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The Monster of Elendhaven

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The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on erra The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning. These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.


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The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on erra The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning. These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.

30 review for The Monster of Elendhaven

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    3.5 stars* This was dark, thrilling & weird (in the best way). I adored the writing and reading about these complex and interesting characters. This is definitely the perfect quick halloween read! Thank you Tor for providing me with an ARC!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    "Power was sweeter than apples. It was cheaper than water, and sustained the soul twice as well. If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too." I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting when I picked up The Monster of Elendhaven, but it wasn't that, and I mean that in the very highest form of compliment. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas, in the sense that I love to hate them, because I always feel like I was cheated out of a full story. This "Power was sweeter than apples. It was cheaper than water, and sustained the soul twice as well. If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too." I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting when I picked up The Monster of Elendhaven, but it wasn't that, and I mean that in the very highest form of compliment. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas, in the sense that I love to hate them, because I always feel like I was cheated out of a full story. This is the first shorter book that I can remember falling head over heels in love with, but I'm a little nervous to admit that, given Joe Hill's blurb states this story is “A black tide of perversity, violence, and lush writing. I loved it.” And I whole-heartedly agree; it was graphic, violent, and disturbing in many ways (content warning for murders that are gory and graphic, rape of a child, etc), but it was done with lyrical writing that set the stage for a gothic, lush fantasy setting. If you are squeamish, this will be a hard pass for you, but if not, carry on. "Come on, sugarsnap, you want to tell me. You've never told anyone about this, have you." "I've whispered it to the dark," Florian hissed, "which is the only confessor I need." "I am the dark, Herr Leickenbloom. You can tell me anything you want." I'm not quite sure how to express just what this nugget of a novel is, but I'm so glad that I read it. It's a story of suffering, anger, and revenge, but it's also a tender tale surrounding two men who find comfort in each other when they need it most. The relationship between Florian and Johann was crisp and humorous at times, yet also showcased the hurt and longing in each of them that they sought to cleanse by connecting with one another. It's a clever little saga, and my only complaint was that I wanted more! I'm floored that this is a debut, and I'm already clamoring from another book by the author. Highly recommended for those wanting something quick, witty, and a bit weird in a positively unique way. "A creature newly named is a creature still half-animal, and Johann's self-education made generous space for the use of tools and the vice of violence before he could learn regret." *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Petrik

    ARC provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review. This starts out promising but overall it's really just not for me. The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is a debut that I’ve heard great things about. It’s been advertised as a compelling dark fantasy about revenge, murder, and magician. For what its worth, it did started out that way; strongly atmospheric and dark. However, once the romance started, I found that the twisted relationship and unrealistic progression in their rom/>The/>This ARC provided by the publisher—Tor.com—in exchange for an honest review. This starts out promising but overall it's really just not for me. The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is a debut that I’ve heard great things about. It’s been advertised as a compelling dark fantasy about revenge, murder, and magician. For what its worth, it did started out that way; strongly atmospheric and dark. However, once the romance started, I found that the twisted relationship and unrealistic progression in their romance (though, maybe that's kinda the point of the relationship) that constantly hangs in a weird status throughout the book became more of the main focus than everything else. Excluding the fact that romance in fantasy rarely works for me, this one in my opinion just didn’t make any sense. The character’s voices were difficult to differentiate and I also can’t bring myself to care about them at all. The writing felt jarring to read and I really feel like everything about this book just felt lacking in developments due to the low number of pages. Finishing the novella, I still have no clue why the two main characters were in love with each other, if you can call it that; they lacked clear and believable motivations—again, maybe the characters being insane and lacking in real motivation is the actual point of the novel. Before this book, I’ve just read one of the greatest conclusions to a trilogy; a series that has LGBT romance and diverse relationship developments done spectacularly well. Because of that, there’s a chance that I subconsciously compared the greatness of what I previously finished to this one. Overall, The Monster of Elendhaven isn’t for me. Take this review with a grain of salt, there are still three months left until its release date and a lot of people have loved it so much. I think mine is, in fact, the third non-positive review that this book has received on Goodreads and if this book has your attention already, don't let my review steer you away from it because clearly, right now I'm definitely in the unpopular opinion side. Official release date: September 24th, 2019 You can pre-order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping) You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

