unravel. For the Hints aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters with terrifying, hidden powers. To make matters worse, Nick (the boy she likes) is a monster slayer whose sole purpose is to hunt her people to extinction.

Forced on the run Joan begrudgingly teams up with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a rival monster family who hates her own.

If she’s to save herself and her family Joan will have to embrace her own monstrousness. Because in this story…she is not the hero.

I loved every second of this and literally devoured it in record time. The world building was exceptional and no attention to detail was spared, the alternate version of London was also well developed. Having the monster for a protagonist was also utterly refreshing.

I absolutely fell in love with Joan who was just as new and unfamiliar with this world as we (the audience) were. Her struggle coming to terms families’ abilities was well thought out and led to some interesting questions around morality and what makes a person ‘evil’.

There were some pretty intense scenes of Joan with both Aaron and Nick (there was definitely chemistry) but I loved that the story mostly focuses on Joan, her family and trying to save them, which was really nice.

The time travel element was also well crafted and I absolutely adored that one of their stops happened to be my year of birth—I like to think a baby version of me exists in this world (and no one can convince me otherwise.)

The pacing was really good and the non-stop action was undeniably, edge of your seat addictive—it’s a beautifully written and richly detailed twist on the Hero vs. Monster trope and I can guarantee that it’s the monsters you’ll be rooting for in this marvellously mind blowing, fantasy YA debut.

So if time travelling monsters and a heart wrenching, Romeo and Juliet-esque romance sounds like your thing, then I definitely recommend you check this out—it’s magnificent!

Also thanks to Hodder&Stoughton and Netgalley for the e-arc.

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I would like to thank Hodder & Stoughton for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
You know when a you are reading a book and the world building is intricately beautiful and tje writing is soooo good that you forget that you are reading? Only a monster did this for me.
The tropes! It had all my favorite tropes. What more could I ask for? If you hadn't realized already this book has HERO X VILLAIN (monster but you get the idea)
The idea 0f a monster as the protagonists is absolutely fantastic. I want to see more books like this.
If you like the shadowhunter world, this is for you. I swear you will love it.
I read the story in one sitting, was hooked from the very start. I must also mention how there was no boring info dumps. The world and the setting was perfectly discribed. Ohhhh and TIME TRAVEL!! This book has time travel y'all!!! And it's not even too si-fi, it was pure fantasy and history.
I would like to conclude by saying, Aaron Oliver, will you marry me?

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Wow! This book! It had me hooked from the start and I could not put it down!

We follow Joan, as she spends summer with her Gran and cousins in London, when a chance incident sends her spiraling through time, uncovering family secrets and on a mission to to re-write the timeline. The magic system, time travel, angst, friendships and world building were all outstanding.

This has easily became one of my favourite reads in a long time, and I'm sad that it doesn't release until next year, because I need the next book now!

Thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read Only a Monster.

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I used to love reading new fantasy authors, till a couple of years back when a bunch of massively hyped new fantasy releases were absolutely terrible. I'm really glad I set aside my wariness of the genre for this book, though. Vanessa Len's a very talented writer, with a great control over plot-of course you require suspension of disbelief when it comes to fantasy, but that doesn't mean there are plot inconsistencies. All the characters are memorable, and distinct, and they all have their parts to play.
The protagonist of the book is Joan, a 16 year old who's spending her summers at her beloved grandmother's in London. She volunteers at Holland House, and has a crush on a fellow volunteer, Nick. Like any good fantasy protagonist worth her salt, though, Joan isn't an ordinary 16 year old. The twist in the story, is that the heroic Chosen One, Nick, is on a mission to wipe out Joan and people like her, called 'Monsters', so the "heroes" in this story are actually...Monsters. The Monsters in this world are like reverse Weeping Angels from Doctor Who-they can take time from non-monsters, and store it up and use it to time travel, thereby reducing the lifespan of the human source. I love the moral dilemma Len sets up- Joan knows this is morally wrong, but for a history buff like her, the temptation is hard to resist-would some stranger she steals time from really miss that one hour from their life?! Joan has to team up with the only living member of the Capulets to her Montague-Aaron Oliver, to figure out how to save themselves. The plot's twists and turns, the people she meets-they're all ingenious and wholly unique. An element I've sorely missed in a lot of modern fantasy is humour, and I absolutely loved how witty this book is. While this works excellently as a stand-alone and all the loose ends are tied up, there's enough left for sequels, and I really hope there are more. Read this book to fill up the Harry Potter-shaped hole in your life!

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The fact that this book isn't coming out until february next year upsets me because how am I supposed to go through 3 months without talking about this book?

I loved Only a Monster, and this was such a great YA Fantasy debut. I saw this on Netgalley a month back and I was intrigued by the description that was written. A star crossed fantasy? I was sold instantly.

I love the concept of monsters existing in the real world and this was a perfect execution. The world building was easy enough for me to understand but also complex enough without it being too info-dumpy. I loved how Vanessa also kept me in my toes because as the story goes, there are still stuff I learned about the world and the characters itself. The action was so good and I love the little heist storyline and the time travel concept and everything.

The characters were also really well written. Not going to lie, it took me a while to like Joan but she's such a clever character and I know why she acted that way in the first place. My heart breaks and cheers for Joan as she tries to save her family in this one. It annoyed me how reckless she was in the first half of the book, but it grew on me and I have grown to love her. My favorite characters were definitely Aaron and Tom though.

One of the things in this book that intrigued me was the romance. Vanessa really played my emotions with the romance in this one, and I think this is the first fantasy book I could actually remember enjoying the complicated romantic relationships between the characters (Is it a love triangle? i honestly could not say but every single romance in this book that I've gotten was 10/10. The romance is one thing I cannot wait to talk and discuss about when this book comes out.). I also loved the family aspect in it, although I would've wanted more, but there's always the next book.

Super glad to see the untitled #2 and #3 books on goodreads because I would love to come back to this world and meet these characters again.

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the ARC.

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Don’t mind me, just adding this to my ✨all time favourites✨ pile!
Honestly, where do I even start?
Vanessa Len has created the most astonishing world within our own world, a world where monsters exist.
When I first read the plot I adored the sound of it but I have to admit I was a little sceptical because there’s a LOT going on and I was worried how it would be pulled off without it being confusing and messy… but Len did it! Ohhh she did it and it was IMMENSELY GOOD!
I have never read a book where the hero was my enemy and I’m supporting the “bad guys”. Every second was executed perfectly. It’s fast paced, easy to follow and interesting! So many YA fantasies I’ve read recently have fell flat and been boring, not this one!
I’ll be raving about this book for a long time to come.

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Oooh I really enjoyed this one. It’s deliciously dark. If you like morally grey characters or you're a fan of Marie Lu or V E Schwab then this is for you! Joan’s biggest concern after a perfect summer working at a historic house is how her date with her co-worker is going to go but when she discovers she is a monster, who can steal time from people in order to time travel, missing her date is the least of her problems. Joan barely has time to confront her family’s secret and her own monstrousness before she has to decide how far she is willing to go to save her family when a monster slayer is hunting them all down. The settings felt really solid, the characters fit together really well and I especially liked the tension and uneasiness between the families. The main plot had enough twists and turns to keep me wondering and I just really liked the feel of the book in general. There was a little bit of everything I like in here and it reminded me of some of my favourite YA reads growing up. Vanessa Len was not afraid to go to a very dark place and I’m a bit scared but very excited to read the next two books in this trilogy.

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Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an ARC via NetGalley.
4.7 stars
*Spoiler alert!*
I was curious about the book since the moment I've read the synopsis. Who doesn't like monsters and hero stories? At least, I do.
The beginning was a bit slow for me, that's why it lost 0.3 stars for me. But when the pace picked up - oh my! I couldn't put the book away and finished it in one sitting.
Joan, the main protagonist, was told from when she was little that she was a monster. She did not understand what that meant and I neither. I thought that it was cruel to raise a child seeing themselves as a monster and not the hero they wanted to be. And then the story began...
As I mentioned, the beginning didn't wow me. We met Joan and her family, we saw her volunteering in a museum and having a not so secret crush on her co-worker. Seems like a normal teenage life, doesn't it? And then it happened. She touched a man who pushed her and the world changed. The day changed to night in a blink of an eye. That moment changed Joan's life drastically.
Her Gran revealed the story behind calling her a monster. Because she truly was. Half-monster and half-human, not belonging to any world. Joan could travel through time by stealing time from humans. Stealing their time on earth.
I did enjoy a different concept on time travellers. No machines, no science but a simple touch. A touch that could suck the rest of your life from your body or borrow just a few minutes.
And here's the first tragic plot twist in this story. Nick, Joan's first love, is a hero in this universe. A hero whose job is to kill monsters. He kills Joan's family, slaughtering them without a second thought. But not her. Not yet. This story couldn't finish so soon.
And there's Joan, who just found out about her powers and lost her family to her beloved one. Doesn't it sound like perfect timing for some adventure to begin?!
Joan meets other monsters who help and teach her. Aaron, the first monster who was mainly nice to her, taught her how to travel, how to borrow time.
I don't want to retell the whole plot but I cannot stop thinking about how good the story was!
I'm used to happy endings after such a tragic storyline so I was expecting to see another one. There was a legend about a hero falling in love with a monster girl so why couldn't Joan and Nick be happy in the end? But the author decided to take another turn. Prepare yourself for the plot twist you won't be able to forget for a long time. This is where I need to stop myself before I reveal too much.
Get ready for different lovers to enemies, for the monsters who are not as cruel as they think they are, for the time travel of your life.
The writing will lully you into reading and reading more until you reach the last page in disbelief. And you'll be left hungry for more. But is there going to be more? The time will show.

