For some reason, no one ever remembered his face.
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht came out last month and I scrambled to get my hands on it. I have long been a fan of Giesbrecht’s: she was one of the first authors I followed during when I read Homestuck fanfiction. Our interests diverged, our social sites differing, but upon joining the writing community on Twitter I was delighted to find her active and, justly, being published through Tor.
I try and tell myself I’m not a fan of horror, but I am. I love horror. I love sickly creatures and provoking thoughts. I love the examinations of society and the depths of human action. I love monsters, the real ones from stories, the ones who are just like us, for the most part. Horror calls to me.
This, obviously, made Monster a perfect book to pick up.
I could wax forever about each aspect of the story. The way the plot grips you from the first page and refuses to let you go. Giesbrecht’s prose, poetic and gothic and as haunting as the streets they illustrate. The characters, all their depths and thoughts and the angles of their bodies captured so well. In another universe where I had time, I’d have already composed a 50 page essay along with an annotated copy of the novella, where all my notes are incoherent screaming and underlining every other sentence until I rip through the page with excitement. Alas, in this universe we will all have to settle for me insisting 400 times over for you to read this story.
Go read it.
Johann and Florian are perfect contrasts and mirror each other in enticing ways. They’re lusciously described, their details forming another story in themselves. Their romance and touches are longing, haunting, and, like the men themselves, monstrous. I delight every time I read a book with openly queer characters in any genre, and in Giesbrecht’s hands the flirting adds to the intrigue of the story in a delicious way.
After finishing the novel I felt inspired. It was so moving, so incredible, such a force of nature that it swept me along and deposited me along the shores of my own black ocean of creativity. I feel as though I can go deeper, push myself further, and really sink into the darkness and write how I want to. However I want to. About what I want to. If nothing else, this novella is worth it for the feeling of motivation you get from it. Giesbrecht’s work gives me the courage to write horror myself, and to love each and every word I get to use.
As with all horror, check for trigger warnings before you read, and be aware of your own level of comfort with death and gore. When, or if, you find yourself ready, though, this will not be a trip you will regret.
You may even remember the monster’s face.