  4. 5 out of 5

    karen

    oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen? this is a vicious little novella that ends each kiss with a bite. it is a perfect october book, which means i picked it up a few days too early, but YOU should work it into your halloweeny spooktober book stack because it is short and creepy and an excellent pick for the season. if i try to do a plotty review of this, it will quickly become overcomplicated for you and overwhelming for me, and i’ll end up sounding like a little kid de oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST HORROR 2019! what will happen? this is a vicious little novella that ends each kiss with a bite. it is a perfect october book, which means i picked it up a few days too early, but YOU should work it into your halloweeny spooktober book stack because it is short and creepy and an excellent pick for the season. if i try to do a plotty review of this, it will quickly become overcomplicated for you and overwhelming for me, and i’ll end up sounding like a little kid describing a nightmare. and it IS a pointy little nightmare of a book—dark and violent and vengeful. it’s got a sort of apocalyptic victorian vibe, if that’s even a genre, full of urban decay and impending doom, where some are still clinging to the false hope of progress, so confident in their powers of persuasion that they underestimate—see, and i’m already off into NO ONE CARES, KAREN territory. in short: it’s about a man who is not a man; a gothic golem shaped by cruelty, curious and homicidal, drawn to power and finding his purpose beside (and also inside, [lewd chuckle]) a man who is more than a man, who needs a morally flexible cohort to help fulfill his monumental revenge fantasy. and it’s gonna get murdery! ”[T]here’s nothing to fear from the end of the world. Annihilation is a fire that cleanses what it burns. For a corrupted world, apocalypse is the only hope for redemption.” it is a horrible little book. by which i mean: i enjoyed it very much. come to my blog!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Justin Tate

    So confused Don't give me a reading comprehension quiz on this one because I'm pretty sure I'd fail it! LOL. I read every word, and didn't exactly hate it, but have no idea what happened. I don't know the premise, couldn't tell you anything about the plot. I re-read the description here on Goodreads and nothing rings a bell. What I can gather is that this appears to be some kind of remix of The Tempest. We have a clear Caliban-esque character (the monster) and a clear Prospero-type so So confused Don't give me a reading comprehension quiz on this one because I'm pretty sure I'd fail it! LOL. I read every word, and didn't exactly hate it, but have no idea what happened. I don't know the premise, couldn't tell you anything about the plot. I re-read the description here on Goodreads and nothing rings a bell. What I can gather is that this appears to be some kind of remix of The Tempest. We have a clear Caliban-esque character (the monster) and a clear Prospero-type sorcerer (Florian). There's inexplicable sexual tension between the two, but nothing seems to come of it other than a few weird descriptions of them touching. They are mad about the economy I think? But why or what they do about it either never gets resolved or I was just too dense to pick up on it. I couldn't really picture anything, but what I could picture was animated. That was interesting. I've never read a book and specifically imagined it as a cartoon. Some of the dialogue was quirky and cute. I didn't find it particularly bloody or perverse, but maybe that's because it's hard for me to get emotionally invested in 2D watercolor horror. All in all, I didn't really find anything worth recommending other than a few good lines and the fragments of what might be an interesting plot. For those with higher reading comprehension, it might be great!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription 💉 Look how beautiful is the cover! I asked the publisher for a copy and being the awesome people they are, they immediately provided it! 💉 I have seen many positive reviews for this book and that makes me feel less guilty, I like to support new authors, I can’t sugarcoat this because I really did not understand it. 💉 The beginning was good and I thought I know why people liked it and then things star This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription 💉 Look how beautiful is the cover! I asked the publisher for a copy and being the awesome people they are, they immediately provided it! 💉 I have seen many positive reviews for this book and that makes me feel less guilty, I like to support new authors, I can’t sugarcoat this because I really did not understand it. 💉 The beginning was good and I thought I know why people liked it and then things started happening and I did not know why they were happening! Did I miss anything? Was there really no motivation for the characters actions? and where was the story going, I did not know? It was a short novella but I lost interest and even considered DNFing it but I finished it and felt absolutely nothing! I hope you’re in the people-who-loved-this-book if you ever try to read it and not end disappointed as I did!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    “Monster was the best, his favorite word. The first syllable formed a kiss, the second was a hiss.” I picked this book up on a whim and started reading a few pages, figuring I would check it out to see if I needed to place it higher on my priority list. Instead of a few pages, I read 1/3 of the book. I’ll be blunt here; this will not be a long review. It doesn’t need to be. This is a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. This is a grim, dark humored and evil little book… “Monster was the best, his favorite word. The first syllable formed a kiss, the second was a hiss.” I picked this book up on a whim and started reading a few pages, figuring I would check it out to see if I needed to place it higher on my priority list. Instead of a few pages, I read 1/3 of the book. I’ll be blunt here; this will not be a long review. It doesn’t need to be. This is a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. This is a grim, dark humored and evil little book… I loved every page of it. This is a book with a murderer as the main protagonist, aiding a sorcerer in bringing about a plague in hopes of ending the world. There is not a hero in sight, but there’s about as much humor about the entire thing as there are corpses. That is to say a lot of bodies, and a great deal of humor. Oh, oh my yes. “Florian’s grocery list included: a fleam for bloodletting, a brass-screw tourniquet, a bottle of formaldehyde, forceps, an assortment of glass vials with their cork stoppers intact, one tenaculum - which Florian had to draw for Johann an instructive picture of - and a bag of candies dates from the general store.” The writing here is beautiful, taking modern elements and infusing them with the poetic feel of a classic gothic. There were paragraphs I read and then reread aloud savoring the flow of them. The words flow together beautifully even when describing things that should never be described as beautiful. It also manages to pull off something that few fantasy authors try to anymore. It gives you a world and doesn’t give you all the details. It shows you the world but it doesn’t fully tell you how it works. You are required to take in its rules and piece them all together from what we’re shown. A few myths may be presented to the reader, but it is up to them to connect the dots, and if you don’t bother, you will be left behind. Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. For anyone who isn’t afraid of a truly grim horror/fantasy that isn’t afraid to give you wink and a nudge as it stabs you, as if to ask if you got the joke… please do yourself a favor and give it a shot. A rare full 5/5 stars. "The train station was bustling with hundreds of people from all walks of life: cottons to silks, silver changing hands, middle-class women with smartly dressed children waddling after them like a line of ducklings. Oh yes, there was mischief to be done."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    'a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who loves both' JUST FUCK ME UP, TOR.COM