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This book intrigued me from its very beginning. It begins like a lot of other YA books and suddenly everything collapses. I liked Joan and her family from the start, even if they are supposed not to be likeable since they are monsters. But in this book, everything is turned upside down and we see the story happening through the eyes of those we are supposed to detest. For once, the hero isn’t telling the story and gives his place to the monsters.

Joan is an average girl on holiday, spending a good time with her family until she discovers they are monsters and that she is one too. Her situation is very interesting because her father is human and she has been raised as one. So, her reactions are the ones the reader can have when she discovers monsters are real and that they are stealing people’s lives. I also liked this idea because it shows that magic comes at a price and it adds some morality to the book which is not often the case or even well done in YA.

If you read this book, you will see that some of the characters are present just for a few pages at the beginning and then disappear from the story. But the odd thing is that you will be attached to them anyway because the author succeeds in giving them a strong background and personality in a few pages. Even more strange, I was rooting for Joan and her monster friends while hating Nick (the hero). The latter was so brainwashed and trapped in his own morality that he was insufferable. This book perfectly shows that there is never just one side to a story.

The action was happening very fast and each time I opened the book intending to reading just a few pages I ended up reading for more than one hour. I was caught up in the story and was helped by the writing which was like a movie, I could see all the scenes happening in front of me. The book is quite complex with all the characters, the different timelines and powers but also so complete that I originally thought it was a standalone but then discovered it would be a trilogy (yeah!!!). For those who usually wait for the all series to be published, don’t wait to read this book since it’s perfectly standing on its own!

And can we talk about the end? It was so refreshing! No easy resolution, no easy choice or miracle unlike what I’m used to seeing in YA. And there’s a real growth of Joan, who realises that some things can be heavy on your conscience, and especially memories. I found this analysis particularly true and poetic.

So, the only criticism I have is the trope (I don’t even know if it’s one or just a literary trend) of the heroine discovering her powers/a new world and being stupid about it. I don’t know but when you know nothing about something, you listen to the advice of people who already know the ins and outs of your situation, no? I’ve always found this to be an easy way to make the action happen and here that’s exactly the case with Joan making rash decisions when everyone’s telling her ‘uh no that’s probably not a good idea’. However, the other aspects of the book are so good, and the fact that she’s finally growing up a bit towards the end saved this book from being spoiled for me.

In brief: Well, this one is definitively one of my favourites of the year (even if theoretically it’s one of my faves for next year 😀 ). It was a surprise until the end and I can’t wait to read the next ones in the series to see more of this strange family!

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I started and finished Only a Monster on the same day, it was so good I just couldn't put it down!

The whole concept of the story was really interesting and totally different from anything I've read before, I love time travel in books anyway but this twist on it was great. It felt new and exciting, from the morally grey time travel to the general magic system - it was all so intricately done.

The characters all go through so much, Joan in particular grows a lot in a short amount of time and really has to reevaluate how she feels about her whole world. I don't want to give too much away because I really think this is one to go into blindly, the twists and turns came thick and fast and the whole story was really addictive.

I'm really excited to see where this series goes, I'm kinda mad I have to wait so long for a sequel now!

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I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and fair review.

Normally with fantasy books, they take me a couple of chapter to get into them, but this book had me gripped straight away, and I read it in one sitting.

This big gives us a unique take on time-travel, with good historical references. Very morally ambiguous characters that you can't help liking. The pacing of the story and the world building was perfect.

Looking forward to the next book on the trilogy.

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A great read! An excellent and well-executed concept with a fantastic host of characters. Very much looking forward to the next book!

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This book is a 2022 must read!!

Only a Monster is the story of Joan Hunt, a half Chinese half English and half human half monster young girl who sees her world crumbling down when she finds out that her entire family, including herself, are monsters that can time travel by stealing life from humans. But not only her family has lied to her, her crush Nick turns out to be the famous monster hunter, the hero of the story. After tragic events, Joan has to work with Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. In her journey she'll learn to love and trust her own monstrousness.

This book was a real surprise. As always when I start a new book I try not to expect too much of it but I think nothing prepares you for what awaits for you when reading this book.
The world building is insane ! Not in a way that is full of politics and magic system you don't understand half of it but in terms of escapism. It's not a fairytale but it feels like you're reading one because of the world. It is so immersive and enchanting and because it is low fantasy it feels like it can happen to your world anytime. I loved the time traveling aspect of it, loving History myself I understood the attraction Joan felt to time traveling.

The characters were so charming it was impossible not to love them all (even the hero). First of all let's talk about Joan who has the best development ever. She is this very sensible and not confident woman who becomes a very strong confident monster who is ready to be the hero of her own story. She is brave and stubborn. She never gives up for the person she loves. She truly is the hero everyone is waiting for (or not) and I love the fact that in this story she is the monster. It's the whole paradox of the book.
Aaron Oliver also has a really amazing development. At first he is a coward, he never speaks up for himself or for the others. Meeting Joan changes everything for him and he finds himself caring for someone which pushes him into doing unexpectable things. His story was so heartbreaking and yet heartwarming at the same time because you see, as a reader, how Joan affects his life in the best way. The two really bring out the best out of each other.
Then Nick, the hero. I love how the hero is actually the morally gray character, you don't really know if you're supposed to like him or not because he is the enemy but it's more than just that. I will let you read the story to know what I mean but it's more complicated than what it seems.
Of course there is Tom and Jamie and Ruth, they are all so amazing and you get emotionally attached to all of them. In the end, they are a family (found family trope lovers it's for you).

The thing I loved the most in this story is the moral compass that is rebalanced because of the fact that the whole book is from a monster's point of view. You find yourself asking some questions like "Is the hero really morally good?" "Are the monsters so inhuman ?". Why heroes ? Why monsters? Aren't we all a little bit of both?

- enemies to lovers
- time traveling
- strong female character
- found family trope

For fans of Harry Potter, Ruby Red, Shadowhunters and The Mirror Visitor.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Allow me to preface by saying that had I read this book as a young teenager, I would have been insufferable. This isn’t an exaggeration – the younger version of myself was wholly obsessed with supernatural abilities and lore, which means that I would have made this book my entire personality. With the addition of a Malaysian main character (okay, she’s half Malaysian, but that’s still more rep than I had ever gotten growing up), there is no way that I wouldn’t have immersed myself in this world. This book had my inner child crying tears of joy!

First of all, I love Vanessa Len’s take on the monster-hero theme. We experience the book through the eyes of a half-monster named Joan Chang-Hunt, whose life is turned upside down in a split second just as she’s about to go on a first date with her crush Nick Ward, the gorgeous history nerd from her workplace. Nick, the “hero” turns out to be the antagonist, though he still believes that his cause of eradicating monsters from the world is noble. Insert the classic “I have to kill you” trope that never fails here, but it gets better! We then meet another monster, devastatingly handsome Aaron Oliver, whose family is the enemy of the Hunts. To escape and defeat Nick, Joan is forced to team up with Aaron. In essence, the enemy of my enemy is my enemy. As they work together, Aaron and Joan begin to get closer, their hate slowly burning into something more. But wait, it gets better – Nick is Joan’s fated soulmate, written before time began.

Usually, I hate love triangles, but not in this book. I could feel the tension between both Nick and Aaron as Joan’s potential love interests and they both have a valid reason for being there. I have to applaud Vanessa Len for making me love a trope I hate, and making me empathise with both sides. And yes, I have picked a team (spoiler alert: it’s the one who knelt before her and slashed her leggings to tear holes in them for her in the nineties – this definitely beats fastening a dagger to the thigh for me).

