Only A Monster by Vanessa Len – ARC 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.

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.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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

Joan loves spending summers at her Grandma’s house, and this summer is made more special by meeting her super cute co-worker Nick, but Joan’s Grandma has kept a secret from her, one that threatens her relationship with Nick before it even begins. Joan comes from a family of monsters, people with unique abilities, and Nick is a monster hunter, someone determined to rid them world of evil once and for all. After a shocking event Joan finds herself on the run from Nick alongside Aaron Oliver, the heir to another monster family who views her own as an enemy. Determined to stop Nick, they will need to work together, but there are multiple things working against them not the least that they are monsters, and monsters very rarely get their happy ending.

Joan was a fantastic character to read this story from. Having no knowledge of the monster world she learns as shes goes which means that we as the reader do as well, without their being any major info dumps. She is, unsurprisingly, shocked to learn she is a monster, as well as a little repulsed, not just at the name, but at what the monsters do to ordinary humans. We really get to see her inner battle throughout the story, her need to save her family and through that use her monster powers. She is determined and ready for a fight but also so incredibly out of her depth and I really loved seeing her grow as a character and come to realise that she isn’t the hero, shes a monster and she needs to own it.

As well as Joan the main story follows Aaron Oliver, a fellow monster who ends up helping Joan on her journey. Ruth, Joan’s cousin and Nick, the hero determined to kill them all. Though it’s told solely from Joan’s POV, Len did a brilliant job in bringing all of her side characters to life, giving them personalities of their own, as well as some tragic ass backstories that just ensured I fell in love with them all. Romance wise I think I picked the wrong ship to ship in this story. Though there are two potential love interests, though I’d find it hard to say this was a love triangle in any way (which is a good thing). My only issue is they were both a little insta love for me & slightly tropey, but I still found myself invested in one particular character, and am really hoping that they appear in the sequel.

Only a Monster wasn’t at all what I was expecting if I’m honest, and that may be why as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t really love it. I was a little put off by the authors writing style, it failed to really bring any emotion out in me as the reader so the shocking scenes just didn’t really hit. I also felt that some of the big plot points kind of came out of nowhere. I’m all for a big, shocking plot twist, but these just seemed to be plucked out of nowhere, there were no little ‘hints’ in the story, and because of that the main story line between Joan and Nick just fell a little flat for me. I did really enjoy the magic system, it was well developed and extremely easy to get your head around, and I loved that the author kept what made the monsters monstrous a secret, it made sure that it impacted you a lot more when you actually find out.

I just don’t think this story was as dark as I was expecting it to be, Len did a brilliant job of humanising her ‘monster’ characters, in fact she did it a little too well because I really did struggle to find them dark and monstrous at all. There’s plenty I did love about this book, and most of it I can’t mention because… spoilers… but it’s safe to say that I will be definitely picking up the sequel when it’s out.

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