  9. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    This was so gory, disgusting and atmospheric you could almost feel the smell of decay wafting from the pages. 3.5 stars The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy novella following an immortal, magical man as he meets another man who might be even more dangerous than him, and who might have some nefarious plans; deliciously evil relationship ensues. What I loved the most about this novella was the writing. It is vivid, even though most of the time you kind of wish it hadn't been, because Elendhave/>The This was so gory, disgusting and atmospheric you could almost feel the smell of decay wafting from the pages. 3.5 stars The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy novella following an immortal, magical man as he meets another man who might be even more dangerous than him, and who might have some nefarious plans; deliciously evil relationship ensues. What I loved the most about this novella was the writing. It is vivid, even though most of the time you kind of wish it hadn't been, because Elendhaven is a horrible place to be in, and every single character is on some level corrupt and/or unhinged. I loved it for that; it truly makes you experience just how ugly this world is. It also doesn't take itself too seriously, and the narrator's humor made this city bearable to read about and also made it feel more real. “Leickenbloom Manor was the oldest mansion in the city: four floors, twenty-six rooms, and a wrought-iron trim that made it look like an ancient prison that had been garnished by an extremely fussy knitting circle.” This book had the best descriptions, yes. I also really liked the way the relationship was being set up: as usual, I'm always there for the trainwrecks, especially if they involve gay characters being evil the way a straight one would be allowed to be. (I don't feel like the novella explored the full potential of it, but that's not too unusual for short books.) Those two things were a significant part of why I loved the first half, which introduces the reader to the world, the characters and what they're up to; I thought this was going to be amazing because of what it seemed to lead up to. And then... it just fizzled out. It starts talking about an (view spoiler)[apocalypse (hide spoiler)] and then just ends with that? It's not even that (view spoiler)[the character was stopped (hide spoiler)] , no. Maybe there'll be a sequel, I don't know. What I know is that when I got to the end, my main feeling was "that's it?" I hesitate to say that this isn't good, because it is well-written, but I didn't really get what it was going for, and in the end, I kept thinking about so many other directions it could have taken that I would have liked more - but then that's kind of wanting to read a different book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ☠️ Hecka Wicked ☠️ Campbell

    Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for each other. In other words: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASS

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror

    I DNFd this at around 40 pages. It started off SO GOOD, like deliciously dark and twisted and some of the most juicy writing ever and then came a plot development that made all the darkness slide off onto the back burner and instead, this turned into something dry and boring. I was bored. I might pick this up again at some point, maybe it’s me?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Julie Zantopoulos

    What a freaking ride. This was a quick read but it packed a serious lunch. I was provided this arc by TOR and I’m so thankful it made its way to me. This novella is graphic in its violence and unapologetic in its gore but it’s also hauntingly beautiful in its writing style. It is twisted and grotesque in a way you can’t look away from and I really enjoyed it. This is a fantasy world with magic and mages but also very real human motivators like revenge and lust. This falls short of being an eroti What a freaking ride. This was a quick read but it packed a serious lunch. I was provided this arc by TOR and I’m so thankful it made its way to me. This novella is graphic in its violence and unapologetic in its gore but it’s also hauntingly beautiful in its writing style. It is twisted and grotesque in a way you can’t look away from and I really enjoyed it. This is a fantasy world with magic and mages but also very real human motivators like revenge and lust. This falls short of being an erotic horror but man, I kinda wish it went there. There’s certainly a twisted romance that underlies the whole story and I was here for it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Holly (The Grimdragon)

    You know when you order something online, like a bouquet of flowers for instance? Let's say you order them for your partner on their birthday or some romantical shit like that. The picture is all vibrant and full of life, gloriously tantalizing. Beautiful vase, lush wild flowers. PICK ME! PICK ME! So you order them. Then you wait. They arrive. You take them out of the box. Except instead of the stunning order that you were shown on the website, you receive a sloppy, lacklus You know when you order something online, like a bouquet of flowers for instance? Let's say you order them for your partner on their birthday or some romantical shit like that. The picture is all vibrant and full of life, gloriously tantalizing. Beautiful vase, lush wild flowers. PICK ME! PICK ME! So you order them. Then you wait. They arrive. You take them out of the box. Except instead of the stunning order that you were shown on the website, you receive a sloppy, lackluster vase of a partial arrangement. Oh, and the flowers are half-dead. ----- HOO BOY. This is a DNF @ 70 pages in. A hard no from me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lily ☁️

    me: I won’t let myself get sidetracked by shiny ARCs from publishers anymore, I’m going to stick to my TBR. also me: Let me just sneak a little peek … Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin’

  15. 4 out of 5

    Holly (Holly Hearts Books)

    Hundreds of years ago, the North Pole was cut open with searing magic, a horrific event that left the land with craters like the city of Elendhaven was in. For centuries, the black waters were poisoned with an arcane toxin that causes the skin to bubble and the mind go soggy. Meet Johann, the Monster of Elendhaven. This book might as well be dripping with oil and slime. Glued together with brick and mortar and smell like factory smoke and grime because this setting is VIVID Hundreds of years ago, the North Pole was cut open with searing magic, a horrific event that left the land with craters like the city of Elendhaven was in. For centuries, the black waters were poisoned with an arcane toxin that causes the skin to bubble and the mind go soggy. Meet Johann, the Monster of Elendhaven. This book might as well be dripping with oil and slime. Glued together with brick and mortar and smell like factory smoke and grime because this setting is VIVID AS FORK. We mostly have two prominent characters here. Johann, an unfortunate man who resembles slenderman in the worst way possible and slinks through the city committing murder and who also cannot die no matter how many times he throws himself off buildings. Then we have Florian, an accountant who is part of the Leickenblooms family, the family who built the city. Johann becomes fascinated with Florian when he notices some sorcery about him and begins to stalk him. I found the overall plot to be just okay. It does have solidity that brings our characters together and gives valid and easy to recognize reasons for them to do what they do. The author does a great job at the start of the novel building up a sense of fear but once our main characters meet and a romance begins *sighs*, I wanted to jump ship. It is a twisted romance and I think it should have went either all the way to the erotic route or not have been there at all because it hovered at this awkward stage and I personally lost that gritty murderous vibe I was loving in the beginning. I was really enjoying the selfish independent monster story but then love blossomed and hands were touching and suddenly being pulled away and wasn't scary anymore. Overall, I think I'll be in the minority for this for sure. I see most people enjoying it. I do have a particular taste and though I loved the setting, the story and characters themselves fell flat for me. I think I expected more horror than what I got.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ☾ h a d e e r ☽