Also, I am a sucker for powerful family houses, and this book has 12 of them in London, with the Hunts and the Olivers being two of them. Each house has a specific power, as stated in the nursery rhyme. I have a feeling that this is building for something bigger, since the only powers of the Hathaways, the Patels, and the Lius aside from the main two families were used in this book. I really hope we get to see more of them in the future.

As much as I love the core three, my favourite character has to be Ruth Hunt. She’s the comedic thief of the Hunt family, banned from several places for taking things she shouldn’t have. Her bright presence was a breath of fresh air on every page. She’s the polar opposite of Aaron, which made her friendship with Aaron was so fun to read. I have a feeling that her backstory is one of the most interesting ones yet.

The only major critique I have is that the magic system could have been developed a little more. I like the idea of each family having a specific power, and I really wish this had been explored in more depth as I found myself losing track of which family had which power. Even with the Hunts, I didn’t really understand what their power was until somewhere around the third quarter. I also wish the lore had been introduced earlier, because the segue into the monster history felt a little too sudden.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and my inner teenager rejoices at finally having the representation she did not have. Vanessa Len’s light writing is easy to digest, which makes it easier to be absorbed into this world. This book transported me to fictional London, and I would love to see more of Joan’s Malaysian side in the coming books. Looking forward to reading them!

4.5 out of 5 stars

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This book has some of my absolute favourite tropes so it's no wonder I adored every second of it!

The story starts with a young Joan wishing to be a superhero only to be laughed at by her grandma who tells her no, she can't be a superhero. Because she's a MONSTER. It takes until her teen years for her to find out that grandma wasn't joking with her, but actually telling the truth.

The actual plot of the story is a simple one: Joan's family are in danger and she's desperate to save them. But just the simple fact that she's a monster, not a hero, turns everything on its head. There is so much that happens in this story but I don't want to talk about it all to much because I'd hate to spoilt the experience for anyone. I will say that I loved the underground world of monsters, all the different families and what they could do, everything was so unique and fascinating I couldn't wait to read more.

My absolure favourite aspect of the book was definitely how morally gray everything was, the way Len explored the themes of good and evil in this book was perfect. The struggle Joan has over doing what is right and helping her family was so well played out you couldn't help but root for every choice she made, be it bad or good. She was such a strong, determined young woman and I loved seeing her journey to save her family.

The other characters too were amazing. I've fully fallen in love with Aaron and I'm desperately hoping he plays a large part in book two. I need more of his aloof, disgruntled ways!

Every character was well developed and it really is hard to hate even the antagonist because you know his reasoning and you understand why he's acting the way he is. There are certain scenes that will absolutely tear your heart out and others that will have you gasping at the page.

In short this blew me away, that ending was STUNNING. I fully expect this book to become one of the big fantasy reads of 2022 and I can't wait for see what Len writes next!

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Thank you to Netgalley and to Hodder & Stoughton for the arc.

Sixteen year old Joan finds her world turned upside down when she discovers that she's a 'monster'. Not the kind of monsters that live under your bed - these are people, immortals, who are able to take time from mortals, thus keeping themselves alive.

Joan first discovers her secret after she accidentally steals time from her neighbour and from there everything spirals out of control. She finds herself involved in a war between monsters and the 'hero' who is destined to kill all monsters. If that isn't the kicker, the hero turns out to be the boy she's been crushing on. Forced into hiding with another monster from a rival family, Joan has to quickly learn what it means to be a monster if she's to save her family and the fate of every monster living in the world before Nick can destroy them all. All while battling her feelings for him and her budding friendship with Aaron.

I really enjoyed the book. It was fun rooting for the 'bad guys' and hoping the hero failed.

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“In a way, Joan had always known what she’d have to do.”

Thank you to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place. But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down. As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. 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.

Joan is someone who has been kept in the dark before suddenly being thrust into the light and expected to cope. Her family have kept secrets from her and now she must deal with the consequences of that. Seeing her slowly understand the monster side of herself is great as she doesn’t just jump in with both feet and accept everything. She questions actions and motives and considers how these new monstrous actions will affect others which I liked getting to see. It was a fresh perspective. Sure, there were moments where she frustrated me with some choices she made but it felt like a realistic journey and I was glad to go along with her.
Aaron has gone through a lot in his life and I just wanted to wrap him up in a hug and tell him it would be okay. He’s snarky yet gentle, brash yet kind. In other words, he’s rather perfect and I wouldn’t mind getting an Aaron Oliver in my life… There’s definitely never a dull moment when he is around.
We don’t see a massive amount of Nick throughout the story, though he is mentioned a lot. Appearances are certainly deceiving with him as he is not so sweet and innocent as we first believe. In the moments we do see Nick, I feel like we could have gotten a bit more from his character - just to see him really pop. He’s multi-faceted but we sadly only really see glimpses of this when he pops up. I would have loved to understand his motives just a little more so I could connect with him further.

Now this story gave me big LOKI vibes. Protecting the timelines, jumping place to place, seeing the implications of such a thing? Genius. Absolute genius. Len’s writing style is engaging and I found myself enjoying what I was reading each time I picked this up. I liked that the romance was a steady undertone throughout the course of the story before popping up a bit more at the end. It never felt like too much. There was a bit of a love triangle moment and whilst I usually roll my eyes a little at that (before enjoying it anyway because I’m a sucker for that sort of thing) I didn’t feel that way at all reading this as it was subtle and not too in your face. I’m looking forward to seeing what is next to come - especially after that ending!

Overall, Only a Monster is a thrilling story that pulls you in and traps you in the best way.


Thank you again to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an advanced copy of this book. Review will be live on my blog on release day.

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I didn't think I'd give another book five stars before the end of 2021, but here we are!

Initially I picked this up because I was in the mood for some fantasy, and when I saw that this was enemies-to-lovers I was bursting to start this. Although I have to say I thought the enemies to lovers was sort of done twice? But one done better than the other…

We begin when Joan accidentally travels in time and finds out who (or rather what) she really is. A monster. Part of twelve powerful families in London, Joan must now team up with a rival family's shunned heir to solve a mystery that puts every monster at risk.

I just fell into such a deep, addictive state when I started reading this book. The pace started off so well and only got better. The banter between Ruth and Aaron was hilarious! I didn't like Aaron at the beginning- I felt like we didn't get much from him, except the obvious issues with his father and that he isn't as hateful of the Hunt family as his father is. I really started rooting for them, until I realised her sort-of-ex was still in the picture?? And then I started shipping Joan with Nick instead, because damn their chemistry was just so sizzling- I was hooked and sadly there was no going back. I forgot the synopsis of this book, so it was a shock to find out Nick was actually a monster-slayer and at such a crucial time too!

Joan was a really flawed and intriguing protagonist. I really started loving her the more I read. She does make some questionable decisions and she's not one of those girls who's automatically good at every new task, which was refreshing to read. The fact that she's supposed to be a monster did seem a little underwhelming though. I expected monsters in this book to be darker than they were. Other than that, I did really like the mechanics of time travel and the magic system.

The writing was great! I did think that sometimes it jumped from one scene to another too fast, and it took me a while to get my bearings, but once I did, I was drawn in so deeply, it was hard to put this book down. The author actually shows her grieving and doesn't just brush it off as the book progresses. No spoilers, but when I hit the 80% mark, I quite literally couldn't look away from the page! So much was happening, and I still don't know how I feel about that ending…

The monster families each have different powers, and it was so cool reading about them! This was more like a sci-fi fantasy blend, and wow the time travel aspect is one of the best I've ever read (and I'm not just saying that!). The travelling in time, paired with the 'meet my younger loved ones' was just beautifully done. The author really knows how to keep a scene tension-filled, enough that you're actually holding your breath and can't read the words fast enough. I did like the romance, although it wasn't a massive part of the book… or was it? This is one of those stories where you want to go into it knowing as little as possible!

So, choose your poison:

1. Friends to lovers to enemies to maybe lovers?


2. Enemies to friends to maybe lovers?

I honestly cannot wait for the next book!! Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for an e-arc :)

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Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for providing me with an E-ARC in exchange for my honest review

When I saw this book being was for fans of This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab, I instantly picked it up since TSS has been a 2021 favourite read, and Only a Monster did not disappoint.

Oh my god I loved this book so much. I was hooked from the beginning. I loved the characters, the setting... everything. I was a bit confused with a couple of things, but that confusion was easily resolved with further reading and the odd re-reading of a passage.

