cover image The Monster Who Wasn’t

The Monster Who Wasn’t

T.C. Shelley. Bloomsbury, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0456-2

In Shelley’s highly imaginative, immersive debut, Monsterkind is born from a human’s last sigh. When dying patriarch Samuel Kavanagh meets his newborn granddaughter, Beatrice, he sighs and she laughs, spawning a half-monster, half-fairy imp who looks discomfitingly like a human preteen. Deep in The Hole, where ogre king Thunderguts reigns over trolls, brownies, banshees, and the like with a stone fist, he and his loyal crone have monumental plans for the newly hatched imp boy. But before they can snag him, gargoyles Wheedle, Bladder, and Spigot take the child “upstairs”—to the world’s surface—where other monsters cannot stand direct sunlight. Cared for by the gargoyle pack and an angel, the unnamed boy has an eventful first few days. When he coincidentally meets the Kavanagh family in a chocolate shop, a shocking resemblance convinces them he has the soul of dead relatives. Naming the boy Samuel and inviting him into their home, the Kavanaghs believe they’re due for a happily ever after—but in Shelley’s cluttered fantastical world, danger threatens Sam and his newfound family. Allusions to Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” and considerations about what makes a monster round out this engaging if packed series starter. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Catherine Pellegrino, Marjacq Scripts. (Sept.) [/em]