    Okay, so I absolutely loved the vivid, visceral writing. So much of this was gross and gory and deliciously written. I also really loved the aesthetic, which is a kind of Victorian-era industrialized Germany/London. It's fab. The worldbuilding is also fascinating, with Elendhaven being a rather eerie city with an unsettling origin story. I also very much enjoyed the toxic relationship between the two main characters. But??? The ending?? I'm so confused? I don't even know if I was supposed to under Okay, so I absolutely loved the vivid, visceral writing. So much of this was gross and gory and deliciously written. I also really loved the aesthetic, which is a kind of Victorian-era industrialized Germany/London. It's fab. The worldbuilding is also fascinating, with Elendhaven being a rather eerie city with an unsettling origin story. I also very much enjoyed the toxic relationship between the two main characters. But??? The ending?? I'm so confused? I don't even know if I was supposed to understand what happened at the end or if it's meant to be left ambiguous. I feel like I'm not sure what the point of the story was or where it intended to go, and I have no idea what the ending means, so I'm mostly kind of frustrated.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cas

    Monster, Monster, Monster, Johann said to himself, the first half a kiss, the second a hiss. I loved this book. I loved this book. I would peel my own soul out of my body and throw it into the ocean as some grand sacrifice if it meant that I could magically make this book longer or summon more of them. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas because when I fall in love, I feel cheated and miffed and extremely inclined to offer a kidney to the author if it means getting more. And I only have two o Monster, Monster, Monster, Johann said to himself, the first half a kiss, the second a hiss. I loved this book. I loved this book. I would peel my own soul out of my body and throw it into the ocean as some grand sacrifice if it meant that I could magically make this book longer or summon more of them. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas because when I fall in love, I feel cheated and miffed and extremely inclined to offer a kidney to the author if it means getting more. And I only have two of them in a world full of good books and fantastic authors. But. I really, truly, wholeheartedly adored this book in all of it’s dark, disgusting, cruel nature. “You’re awful,” Florian hissed out between chuckles. “You’re a vile creature.” “Herr Leickenbloom, please.” Johann smiled easily. “Don’t underestimate me. I’m more than vile; I’m an honest-to-god monster.” I don’t even know how to explain this book. I’m not even sure I want to try? It’s a complex thing with so many layers, it’s taken me two hours since I finished it to fully lay them out in a way that I can comprehend them in their entirety and even then. Even then. It’s a book about two monsters with a hunger inside of them. A magician, a monster born from something sinister that has the strangest fondness for him, two pieces cut from the same stone that strangely fit together, that are able, willing, and capable of burning down the whole damn world together to get what they want which is revenge and satisfaction. The writing is a dark and luscious and all-consuming thing, fully intended to bite. The romance is positively monstrous and lovely in the cruelest of ways (half a romantic and half a morbid asshole, honestly). Which, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am entirely aware that both of these motherfuckers are problematic. Their romance—as fickle as it was throughout—isn’t really your sugar-sweet thing where they balance each other out in any soft way more so than they’re both deserving of the title ‘Monster of Elendhaven’ and there is a deep, intimate, borderline sensual understanding and familiarity when they look at each other. It’s dark and it has teeth, but there was an underlying sense of longing. They fit together. I’m also not sure what it says about me when I say that I was startled into laughter so suddenly at one point (after having numerous moments of smiling in amusement), I had to cover my face. So at least, if you choose to indulge this one, I can humor you by saying it is so very witty. As Tor.com so eloquently put it, this book has “Comedy With Approximately As Much Levity As The Depths of the Ocean”. (Granted they also advertised this book as Not Technically Necrophilia and Technically A Love Story so take that as you will. (It’s not necrophilia, I promise. That one was right.) (I would only ever somewhat argue over the High Quality Sociopath Love pitch, but we won’t go there right now.)) And this review is not actually a review and it feels like I’ve been keysmashing this entire time. Like it would probably make more sense if I did just wipe this all out and leave it as LKJHDGKJSDHG instead of trying to continue to put any of my thoughts and feelings into something articulate! Maybe I should just erase everything and do that anyway and let people take my 5 star rating and aggressive keyboard banging as they will, too! But, nevertheless, since we’re already here. If you’re squeamish, I really don’t recommend this one because there are detailed descriptions of certain gory things, but if you’re not and in the mood to witness a wicked, so very wicked, love story and two men more or less tear down a city whilst maintaining a familiar gay pining for each other, I would definitely pay you to read this. Not with a kidney because I really have no more to spare, but perhaps with like, a quarter. You can buy a gumball with that. “Undo him.” Florian’s laugh was curdled. “You might as well ask me to sink Elendhaven into the sea.” Rep: queer (mlm) mcs Content warnings: brief mention of rape, gore and murder