I absolutely loved everything between our MC and the love interest(s) and our MC and the enemy(/enemies). It was just ugh, both frustrating and everything I wanted at the same time.

This is a solid debut and yes, I will be making everyone read it when it comes out.

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Firstly, Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I very rarely find myself enjoying YA fantasy recently without being irked by the decisions of the characters but this was an exception.

My favorite aspect might be how open to interpretation so many different parts of the story was. If you pull out of context the mechanism of their powers, they don't really seem that bad and worthy to be called "monsters". However, if you actually think about the nature of it and how its meant to work… they definitely are monsters and Vanessa Len does nothing to make it sound right. Which I loved. Because she was still able to humanize the characters without compensating for the fact that what they do is harmful to people who aren't them.
I was so affected by this story and it ended on a very destroying, heart-throbbing, and fulfilling note but also, I need the second book, like, yesterday. I have not hyped a YA Fantasy like this in so long but Vanessa Lee honestly deserves all the praise and excitement I can muster.

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Wow! What a book!

Joan is a monster! There is a hero who’s job it is is to rid the world of all monsters. They can’t survive. They can’t be allowed to keep taking from humans and not be punished. The 12 families of London will suffer like they have never suffered before.

This book is amazing! The writing has you hooked from page one; the descriptions of the characters, the powers, the rules it’s so good. There are so many characters that you grow to love the more their traits and characters are unwound through the book. Aaron has my heart! I really hope there is more to come from this world! I already want to dive back in! Phenomenal!

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book but i was so pleasantly surprised!! I was glued to the story from beginning to end and what a ride it was.
The story was paced really well which never left you bored and well the story itself was just so good!

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I've grown pretty weary of all the generic YA fantasy I've read this year, so I really didn't see coming how much I would like this. I'm not gonna lie, the blurb sounded totally cliché YA to me - all the more to my delight the book really surprised me with originality and great writing.

I was just planning to read the first couple of pages into it to see if it was for me, not expecting much, but somehow I found myself incapable of putting it down. It really drew me into the story right from the start and I ended up reading all of it in two sittings.

It has so much going for itself that I enjoy in a good fantasy novel: lovable morally grey characters, unlikely reluctant companions teaming up for a heist, a really cool time travel magic system, a diagon alley-esque parallel space in London, yearning, betrayal and fast-paced action. Best YA book I've read in a while.

I'm not one to give out 5 stars easily, but honestly I loved it from beginning to end and can't wait for the next book.

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Wow this book blew me away. It has such a unique magic/power system, I loved our main character, even if she is a monster. I read this book over 2 days and couldn’t put it down. I’m obsessed with Aaron so Joan better find him again!

The romance was amazing and I didn’t expect Joan to do what she did in the end, it was a huge sacrifice. The monster court was fascinating and I could picture every part of it. Loved it!!!

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Only A Monster is Vanessa Len’s marvelous debut, a brilliant take on the chosen one trope with incredible characters and an exquisite use of time travel. Trust me when I say that the Doctor Who vibes were so perfect that, as a life-long fan, it was impossible to not fall in love with this book.

The world-building is truly exceptional: from the viciously fascinating idea of human-looking monsters, who are able to time travel by stealing life from real humans and have different powers categorized by families; to a brilliant take on the classic-sounding myth of a human hero destined to kill monsters, whose adventures get often told as children bed-stories. And what is probably the most original detail is that the point of view of the narration is the one of who is usually meant to be the villain, the “monster”.
This creates the perfect setting for an intriguing and fast-paced story, that also takes the time to craft and develop well-rounded characters.

While all the secondary characters are amazing (especially that stunning and grumpy marble-made creature who is named Aaron Oliver and owns my heart) and Frankie the dog (yes, THERE IS A SMALL DOG) is the cutest thing, Joan, the main character, is simply stunningly written.
It’s heartbreaking to see how much the events of the beginning impact her throughout the curse of the book, turning the sweet young girl of the beginning into someone ready to go to hell and back for those she cares about: she is blindly guided by her mission, and even if this may make her appear as annoying, it is actually extremely realistic. And yet Joan never loses her essence, always yearning for peace, for a kind of quiet love that is not inherently romantic (the focus on family, both by blood and by choice, was such a lovely element).

The revelations and plot twists in the final chapters were so brilliant that they completely took me by surprise and left me utterly speechless- to say I’m excited about the sequel would be an understatement.

I totally recommend Only A Monster to everyone looking for an immersive fantasy novel with innovative elements and don’t mind the hypothesis of being slightly obsessed with a single book for months.

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'Only a Monster' was one of my most anticipated releases for this year, and it delivered on every front. The idea of a story told from a monster's perspective isn't entirely unique, yet I've never seen anybody pull it off as well as Vanessa Len did. Throughout the book it was acknowledged how dark and horrifying the monster power truly is. No excuses were made and our main character, Joan, had to deal with a lot of emotions surrounding her power and her use of it.

I LOVED the setup of the individual monster families. Each family having their own unique additional power/gift was so clever and I love the way it was utilised throughout.

The plot was so well written. It was tense, exciting, dark and mysterious, and it really kept me wondering what would happen next.

The characters were beautifully written. When writing a book from the perspective of monsters fighting against heroes, it's easy to try to idolise one and villainise the other. Len didn't do this. Each side had depth and motive, and each side had a certain amount of sympathy for the other. Without spoiling anything, the ending was one of the most satisfying yet difficult endings I've read in a long time.

This book really has it all.
Enemy soulmates, time travel (that actually makes sense!! take notes, action films!!), twists and turns, fully developed characters with questionable morals, a wonderful ending that just leaves you wanting more?? What more could you possibly ask of a book?

The only reason I docked .5 stars was because I found the writing to be a little basic at times and it was a little difficult for me to get into the flow of the story at the beginning. Other than that, I loved it, and I will be singing its praises.

Look out for this one, it isn't one you want to miss.

--Rated 4.5/5 and rounded up--

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Absolutely adored this book! It had me hooked from the beginning and I loved the idea of this one, a story where the hero is the villain? YES!

I flew through this one, I liked the characters and the plot had me on the edge of my seat and I still want more, I'm excited for book two of this one!

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On her way to her first date with the guy she had a major crush on, Joan makes a terrible discovery. Joan steals time from a stranger and travels to the future. When she realises what she has done, she also comes to terms with her family’s hidden truth, which until that day they sounded just like fairytales her grandma used to tell. Joan is half-human and half-monster. Her family on her mother’s side are monsters who have the power to steal time from humans. And if the tales about monsters are true, Joan will soon discover that the myth about a hero born to kill all the monsters is true as well.

I went in completely blind to this story – truth be told, I didn’t read the synopsis and I was drawn to the story just from the title. This book was absolutely incredible and went beyond all my expectations, I am trying to put down all my feelings here, but this story made me so excited it will be hard to make sense of this review. There are so many aspects of this story that made this book worth reading and a unique urban YA fantasy title.

Let’s start with the world-building, the story is set in London, and I loved the historical details added to the background. Then you add the time travel component, so you move in between different times and hidden areas of London opened only for monsters. That was enough to blow up my mind, as I am a massive sucker for time travel. What is great about Only a Monster is that time travel is not used as a plot device like in your usual science fiction/fantasy story, but it’s so well incorporated in the magic system that it’s organically part of the plot and the world of this story.

I need to stop here a little bit. As I said, I love time travel stories, and I had to force myself to not overthink certain things, as I am afraid not every time travel bits make sense (I’m not saying scientifically but plot wise). However, the fast-paced and gasp-moments filled story made it easy to just move on certain parts and focus on the developing events.

I was so wrapped around in this whirlwind of plot twists and characters, I happily forgot about the small flaws. The characters definitely compensate for it. The characters made me think about All of Us Villains, as that book promised morally grey characters but I thought they were not villainous enough. Only a Monster is the perfect example of how blurring the lines between good and evil should be done. Joan is from a monster family and she recognises that what her family does is not right, it’s evil. Vanessa Len makes you question if the hero, the supposed villain of this story, who is after Joan and Joan’s family, is actually the bad guy here.

I can’t leave out the enemies-to-lovers trope, which is another fantastic element of this story, or, maybe should I say tormenting part of the story? Haha, I am just going to say, I was rooting for someone else and the ending destroyed me. I am not a massive reader of urban fantasy, but I devoured this book. It’s really difficult to put down this story and it got me so excited to read a sequel. While the story has its own (evil) conclusion (Vaness Len is evil, she will break your heart), there are still so many things left unsaid and parts of this world to explore and unravel. It’s an incredibly exciting debut, which has a perfect setup for what seems to be an even more incredible trilogy and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free e-arc in exchange for an honest review!

