The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

details
Title: The Monster of Elendhaven.
Writer(s): Jennifer Giesbrecht.
Publisher: Tor.com.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: September 24th 2019.
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
ISBN13:  9781250225689.
My Overall Rating: ★★★.

thoughts

Sometimes, society is as much as a player in the game as individuals and its impact on everyone is not to be overlooked. Its health is often dictated by the actions of everyone that it composes and what it offers back can change lives in unimaginable ways. But what happens when it gives back a reflection of its current state? Leave it to debut author Jennifer Giesbrecht to give us a glimpse into a monster’s mind, one who crawls in the alleys, lurks the rooftops and pounces from the shadows of its victims. In her first novella, she presents a monster, magician, and hunter who crosses paths and unveils a revenge plot ruminated for countless years.

What is The Monster of Elendhaven about? Set in the Victorian-city of Elendhaven, a land hit by a plague, left rotting in its demise with its future set on despair, the story follows a thing without a name, shaped like a man but infused with a thirst for blood and death. Baptized as Johann, this supernatural creature runs into the mysteriously alluring sorcerer Florian Leickenbloom whose love for the city is demonstrated through his wealth and prestige. As they grow fond of each other’s passions, the monster who cannot die is whisked into a twisted and cruel revenge plot elaborated by Herr Leickenbloom but another player joins the game as she looks to put an end to all mages.

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The prose in this novella is exquisite, whimsical and incredibly poetic. It easily captures you, mesmerizes you into visualizing the world in all of its icky and oily splendour, deprived of joy and tranquility. Jennifer Giesbrecht’s writing style allows the gothic vibrancy of her tale to take a life of its own and help the reader understand the intricacy of the monster’s existence within such a destitute society. How she effortlessly incorporates the paranormal elements to the story also gives way to an immersive experience where the world she builds from the ground up feels authentic and familiar, yet completely innovative and thrilling.

Where this novella lost my interest is when the romance begins and this occurs fairly early in the story. The story originally paved the way towards an adventure fueled with bloodlust with hints of a revenge thriller until it started to heavily focus on a romance between the monster and the sorcerer. It’s not even just because the novella now turned into a twisted and sinister romance based on slavery and a game of push and pull—without ever being too explicit in the details—but it’s the motives of these characters to throw themselves into each other as well as the author’s objective of this romance in the grand scheme of things that made me unenthusiastic of the story’s development, to an extent.

Even if the romance wasn’t my cup of tea, I also found that the characters didn’t have a particularly singular or fitting voice, especially Johann. In fact, the moment he finally starts to speak, especially when it’s to aggressively tease his source of attraction, his language suddenly felt conflicting with his personality of a killer, making me wonder, too often than not, how genuine their voices actually were to my eyes. Nonetheless, the world-building and prose are impeccable, leaving me hopeful that Jennifer Giesbrecht has a bright future in grimdark fantasy.

The Monster of Elendhaven is a grimdark fantasy novella where monsters converge into fulfilling one’s lifelong dream of revenge.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Raincoast Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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33 comments

  • I am sorry the story didn’t develop quite the way you would have wanted I to but DAMN THAT INTRO! I absolutely loved it! Your review was simply amazing, Lashaan! ❤ ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  • Excellent review, Lashaan! It looks like the story line could have developed in many adventurous ways so it’s a shame that the author decided to take it down the romantic path.

    Liked by 2 people

  • I think the little byline/whatever it’s called by Joe Hill would have put me off. When I see perversity coupled with lush writing, all I can think of is biting into a rotten peach and getting a mouthful of maggots…

    Liked by 2 people

  • While I read the first part of your review I was fascinated by the premise of the story – especially since there was a mention of a revenge plot, and these have intrigued me since the time I read The Count of Montecristo…. But sadly, the final section revealed the “slide” into a romance plot that sound more like it’s tagged on rather than organically developed as part of the story. Seems like a missed opportunity!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve personally been so-so about revenge thrillers, but so far, the ones I picked up (Schwab’s Vicious/Vengeful) were pretty good. This one however lacked substance the moment it decide to focus on the romance a bit more… Then again, I’m sure there’s an audience for this somewhere. Thank you for reading, Maddalena! I appreciate it a lot! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • I loved this book, but I didn’t like the romance either. It was very unbalanced and controlling and made me uneasy. Which might be what the author was going for!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That could be it, Tammy! I still felt like the focus shifted too dramatically onto the romance, leaving unsatisfied by the end of it. 😦 At least the writing and world-building kept me going and am now hopeful for her next book! 😀

      Like

    • I know, right? I was a bit sad when the story started to focus on the romance when the murder/magic elements had me completely seduced/hypnotized. I wish it didn’t go down that route but I’m sure some people will still love this a lot. Thank you so much for reading, Tasya! 😀

      Like

  • OMG yes I can believe that the prose is exquisite just based on these quotes Lashaan! And the concept is very interesting and not far from our own reality !

    Liked by 1 person

  • The cover definitely grabbed my attention, but like Bookstooge, I, too, would have been put off by the review at its bottom.
    Sounds like “Beauty and the beast”. Cliche. Too bad, because it sounds like it had a great potential to be original.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love the cover design too. I was intrigued by the quote especially because it’s Joe Hill but I didn’t look into understand what exactly he meant by his quote until it was too late.
      Come to think of it, the Beauty and the Beast analogy is pretty curious. That’s a nice way to look at it. Oh well, maybe her next novella/book will impress me a lot more. Thank you so much for reading. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ugh… so disappointing! I’ve only seen a couple reviews for this so far and neither of them were very enthusiastic.

    I still might give it a go. I don’t mind romance if I’m expecting it to be a romance. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  • For once the one-liner from a notable author on the book cover is useful 😉 Seems like not my cup of tea, especially the icky romance and the lack of psychological realism of the characters. Illuminating review, as always, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Romance strikes again! …Well to kill a story. Sounds like the world building was stellar along with the writing but the singular plot didn’t wow you. Too bad too since I know you normally enjoy grimdark fantasy so much. But it does sound like she’s an author to watch and see if her next book has plot more to your taste. it’s never nice to be disappointed though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. The romance sort of killed it for me in this one. It’s not a bad novella though but I feel like it could’ve been so much better if it didn’t go down that route. I’ll definitely give her next book/novella a try and then decide if what she creates are things that interest me or not though. Thank you again for reading my posts, Dani, I appreciate it a lot! ❤

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  • “The prose in this novella is exquisite, whimsical and incredibly poetic” << YASS!! I NEED to read this one although I probably won't like the romance either.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wow, I have to say that this book sounds REALLY weird, the romance between a monster and a human being is quite unusual and definitely not what I’d be looking for in a book (or in anything else!) 😂 Though, it sounds very well written and at least that’s a very good point! 😄 Great review, Lashaan 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha it is indeed odd. In this case, the monster was shaped like a human (a man) to some extent so I guess it does sound a bit odd to talk about a monster and a man going to bed together. 😛 Besides that, yes! The writing was nice and hopefully, the next story she writes will have… less romance… for my sake hahah

      Liked by 1 person

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