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    I’m not sure how I feel about this dark and weird story of revenge and murder, and twisted people. I clearly got a sense of a decaying, dismal town, one step away from dissolving in the poisonous water at its shores, peopled by an avaricious, small, upper class (I know, oxymoron), and many desperate poor. It’s amongst these poor that Johann, the self-styled Monster of Elendhaven preys, until he comes across Florian, the last remaining member of an old-moneyed family, and a sorcerer. Soon Johann I’m not sure how I feel about this dark and weird story of revenge and murder, and twisted people. I clearly got a sense of a decaying, dismal town, one step away from dissolving in the poisonous water at its shores, peopled by an avaricious, small, upper class (I know, oxymoron), and many desperate poor. It’s amongst these poor that Johann, the self-styled Monster of Elendhaven preys, until he comes across Florian, the last remaining member of an old-moneyed family, and a sorcerer. Soon Johann is helping Florian enact his elaborate, terrible revenge. I kept feeling uncomfortable and slightly grossed out by the descriptions in this novella of Johann and his actions, the remnants of Florian’s sorcery on his body, the behaviours of the merchants Florian has his eyes on, and the town itself. I kept picturing dark vapours emanating from every character, and if the author’s intention was to elicit this sort of reaction in her readers, then she definitely succeeded.

  19. 4 out of 5

    G.

    Behold! My one and only spooky October read. I was very excited about The Monster of Elendhaven, but then I saw some mixed ratings and was, like, yikes. Luckily, I enjoyed it. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also disappointed by it. The plot was, shall we say, lacking.