Oh wow, I think this might be my favourite fantasy YA of all time maybe?
Vanessa Len has done such a fantastic job at fleshing out the characters and the worldbuilding was truly phenomenal, I couldn't put the book down!!

Only A Monster throws you right into the action within the first few chapters and only gets more twisty and emotional from there.
If you like;
Urban Fantasy
Morally Grey Characters
Time Travel
star-crossed lovers

then you will love Only a Monster!!
5/5 for this masterpiece!

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Rooting for the Monster and NOT the Hero? Yes, Please!
However, this book, like the monsters & hero themselves, isn't all it appears to be.

Joan is your average nerdy teen, into history and boys, well one boy, her gorgeous co-worker, Nick. And when she finally gets to go on a date with him, everything seems perfect. Whilst waiting for Nick at a cafe, Joan has a bizarre encounter and, in the blink of an eye, day turns to night. Confused, Joan makes her way home. Upon returning home, her Gran is waiting up and begins to tell Joan the truth. She is a Monster.
The next day, still trying to understand, she heads for the one place she loves the most, Holland House. Knowing Nick will be there, she wants to make amends for yesterday, but when Monsters appear out of thin air in front of them, things take a devastating turn and suddenly Joan is left scared, injured and face to face with The Monster Slayer!
Now, to save her family, Joan is forced to rely on and trust Aaron Oliver, a fellow monster, but from a family that hates Joans. Can they work together to save their families or will the Hero win?

What a spectacular story. On several occasions throughout this book, the chapters leave you on mini cliff-hangers meaning you couldn't put it down. You HAD to read on. You HAD to know what was going to happen. It completely captivated me.
Traveling with Joan and her companions through time, picking up pieces of the puzzle, trying desperately along with them, to put them all together and solve the mystery that would save not only Joan's family, but all monster families. It is brilliant.

I love that each monster family have their own power and how we get to see some of them being used. The surprising revelations and twists that happen. I didn't even begin trying to predict how this story would unfold, I just loved having the same lightbulb moments that the beautiful array of characters had. The characters? Oh! Amazing! I loved them all. And I know everyone is going to love Joan & Aaron, but I do have a special place in my heart for Tom. I just can't resist the sulky drunk.

Starting the year off with this has me buzzing for the reading year ahead. An instant hit and definitely going to be one of the best books this year. Yeah, I said it! I know it's only January, but it's so different (for me) and amazing. I am so blessed to have read it and can't wait until I can have a physical copy.

I originally preferred the US cover over the UK one, but after reading the book I now LOVE the UK.

Thank you so much, NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the gift of an ARC eBook.
This is my honest review I am leaving it voluntarily

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There’s so many things I want to say about this book and writing a coherent review that doesn’t just scream about how much I love this book - and how I want to re-read it already - is difficult. There’s just so much I want to say.

Read this book.

You won’t regret it.

This book was incredible and has easily become one of my favourite books of all time.

Something which is so refreshing, for me, is just how easy it is to read. In recent times, fantasy novels have become so complex and it takes 300 pages just to understand the world it’s set in. This book is the complete opposite of that. It only takes a couple of chapters for the plot to take off and with a bang. The plot continuously builds the drama up and includes twists I didn’t see coming.

The characters are diverse and individually amazing, even though the two characters I’m rooting for to get together haven’t, yet, I’m holding out hope for the next book(s).

This book has everything. Enemies-to-lovers, slow burn. Time travel. Amazing character dynamics. Incredible writing and a magical system that I’ve fallen in love with.

I can’t wait for this book to come out for everyone to read and more importantly, to see you fall in love with it too!

“Real monsters look like me and you.”

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OK, so this wasn't what I expected & I absolutely loved it. What a book to start 2022 off with & a great 1st part of a trilogy.
The characters, the world, the magic it has everything you need from a YA book.
Joan is 16 years old, she volunteers at a museum & is about to go on her 1st date with her crush, but she doesn't make it. The story follows Joan discovering who she really is & the consequences that come with that.

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This urban fantasy novel, set in London, subverts tropes regarding monsters and heroes through the perspective of a protagonist who is technically on the villain’s side. Yet I was always rooting for Joan throughout as she questions her allies' morally ambiguous actions, and the way she is driven by understandable desires to help her family.
Firstly, from a representation standpoint -- I was really excited to discover another upcoming speculative fiction book by an Asian Australian author. It really makes a difference to see the possibilities as a writer through real authors, as well as within their stories. Joan Chang-Hunt's biracial Malaysian Chinese/English background was an added dimension to the story that linked in with how she was also half monster and half human. And I enjoyed the presence of British Chinese characters later on in the story, like the Liu family with their status and important role in the plot.
Another highlight was the time travel premise and how that created so much tension in the adventure that unfolds, and all the characters' attempts to fix things. The worldbuilding really captivated me, and is also great at setting things up for future books (this is going to be a trilogy).
The other key aspect of the story involves star-crossed lovers and the gradual revelation of Joan and Nick's backstories. Their unique powers and relationship lead to a particularly emotional climax, filled with tensions and longing.
Highly recommended!

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You know that feeling when you're a child and you get completely transported into a book? That feeling is so hard to recreate as an adult, but I felt the same way reading this. I was going to read a little bit before bed, because I'd found myself immediately intrigued when I started it, and I ended up staying up late to finish it, because I was just so absorbed in it, I couldn't bring myself to put it down.

I loved LOVED this book being told from the point of view of a monster, and how it explored whether heroes are actually that good, or if it's just a matter of perspective. I also ADORED the monsters' ability, and how it was used in the book - it felt so well thought-out.

I have to say I didn't like the romance as much - I was rooting for a romance with someone else. But I'm not even docking points for that, because I genuinely can't remember the last time a book pulled me in so much.

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4.5/5 stars rounded up.

Sixteen-year-old Joan Chang-Hunt is nervous-excited. She is spending the summer with her family in London and volunteering at historic building, Holland House. She is preparing for a date with Nick, her co-volunteer at Holland House, who she has been drawn to since they first met. But on the day of the date, an accident with a neighbour leads her to discover that she and her family are monsters with powers that can harm humans and more. Soon after, she finds out that Nick isn't all he seemed either.

Only A Monster is an explosive start to what is going to be a fantastic YA fantasy series. It had so many elements I loved: the hidden monster world-building, the system of powers, the hierarchies of the monster families and the Court, the historical elements and the time travel.

The time travel element deserves special attention. [author:Vanessa Len|20212262] wove it into this story with what feels like such ease but must have taken a heap of work. Time travel is notoriously derided in many narratives as being nonsensical or lazy. But it's described so effectively in Only A Monster, with clarifying details on its mechanics showing up as a natural part of the story. I thought this was so masterful.

If I have small bugbears: I would have preferred the monsters to be called something other than monsters...I'm not really sure why.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of Only A Monster.

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Only a Monster was possibly my last read of 2021 and what a high to end on! This book has it all, morally conflicted, grey characters, monsters, time travel, romance, action and twists and it’s so easy to read you can easily find yourself sitting down and reading it in one sitting.

The time travel was a great touch (no pun) mostly because time travel was 1993 and was more nostalgic than anything, it was a rather charming touch, mostly because I’m old enough to actually remember it. I particularly loved how the Rachel haircut was used as a measurement of time :D I usually don’t like time travel in books because it’s usually confusing to my little brain, and I’ll admit the rules are a little unclear on this one, but it’s a fun added feature that brings something more to the book.

I enjoyed that the characters are all morally grey, essentially this isn’t a book about monsters but a book about right and wrong, the choices we make, the paths we are taken down and what that makes us because of it all. Joan and supporting characters Ruth, Aaron and Tom are monsters who come across kind, Nick is a ‘hero’ but a villain to the plot (a twist I kinda wish wasn’t in the synopsis). No character is simply good or bad, each is layered, each has a story, whether told or to be told (I hope). The main dark trait of being a monster (or possibly the only one, which doesn’t seem very monstrous) is to time travel, they touch the neck of a human and steal time from them to then use for travelling. This is a choice and absolutely not a kind one, a moral conflict that Joan agonises over, but Aaron, Tom and Ruth are described as kind, loving characters whose thoughts on abusing people this way aren’t really covered. Again I hope this is changed going forwards, but I just really wanted to know why these 3 think it’s OK to do that when they do see, to have strong ideas of right and wrong elsewhere. They aren’t monsters, they choose to do cruel things for selfish gain, really no monster need do what they do in fact. Monsters are simply people with another weapon that some choose to use to hurt others - a very human quality. Nick, on the other hand, is a complex character that you won’t necessarily support (although I hate that I love him) but you will grow to understand as the book goes on and I need more of him, my tortured boy who had no choice :(

I appreciate this is only book 1 and hopefully as the series continues, this is focused on, but what is a monster?? It’s such a vague term used in this book and seems a very human term, possibly even a slur, surely there must be an actual name not originating from humans?. Again it is mentioned in this book that Joan has been kept in the dark about the rules etc of being a monster so I hope as an audience we learn more with her, so this isn’t a criticism but merely a hope. Gifts are mentioned but not nearly enough, what other strengths or weaknesses are there? How did monsters come to be? What exactly is Joan’s gift??

