September 27, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

If I Can't Suspend Disbelief? Houston, We Have A Problem. Here There Are Monsters- An ARC Review

Here There are Monsters by Amelinda Berube started off as a very gripping story that just didn’t follow through. I kept waiting for certain pieces to fall into place and they never did.

Thank you to Source Books Fire and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

In order for a suspenseful thriller to work, especially one that bends in to fantasy, it must accomplish certain plot features. First, it must create reader buy-in to the center of magic. It must also allow the reader to suspend belief. I’m a huge fan of Marvel. I watch the Walking Dead. I have the ability to both buy into Magic, let go of the time traveling (because in the end it was a vehicle for the movie, not what the movie was about) in End Game, and a variety of comics. If anyone can suspend disbelief as a reader, I am one of them. However, Here There are Monsters wasn’t able to get me to buy-in to the plot or suspend disbelief.
For one the magic system was not fully explained (truthfully I think this is something that is beginning to happen across many fantasy novels that feature magic across the YA spectrum- authors need to tighten it up). That is the wonder of mages and magic systems. It is a craft that shouldn’t be lost.
I do like Deidre as a character. I really connected to her because as a teenager I went through that feeling of being very different from others. Although it was an isolated feeling, I never wanted to change just to be like everyone else, either. That is a tough place to be. When she suddenly goes missing, her sister Skye is the only person who can figure out the how and why. There for, she is the only one with the ability and belief that she can rescue Deidre.
In her efforts to rescue Deidre that the timeline begins shifting back and forth. This worked for a while as it explained why Skye is not able to save Deidre and how their relationship begins to fray. Once the relationship frays and Deidre is lost to everyone is when the story also ultimately is lost. The monsters and the grief of losing a child doesn’t really work out. This both due to the lack of understanding the monsters and magic that take Deidre and the parents who aren’t really flushed out. They are surface, side characters that you can’t connect to at all.
This confusion of magic and the monsters also effects the end of the story. You don’t know what ultimately happens to Deidre and Skye’s character changes totally. The ending leaves with so many questions you would think there is a second book coming but this is a stand alone. It isn’t an ending that leaves you with the type of questions that are open to interpretation, in my opinion, but instead are just confusing and unsatisfying.

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