  20. 4 out of 5

    FanFiAddict

    Rating:★★★★★ Synopsis The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible pa Rating:★★★★★ Synopsis The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for each other. But the pair are being hunted by officials from the south, intent on saving the world from the horrors mages can unleash. Review I want to thank the publisher and author for an advanced reading copy of The Monster of Elendhaven in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novella. The Monster of Elendhaven is immensely mesmerizing with its darkly gorgeous prose and deftly jarring substance. It is an immortal and obsessive nightmare from the sea, ready to dig its claws into your flesh. Giesbrecht has one of THE most beautiful writing styles I have come across. If the cover by Jeffrey Alan Love didn’t say BUY ME RIGHT MEOW, then just the first couple of lines will have you drooling: For a long time, he didn’t have a name. What he had were long white fingers that hooked into purses and a mouth that told easy lies. What he had were eyes that remembered faces, feet that knew the alleys, palms that grew calloused and soot stained from crawling through the cobblestone streets. He got the name when he was three feet and four inches tall, kneeling on the dock with a coin in his palm, from a sailor who stank of rum and fish oil. The sailor grabbed him by the back of the neck and slammed his head into the wall—once, twice, three times—and then yanked the coin from his hand. His lip split on the dock and his mouth filled with a foul mixture of grease, salt, and blood. I was hooked by those long white fingers for the entire 159 pages. This is a novella that does not let up in its originality or gothic darkness. It is unlike anything I have ever read and just goes to show that Tor.com publishing is here to stay for the long-haul. It is difficult to write a review with the publication date so far out as I want to gush over what I have just finished reading. All I can honestly say is that I loved absolutely everything about The Monster of Elendhaven and I cannot wait to see what else the author has in store.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/12/... This is probably going to be one of my shorter reviews, because as much as I wanted to love The Monster of Elendhaven, unfortunately that just didn’t happen. That said, neither did I dislike it. Once more, as it so often tends to happen with me and novellas, I’m left with a sense of coldness and indecision when it comes to my feelings on this book. Things started well enough. In the beginning, readers are introduced to the grimy city of Elend 2 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/10/12/... This is probably going to be one of my shorter reviews, because as much as I wanted to love The Monster of Elendhaven, unfortunately that just didn’t happen. That said, neither did I dislike it. Once more, as it so often tends to happen with me and novellas, I’m left with a sense of coldness and indecision when it comes to my feelings on this book. Things started well enough. In the beginning, readers are introduced to the grimy city of Elendhaven, a foul setting of darkness and evil founded upon a bloody battlefield corrupted by magic and violence. In other words, the perfect place for a monster to make its home. That monster’s name is Johann. He can’t remember where he came from, but he knows he’s unnatural. Natural men can be hurt and die, but he can’t. He also discovers he has a talent and taste for killing. And thanks to his immortality, nothing can stop him as he stalks the streets of Elendhaven, preying on his victims and growing in power. But then he meets Florian Leickenbloom. Florian is a sorcerer, and Johann realizes that by working. together they can unleash even more chaos and devastation upon the unsuspecting masses of the city. Any way you look at it, The Monster of Elendhaven is one dark and gloomy book. And I think for me, that was part of the problem. Don’t get me wrong; I certainly don’t mind at all when my stories are grim and dreary, but still, I need to know why I care. The issue with Elendhaven is that author Jennifer Giesbrecht has so successfully painted such a wretched and irredeemable place, that I really couldn’t have given two hoots if the surrounding seas had opened up and swallowed the city and everything within it whole. Then there were the characters. Neither Johann or Florian had any personality to speak of, and I believe when your book stars such despicable protagonists, they’d damned well better have a spark of charisma, however small, for me to connect with them. Unfortunately, while each had their own unique quirks and fascinating modes of speech and behavior, that simply made them eccentric, not real. To be fair though, Florian had a compelling backstory, which proved to be one of the stronger aspects of this tale. The other interesting element was the romance, if you can even call it that. I love unconventional takes on relationships, and this one was most definitely on the strange and twisted side. That said—and I think this becoming a common refrain—when it comes to romance, I prefer that it not become the dominating factor of a non-romance genre book, and I felt that in some respects it received too much focus here, to the point of distraction. And speaking of common refrains, here’s another one: I wish this novella had been just a tad longer. I think it would have addressed many of the issues, including building the setting and the characters up to be more sympathetic and interesting. On the whole, I also think the author made a few faulty judgment calls, being too concerned with being edgy when her focus should have bene on developing more pertinent aspects of the story. In sum, The Monster of Elendhaven will probably work well for many, but it didn’t for me. I did enjoy the concept of the novella, but sadly I just wasn’t a fan of the execution, and all in all, the story and characters lacked the hook I look for in a book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aleksandra

    3.5 stars This was an interesting horror novella. It’s dark and gruesome and also queer. I liked the relationship between the two monsters of Elendhaven. The writing was good, the worldbuilding was a fun one. The story takes place in the northernmost gloomiest town, on a shore of a black ocean. The story progressed energetically, but the ending was slightly lacking. I am confused about the last chapter.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This short novella is undoubtedly well-written, but just about everything about it's subject matter is horrid. Both the main characters are evil, one is a nearly supernatural amoral way, and the other filled with out-sized revenge fantasies and abandonment issues that will ultimately destroy this horrible little world. There's a sort of romance between the two, but it's an unrelentingly dark one, and the relationship is actually a shadow of their true relationship. Probably This short novella is undoubtedly well-written, but just about everything about it's subject matter is horrid. Both the main characters are evil, one is a nearly supernatural amoral way, and the other filled with out-sized revenge fantasies and abandonment issues that will ultimately destroy this horrible little world. There's a sort of romance between the two, but it's an unrelentingly dark one, and the relationship is actually a shadow of their true relationship. Probably a great novel if you're into gothic revenge fantasies, but it wasn't really for me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BLURB "The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for ea/> I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS BLURB "The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for each other. But the pair are being hunted by officials from the south, intent on saving the world from the horrors mages can unleash."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Grandma

    3.5 Stars Unnamed monster washes ashore... Descriptive gore. Primal urges. Slow vengeance.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Devann