I’m really looking forward to the next instalment. although for my sanity I’m glad the book didn’t end on a cliffhanger. For book 2 I need to understand Aaron better. I need to spend more time with Joan and I need Nick to be happy!!!! Thank you NetGalley for the review copy :’j

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Only a Monster follows the main character, Joan, as she’s thrown head first into the world of monsters from her mother’s side, whilst still being half-human thanks to her dad’s side.

So… monsters. I wouldn’t mind being a “monster” if I didn’t have to hurt anyone to do it? The monster world is split up by families who each have their own special powers. But the one defining trait is the one that I personally adored the most… they can all time travel. However, to do this they have to take time from a human, which is what makes them monstrous.

“Real monsters look like me and you.”
Being half-monster, Joan discovers she can do this very early into the story through an accident but had not been warned of it prior. Naturally, she’s good-hearted so she feels terrible when she first does it and it messes with her plans for a date with a mysterious yet kind guy called Nick (who Joan just so happens to have been drawn to the entire time she’s been working with him at Holland House).

When she misses her date with Nick she feels terrible, so she heads to Holland House to see about making amends and also because she just really needs to talk to someone. But she can’t tell him about monsters, because humans aren’t supposed to know about them and their secret ways. As the synopsis says, she quickly discovers that Nick is, in fact, a monster slayer. 100% committed to killing every single monster family in London.

“You’re a hero and I’m a monster. There’s only one way that story ever ends.”
Events occur, and Joan is left on the run with a boy called Aaron Oliver, from a rival monster family who normally can’t stand all of the Hunt family (Joan’s). Whereas Joan is disgusted in the fact she’s a monster, Aaron thinks it makes him better than humans. He has a super arrogant persona at first but as the story continued there were a lot of moments where I fell a little in love with him.

Joan being new to the monster world is excellent for the reader, because her fellow gang explains things to her throughout and so the reader learns as she does. Her amazement at times also leads to her pointing out a lot of historical things, so if you’re a fan of history you’ll definitely appreciate these little anecdotes at times!

I’m so looking forward to more from this world, there were a few things left out in the open by the end of this first instalment and I just can’t wait to see where Len takes the next two books! The world she’s created is expansive and full of possibility. It’s essentially kind of like the multiverse but with characters more alike to villains than superheroes?

One thing I found in particular was that, even with the self-awareness of being a monster, you still like the majority of the characters you meet? Naturally, some take their namesake a little too seriously and there are silly things like hatred between particular families for no reason other than they’re different… but that’s [unfortunately] pretty standard for the world we live in and I think it helped to make it feel more like a contemporary fantasy through that? This did help with character development for Aaron in particular though. As an Oliver, he really shouldn’t care about Joan in any way but… it’s very clear he cares anyway.

There are also families that are just straight up adorable, the Liu family’s defining trait is that they “remember” everything and, at least for the members we meet, they’re helpful regardless of the family that comes to them (albeit everyone wants a favour for a favour, which, again, is just pretty humanlike)!

I hope we get to see more of each family in the next books, and maybe even spin off stories? The potential is definitely there for a multitude of stories, and I think this book is going to appeal to a lot of readers!

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I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

I’m still trying to recover from this book to be honest but will do my best to give it a review.

This book focuses on the main character of Joan, half of her family are monsters and half human. However, in fairy tales the mo stars are always defeated by the hero… monsters are seen as all bad and heroes all good… that is until you read this book. A magnificent time travelling, tense and mysterious adventure that has wonderful work building and flash backs to the 90s … but also explores the idea of morality, the grey areas that are between the black and white fairy tale caricatures we are taught as a child. It explores the idea of sacrifice, but also what it means to really be a monster or a hero.

The book feature really dark themes and leaves you constantly on the edge of your seat wanting to read more. The ending… devastating and shocking! But I don’t think I wanted this to end, an amazing book and can’t wait to read more from this author!

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Only a monster can kill a hero...

I absolutely loved this book, I love the way Vanessa Len's gorgeous writing blurs the line between good and evil, hero and villain, monster and slayer, it had me back and forth so much on who's side I'm on. The time travel theme is absolutely magical, it reminds me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place and brought back the excitement and nostalgia of discovering a really good adventure story, I didn't want it to end. One scene in particular felt like a gentle nod to The Chronicles of Narnia, I'm not sure if it's intentional but it made me so happy! I really like these characters, the unlikely allegiances made for some humourous moments and the gorgeous mix of urban and magical settings is perfect, I can't wait for the next book.

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Thank you for Netgalley and the Publisher for an e-arc in exchange for my honest review.

I should start with saying that the time-travel trope is not my favourite by any means. So I am really happy that my brain processed the blurb only as in going back in time and getting stuck there, sort of. Otherwise I might've skipped this book and I would've robbed myself of reading this amazing story.

I will try to keep this review completely spoiler free and talk about my feelings more than the storyline.
The story started out with a B A N G, and was very fast paced. I was in somewhat of a shock because of what I read. As more of the truth about Joan's heritage comes out we get to understand more and more about the very complex, multilayered world of monsters and the rules they have to abide by. I loved that Joan and us readers went through this unveiling simultaniously, because Joan had zero knowledge herself. It really made me feel as if I was part of this journey.
The characters were spot on and most of them were morally questionable at times (yay!) like they should be as monsters. Also because their characters were so multifaceted it left room to be surprised by their actions and intents.

I do however had a few (minor, but present) issues. One of the rules of the monster world and time travel just didn't add up with the storyline, at least for me and it could very well be that I misunderstood something, but it bugged me. The other one was the uneven pacing, the book starts out strong and slows down too much for too long. Also the hidden power/ending, it was a teeny-tiny bit predictable. But I am unsure if it was supposed to be something we should not figure out.

Still the ending came for us with a vengeance, I loved it and it made me want to read more asap.
Hats down to the author because this was a great debut!

4.5/5 stars

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May contain spoilers.....
First things first, when are you ever on the monsters side? Today, tonight and now, that's when.
When the hero is the villian and the monster is the main character that you want to get the happy ending, it should be wrong. But for this book it sits just right.

I was gripped from the first page, need this book to be released to make all my book friends read this. I did not want this story to end

If you want to imagine a tv show or movie, think Jumper, or Fringe, but with monsters, magic, and the multi verse.

I so wanted Joan to change the timeline, wanted her to get her happy ending but the ending crushed me. She flipped a coin, became the hero and was so lonely.

I am hopefully for a book two. This book was emmence

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This book was So Addictively good. It was fast paced and anxiety inducing that I had to put the book down at times, even though I didn’t want to put it down, because I was scared for Joan.
The stakes were high and felt genuine. The characters all felt fleshed out, and the different family powers were so interesting, I hope we learn more and see more of this in future books.
The plot was a wild ride, I did not guess what was going to happen or where it was going, which is always a bonus.
And time travelling what? Did not expect that, I love time travelling in books. So this was just another element to this book that I loved. I’m definitely planing on continuing this series! Because I wanna see what’s happened to some of the other characters, cough, Aaron.

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Firstly this is a great new concept for a new young adult fantasy.

An imaginative and exciting read.

Joan has been brought up being told she is a monster… but never truly believes she is. Until Joan arrives for a date and one moment she is waiting and the next? 
She’s missed the entire day.

When Joan goes home to her family, her life starts to unravel…

Love, loss and a little bit of monster magic.. I loved this book and the twists and turns.

The very natural LGBTQ+ characters in this melted my heart. I am eager to read the next book!

I am so grateful to have been able to read this one early. A big thank you to NetGalley, Vanessa Len and Hodder and Stoughton for sharing the E-arc and allowing me to read it.

