Length: 271 pages
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Children’s Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishers
Date of Publication: 8th August, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected copy of the book in return for an honest review
When Bloomsbury offered a choice of titles for review, I was drawn to this book. As an avid reader of Fantasy, I sometimes feel like I can predict the story when I read the blurb. This is one of the few books where I had no idea where the author would lead us to and that made me want to read the book at any cost.
I like reading uncorrected proofs sometimes. They give an insight to the author’s creative process as well as an idea of what goes into editing. But with this book, I have a feeling that the published book would have had a lot of cool artwork which was missing in my copy. I hope I get to see them some time in the future.
“It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being …
This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him ‘Imp’ only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops. He’s a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn’t know where he fits.
But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he’ll stop at nothing to see it come to pass….“
The book hooked me in right from the beginning. The technicalities of the birth of a monster had enough of realism mixed with the fantasy aspect to feel like its something that could possibly happen. I wasn’t sure if I liked the protagonist in the beginning but as the story progressed I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He is sweet, loving and innocent and all his decisions are based on what his heart tells is right.
As soon as the Gargoyles came into the story, I fell in love with them. I am a sucker for characters with a gruff exterior and molten chocolate insides. I kept waiting for one of the ‘good’ characters in the story to betray the Imp because they gave off that kind of vibes. It is a reflection on the author’s storytelling prowess that she kept me guessing who that character would be till the very end. I was curious to see how the author would handle introducing multiple fantasy creatures and if the story would get lost in the details but that was not the case.
I loved how unpredictable the story was. Although it has been categorised as ‘Middle Grade’ it could very easily sell as Young Adult and wow the target audience. The concepts of loss and guilt, of the need to belong and the camaraderie shown by the characters will definitely interest a wide age range. The book is equal parts funny and sad. The dialogues are witty and sassy. It was a brilliant read especially as a debut novel and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with.
T.C. Shelley studied Creative Writing and Literature at University. She has been teaching English for over twenty years and her first school was classified as the most remote in Australia. She loves an audience and long before she took up teaching was writing and performing her poetry and short stories.
Shelley began writing novels to entertain her daughter, who wisely suggested that she try to get them published.
She lives with her husband, her daughter and two dogs in Perth, Western Australia. She loves to travel and isn’t frightened of being lost.
TL;DR: A brilliantly written debut that keeps you on your toes
Have you loved any grey character that can be classified as ‘the monster who wasn’t’?
Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life