    OH ! MY ! GODDDD !!!!! I was already excited for this book just based on the gorgeous cover and awesome title alone, and once I started it I was hooked basically from the first page. This seriously might be my favorite thing I've read all year [discounting rereads] and I'm already at the point where I want to go back and reread it [although I'm planning on waiting until I can get my hands on the audio]. The last book I wanted to read again immediately after finishing was Vicious by V. OH ! MY ! GODDDD !!!!! I was already excited for this book just based on the gorgeous cover and awesome title alone, and once I started it I was hooked basically from the first page. This seriously might be my favorite thing I've read all year [discounting rereads] and I'm already at the point where I want to go back and reread it [although I'm planning on waiting until I can get my hands on the audio]. The last book I wanted to read again immediately after finishing was Vicious by V.E. Schwab and this book definitely reminds me of that one in a weird way. Basically if you took Vicious and crossed it with the Hannibal TV show and the Johannes Cabal series. Literally my only complaint is that it is SO SHORT, but it is a complete and satisfying story and it's not the author's fault that I would literally read a thousand pages of this. This looks like her first 'full length' work so I'm definitely excited to see more from her in the future!

  27. 4 out of 5

    ♠️ TABI ♠️

    "If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too." My brain while reading this book: I came for monsters but what I got was something that vaguely reminded me of the Good Omens-style book/show/world/ship . . . but, like, a cheap copycat knock-off version. So, while this wasn't completely terrible, it was mostly terrible. Not to mention 100% confusing and just, I dunno, this all-en "If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too." My brain while reading this book: I came for monsters but what I got was something that vaguely reminded me of the Good Omens-style book/show/world/ship . . . but, like, a cheap copycat knock-off version. So, while this wasn't completely terrible, it was mostly terrible. Not to mention 100% confusing and just, I dunno, this all-encompassing sense of gross?? Also, my brain kept chortling with dirty amusement over all the WRONG things and taking everything probably the opposite way it was meant to be taken. For example: There's a main character called Leikenbloom but my mind kept reading it as "lick and bloom" so I was always giggling whenever his name popped up . . . which happened a lot!! And I guess there's supposed to be this weird growing lustful tension between the two dudes but I just saw it as this . . . Johann, posing seductively: so how can I repay you hmmm? Florian, unbothered: you can do my grocery shopping, thanks BUT AGAIN THERE WAS ALWAYS THE WEIRD, CONSTANT SENSE OF "this is gross, why do I feel gross while reading this" THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE BOOK which if that's the point than okay I guess I felt it but yeah I didn't like it. And of course THE ONE CHARACTER of decent potential and who I actually liked, well, yeah she didn't go very far ugh. Also, that ending?? WTF? I . . . I don't get it. My overall reaction to this book:

  28. 5 out of 5

    Clephiro (The Book Coven)

    Boosting my book count with spoopy novellas. I wanted to love this more than I did. I think I love the concept more than the execution. Part of that could be that it was a novella, which is a format that I already struggle with. I like that the characters were not the typical 'misunderstood' villains. The monsters of Elendhaven were truly monstrous. Not going to lie, I was confused in a few places because the book was a little too allegorical for me. I also wish that there had been mo Boosting my book count with spoopy novellas. I wanted to love this more than I did. I think I love the concept more than the execution. Part of that could be that it was a novella, which is a format that I already struggle with. I like that the characters were not the typical 'misunderstood' villains. The monsters of Elendhaven were truly monstrous. Not going to lie, I was confused in a few places because the book was a little too allegorical for me. I also wish that there had been more time to explore the relationship between Johann and Florian. It was definitely an unusual dynamic in a relationship.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)

    I listened to this as an audiobook and it’s a short snappy read of three hours. It’s very much a book about villains and monsters, set in a whale oil fed town on the dark polar shores. Think Dishonored mixed with The Savage Song and a hefty dose of Dorian Gray. I deeply enjoyed the dark, mucky world of Elendhaven and will be interested to see whether we get another book in this world. I do warn that it’s not a book for faint hearted and give content warnings for gore, body horror, murder, suicid I listened to this as an audiobook and it’s a short snappy read of three hours. It’s very much a book about villains and monsters, set in a whale oil fed town on the dark polar shores. Think Dishonored mixed with The Savage Song and a hefty dose of Dorian Gray. I deeply enjoyed the dark, mucky world of Elendhaven and will be interested to see whether we get another book in this world. I do warn that it’s not a book for faint hearted and give content warnings for gore, body horror, murder, suicide and self injury.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    I'm literally in awe of Jennifer Giesbrecht, what a book.

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