Make sure to read this book as soon as you can.
Available on: 17 February 2022

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Vanessa Len woke up one day and thought, Hey, you know what YA fantasy needs? a mass murdering love interest who wants to kill the heroine’s family and another love interest who left her to die one time, as a little treat. And she was RIGHT. This book took me by complete surprise and I loved every minute of it. Although the beginning starts out as your typical cliché YA fantasy with the heroine finding out that all along they were secretly special and the life they have known is a lie, it very quickly does a complete u-turn and starts throwing in plot twists galore. The whole thing is just so exciting to read, and my favourite thing about it was probably just how much it reminded me of being a teenager reading YA fantasy for the first time again.

The main draw of Only a Monster is the new perspective of ‘monsters’ within a fantasy story and the time travel. Because everyone loves a bit of time travel, right? Vanessa has crafted a world that sits upon the one we already know and brought it alive with a fast-paced plot and intriguing characters you can’t help but root for. Urban fantasy is so compelling when done right, the magical sitting prettily beside the mundane, and Only a Monster does it so right. In urban fantasy more than any other type of fantasy, the story really suffers when the details aren’t quite right. For instance, if your main character is walking along a street that actually exists and people in the real world have walked the same steps, seen the same sights, physically experienced that world and then what you’ve written gives a completely different impression? It’s going to be weird and, to be honest, probably bad. But Vanessa’s descriptions of London are so vibrant without bogging us down with too many details. It feels like the city I’ve wandered and, even better, the fantasy elements are incorporated beautifully.

A lot of the success can be attributed to the writing, balancing a fast pace with enough information to keep me intrigued. Everything that started out stereotypical to the genre was turned upside down and twisted, played with in a way that really made the main character’s journey feel deeply fulfilling. Vanessa gave a witty and interesting voice to Joan, who is so headstrong and out of her depth that she very easily could have veered into annoying territory, but instead she’s loveable, tenacious and funny, especially when interacting with Aaron, the boy from a rival family that she’s forced to work with.

There’s a really strong supporting cast and they offered a lot more to the table in terms of how invested I found I could get in them than I first anticipated. Additionally, there are achillean side characters who I love so much I could read a whole book series just about them. The secondary characters are diverse in a way that made the real-world part of the urban fantasy feel even more believable, and they were all developed well within just this one book so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in book two (also kind of terrified – who knows how Vanessa will hurt me with that one).

My favourite part of the whole thing though is how it deconstructs the idea of the monster and the hero within fantasy stories, flipping the roles, making us root for the ‘monster’ character. I always love when a fantasy pushes itself beyond the ideas of good and evil, and without giving anything away, we really got to see that from Only a Monster. I’m looking forward to seeing what the sequel does with this too, building upon the questions and foundations laid in this first book to really get to the beating heart of Joan’s moral dilemmas. There’s also some interesting parallels made between Joan’s identity as both half-monster/half-human and half-Chinese/half-English, and I thought Vanessa’s writing on Joan’s experiences of cultures that belong to her but she doesn’t understand in the exact same way someone raised totally immersed within those cultures would be was interesting and I loved that it was included, especially as an ownvoices story.

Only a Monster is not without its flaws, however. It’s just that I loved it so much I didn’t really care about any of them. There were some plot-related questions that I had that didn’t really make much sense when held under scrutiny, especially in regards to the time travel, and it has a tendency to flit around a bit too quickly from scene to scene in some cases but you know what? It was so, so, so much fun.

Both of the main potential relationships are enemies/rivals to lovers and I don’t know what I did to deserve this but here I am. Personally I’m rooting for the romance that I don’t think is going to be endgame and I’m still obsessed, although who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised and my ship will sail off into the sunset by book three.

I’m just sad I finished so quickly and can’t believe I now have to wait for the sequel, especially after an absolutely amazing ending. If you love urban fantasy, messy romances and reading about rude, snobby boys and complicated, mass-murdering love interests, be sure to pick up Only a Monster.

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Wow. it takes a lot for something to make me cry but wow this one got me in the feels!!

The world building, the plot, the characters, everything was just perfect. This book kept me engaged through the whole read and i enjoyed every second of it.

Not sure how im going to survive the rest of the series after that ending though!

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Thank you Vanessa and NetGalley for this eARC. So... I inhaled this amazing book. It is fast paced, action packed, kept me on the edge of my seat, and an absolute page turner. The plot is unique but the execution just brings it to a whole other level. The writing was descriptive and I loved the concept of a multi-verse, monsters with magic, time-travel, with the star-crossed lovers trope. There is also a diverse cast - biracial main character and LGBTQ+ rep. I was fully immersed in the world and when it came to end… I went “OMG that’s it? I need more!!” This is an amazing debut and a great start t o the trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I can’t wait to have a hard copy in my hands - the cover is absolutely stunning!

I am now very invested in Joan’s journey and would like to delve deeper into the Monster Court and meet the beloved characters once again in Book 2. I’m Book 2, am wondering if there will be a love triangle, will we meet the king? Is her gran going to teach her now? What about Nick and Aaron?

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Joan loves her family and when they are attacked, she turns everything she knows upside down to make things right. Although they are monsters, she knows they are good people, worth saving. Joan follows her heart, travelling through London in different time zones to run from the 'hero ' intent on killing her to save herself and those she loves.

This book was really pacey. It had some interesting ideas and I couldn't put it down. The world, the rules of monster families, the characters and London in different times all worked to make a gripping read. Very enjoyable and a bit different. Glad I read it.

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A kind thank you to the publisher for the e-ARC.

Only A Monster is an absolutely mesmerizing story that grips you from the beginning and refuses to let you go. Utterly unique in its premise and with a clever plot, and a narrative that poses moral questions that reflect our society and beyond.

Joan was truly an impressive character. A girl who knows right from wrong and grapples between the love for her family, her identity, and her own moral compass. Joan's characterization and narration really showcased Vanessa Len's writing talent. Joan conveyed the meaning of being torn between ideals, the balance of being moral and being forced to do immoral things in order to survive and seeing what your family truly is and live with that truth. Joan is one of the best main characters I've read in a while because her truth was laid down on the page in a way that made it my truth. I'll go to any story, any place, any time with Joan, and that's not something I say with all main characters, even those in my favorite books.

Aaron was so intriguing. That's the word I'd use to describe him. He's beyond what his family tried to shape him into, and yet, he's also a true member of that family. He shares their values, he shares the same loyalties, and yet, his way of living is quite different from his father. He reminds me of Cardan in a way, "cruel-ish" yet not CRUEL despite the environment they lived in, if that makes sense. I really liked Aaron; he was sort of the voice of reason in the story.

The world-building was UNIQUE, and Vanessa Len did an amazing job not only while creating it but also while explaining it. I was never confused and always completely immersed and captivated by everything. The monster bloodlines and their powers, the hierarchies, the places where monsters could gather across time, the timelines, the notion of the hero; all worldbuilding elements were outstanding making the story all the more thrilling. I just found myself loving every new thing that came up.

The plot twists were what pushed this story to another dimension of epicness. I didn't know what was going to happen, and for the life of me, I couldn't tell how the story was going to end, and that's a BIG compliment because I'm notorious for spoiling the fun for myself.

Only a Monster blew me away in every possible way. What a book to debut with. I cannot wait for the sequel, and I will definitely buy and read any book written by Vanessa Len. Only a Monster is spectacular.

This is a YA fantasy book, so if someone says "this was too YA for me" we should all take it as a "Job well done, Vanessa Len. You wrote a great YA."

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I really want to thank Netgalley for providing me with a review copy of Only a Monster by Vanessa Len!

This book was the absolute perfect blend of everything needed in a YA fantasy novel. I cannot explain how much I enjoyed reading this and how much I love these characters.

Only a Monster follows the main character Joan who grew up knowing her parents were from completely different cultures. What she didn't know was that her mom's side of the family are monsters. Nobody explained this to her until an accident led her to use a talent that only monsters can use, causing an entire ripple effect to be set in motion.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who still wants to read it, but the tropes in this book are used in ways that make you want to know more about everyone instead of making you feel like the story has been told a million times. There are chosen ones, enemies forced to work together, heists, fancy balls, time travel, mysterious new abilities and so much more. If that sounds like something you would like, then please pick up this book. You will definitely not regret it!

I cannot wait to see what happens in the follow ups!

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Only a Monster is a title that caught my attention because of it's beautiful cover. I wasn't crazy about the premise but I saw some friends praising this book and I decided to give it a chance while keeping my expectations low.

Because of that, this ended up being a book that surprised me in many aspects, in the most positive way.

The writing was not the best at first, it was too much like many other books I've read and it didn't stand out, but it got better as the book went.

The magic system (or the monster system to be more exact) was so much more interesting than what it looks at first. The layers of complexity in the plot were very well done. I love time travel plots, so I'm naturally biased towards it, but it was done in a way I've never seen it before.

