Updated: May 10
A Book Review (Spoilers Edition)
“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.”
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
Where do I begin with this? For a novella, this book was amazing! I gave it a 4.5/5 star rating. Hear me out.
I read this in a sitting. It took me maybe 4 hours to read and I was obsessed and I wanted more.
Writing Style: Fantastic
I found the writing style very simple but it had enough spice and flavor for me to keep reading. It was very lyrical and poetic and dark at the same time. There were times when I was reading something and the words bit in a vicious way and i liked it. Does this count as a kink?
“You can learn a lot about someone's inner life if allowed to examine them the way their shadow does – close enough to breathe down their neck, but unnoticed, unremarked upon, invisible.”
We are introduced with a mysterious yet violent man named Johannas. He is a man yet not a man, a creature of the dark born to kill and obtain other's gifts and talents. One day he becomes obsessed with a beautiful man; an enigma, (a curiosity in a jar). He follows him for days and trails after him, slowly learning that this man really isn't as simple as those around him.
A knife to his neck, Johanas's takes his claim. The beautiful slight man introduces himself as Florian, a man with special abilities. At the beginning we see from an outside perspective of Florian as a wealthy man, with lavish taste and a humble temperament. But like an onion, he has layers that the longer we read, the more we realize that he just as much of a monster as Johanns.
Johanns admits that he was going to kill Florian but decides that he will become the man's bodyguard as long as he's allowed to kill and be a part of Florian's life.
The Story: 4.5./5
The story was very descriptive and didn't hold back when it came to the imagery of blood and murder. But it was done so well. There were times when I had to stop and take a moment because I was so engrossed with what I was reading. At the very beginning we are thrust into the story of Johann, stalking and obsessing over a stranger we later come to know as Florian.
What begins as a carefree employment of Florian's part turns into fetch for the master on Johann's part. We watch as Florian who is painted as a fragile beautiful being set on vengeance bloom into a dangerous monster who's had his eyes set on the whole town to burn.
“There'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.”
At the very beginning I could sense the evil from the two and was very aware how much of a monster they both were. One that could never die and one that could manipulate people's thoughts and feelings with a flick of a wrist. But gradually as the pages turn, so did my mind. What started as disgust and hopes for the two to be caught, slowly turned into silent support of the characters. Holding my breath when a mage hunter stepped into the picture to kill the monsters of the town, cheering for the deaths of those that wronged Florian.
And that was when I realized how well the author wrote this book. I put it down disturbed with not only the story but with myself. How easily I was able to be manipulated into rooting for the characters.
There were a couple things that did make me knock a little start out of the ranking. I felt like there were many more unanswered questions and loops that were never answered or tied. I would have loved to see more on the world building in retrospect of magic and how Johanns was able to be born with a dark power of never dying, not matter how many times he tried to kill himself or someone else killing him.
I loved that this book was unapologetically dark, romantic, gory, vengeful and mysterious. A book every Tim Burton or Stephen King fan should read. It's one that I will pick up once every year, at night, when it rains. Its best you go into reading this without knowing what you're going to get. I certainly didn't.
“Is this it? Johann wondered. The longer fall I was looking for? To know that I was summoned up from the dark ether to do a monster's deeds for Hallandrette's truest son? And when our work is done, I will carry him to the bottom of the sea, where we both belong. Deep beneath the silt our bones will turn to salt.”