The plot was fast paced but not in a confusing type of way. I couldn't put this book down.

I wasn't a fan of the romance, but the way it ended I'm not sure you're supposed to be into it. I much prefer Aaron over Nick and I hope he and Joan become a thing in the next book in the series.

I'm really looking forward to the sequel, and I'm gonna definitely recommend to people once it comes out. It's a 2022 book people can't miss!

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In this book we follow Joan who’s spending the summer at her Gran’s place. She’s sixteen and is just about to go on a date with Nick, a nerdy boy that she’s had a crush on for some time.

But while she’s waiting for him to arrive for the date something strange happens, Joan appears to have missed the whole day, but she can’t remember a thing. That’s when Gran tells her the truth. Joan is a monster. And monsters can steal time from humans and travel through time.

As Joan tries to explain to Nick without telling him the truth, she learns something even worse. Nick isn’t just any human. He’s the hero that kills the monsters.

This was a huge and delightful surprise for me. This book had me hooked from the first chapter until the very end. I’m the kind of person who read in bed before I fall asleep, and this is the kind of book that makes me go to bed early just so I can read a little more. On top of that, I couldn’t put it down after I reached the 60% mark and had to finish the whole thing in one sitting.

The writing was good, at times perhaps a little repetitive and generic, but honestly none of that mattered. Because the hook, the stakes, the mystery, it was all so good that there wasn’t time to care about a few words or sentences here and there.

The pacing was just up my alley, fast and on point. There’s not much time to relax because the story keeps pulling you to the next stage. And I love this. There extremely few sentences, paragraphs etc that feels redundant. Everything that we read is important and matters and it makes it fun to read.

The plot was in one way a fairy standard hero vs monster kind of thing, only here we’re seeing things from the monster’s side. And it’s strange how the author manages to make these people lovable and understandable despite the fact that they steal time from humans to often time travel just for fun. I like the characters, they are flawed, they are fun, they are lovable.

There are few things I can say at this point that I don’t like about the book. It was a perfect read for “lazy minds” like mine. I don’t have to think too much about things, because that I need to know I’m being told, and I can just enjoy the ride. Just like I want it. And there are plenty of fascinating details about time travel and the rules of this world and what you can and cannot do. I find it so interesting.

There’s one thing that I would have wanted though, and that’s more. It ended in a satisfying way, but I would have wanted the epilogue to be longer, to go deeper into the effects of everything that has happened. I feels a little like we were left with a few loose ends, and I really would have wanted things to be a little more explained by the end.

But yes, a definite 5/5 stars for this book, and a strong recommendation to read it.

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Thank you to Netgalley and publishers for this eARC of Only A Monster

Only a Monster is a novel filled with adventure, horror and anguish.
Joan is a human and apparently now half a monster, for 17 years this was kept a secret from her. One accidental incident lets her into the secret and one fateful night change her life and world forever.

I loved Only A Monster, the premise of the plot is unique and well thought out. It was very cleverly put together and I haven't read anything like it before. It's new and refreshing, it's eye opening and gut wrenching. The Twists and turns blow you away, you're constantly on edge rooting for all the characters.

I loved all the characters, even Nick!
I also loved how the ending finished - I didn't see it coming and I felt like it was a great outcome for Joan. It did feel a little emotional on the flip side though.

I'd love a sequel to this novel as I really think it has great potential for a what happens next. Though saying that it is great and felt it ended satisfactory as a standalone.
I highly recommend this book!

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I am so glad we know this is a series because that ending left me totally needing more information on what’s going to happen next! If this were a standalone, the ending would have been a bit lacklustre but WOOOOO there’s more books coming I can’t WAIT. I can see the pain of reading ARCs now…you have to wait EVEN LONGER for others to read it and for the sequel to come around. TORTURE.

Anyway I loved the concept for this story. The hero vs the monster but who is the hero and who is the true monster? The underlying romance was really sweet too (but not the romance they describe this book to be, unless it develops more in the next few books).

The world building and magic was so in depth and well written that I have no complaints. The time travel was super cool to read about and I enjoyed every aspect. Every question you may have about time travel is answered and cleared up pretty quickly. (Hint: everything you have ever learned from Back to the Future is WRONG). Usually I get confused with time travel but don’t worry, Vanessa Lee made it perfectly complicated in such a simple way *chefs kiss*

I also loved how there were different powers for each of the different families and how they were showcased slowly throughout the book rather than all at once. They are all so creative and unique. I can’t wait to see the other families “show their hand (power?)” in the next book!

I really loved Joan. Dreaming to be a hero even though she was born a monster. She was conflicted and confused but also knew exactly what was the right thing to do. Nick….breaks my heart…I won’t say anything more. But the ANGST and CONFLICT is heartbreaking. Aaron was also such a sweetie. I need more scenes with him. His story and everything just gimme moreeeeee. Ruth was also deserves a mention for being so badass.

Also yay to the LGBTQ representation you see towards the end of the book 🙌

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It had been so long since I had read a book so unstoppably- like completely binge read it, without ever being bored for single second.

It was exactly what I had been craving for these past few weeks. I am a huge mood reader, so just sticking to set TBR never works for me. But the moment I picked up this book I was hooked.

“Monsters look like giant spiders,” Joan said. “Or like robots.” She’d seen enough cartoons to know. Gran sometimes told jokes without smiling. Maybe this was one of those times.
But Gran’s eyes weren’t shiny with a held-in joke. They were serious. “That’s pretend monsters,” she said. “Real monsters look like me and you.”

The plot moves at the speed of light- not a single boring moment or anywhere be at all where it seems like it's dragging.

The magic system was fascinating. It kinda reminded me of Doctor Strange, or maybe if you are a fan of time travel and timelines, then you'll have a lot of fun with that.

“Olivers see. Hunts hide. Nowaks live. Patels bind. Portellis open. Hathaways leash. Nightingales Take. Mtawalis keep. Argents sway. Alis seal. Griffiths reveal. But only the Lius remember.”

It also gives a twist to monsters by adding a vampire-like twist on their powers.
Another thing that Vanessa Len does differently is with love triangles. I think it's a common trope that frustrated some readers when in a love triangle, the girl always goes for the dark, broody guy who's not the nicest to her (*cough* darkling *cough*) instead of the actually-nice guy. Ok, sorry, I couldnt that more eloquently than that, but you know what I mean.

“I mean it,” she said. “You’re dead.”
He gave her his familiar solemn smile, the one that he’d given her all the time at the house. “Aren’t we all,” he said. “Somewhere on the timeline.”

Well, in the case of the this book, yes there's is a love triangle.
No, it's not a spoiler.
YESS, it's actually well-done.

And quite interestingly, I might say, neither of the guys are completely "good" or "bad". Both of them have very deceiving appearances and I was in a dilemma about who I'm rooting for, and only made up my mind at the end.

From what I can speculate, there is equal chance of her ending up with either of them and that is as frustrating as it is keeping me up on my toes.

“You’re a hero and I’m a monster,” she whispered. “There’s only one way that story ever ends.”

Another thing that I noticed was that even after the protagonist experiences a very tragic ordeal at the beginning of the book, she doesn't get a lot of time to just dwell in the magnitude of the situation well.
Not to say that they don't experience it at all, but she just doesn't get a lot of time to sit in their feelings and just go through it.

To be fair, it's more like whenever she tries to be sad, something goes wrong and she has to go up and running.

In a very unique subversion of tropes, this time we side with the monsters and try to save them instead of the hero. It is a pretty interesting dilemma since even though our protagonist, is a monster and the way they survive isn't exactly moral you want heard to succeed. It brings immense shades of gray that just add to the emotional turmoil.

“We believe that if people belonged together...then our timeline tries to repair itself by bringing them together. Over and over and over....”
"Like soulmates?"
"Yes. If you believe in fairy tales,"

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The world-building was UNIQUE, and Vanessa Len did an amazing job not only while creating it but also while explaining it. I was never confused and always completely immersed and captivated by everything. The monster bloodlines and their powers, the hierarchies, the places where monsters could gather across time, the timelines, the notion of the hero; all worldbuilding elements were outstanding making the story all the more thrilling. I just found myself loving every new thing that came up.

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Absolutely amazing! This book really blew me away, from the enchanting fantasy elements to the romance and familial relationships this is now in the running to be one of my fave YA fantasy books - ever. I can't wait for the sequel!

I really appreciated the authors delicate world building, that was easy to digest and follow with remarkable similarities in vibe to Harry Potter and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The similarities