cover image The Monster of Elendhaven

The Monster of Elendhaven

Jennifer Giesbrecht., $16.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-250-22568-9

Full of foul, intoxicating odors and fouler characters, this disquieting short novel employs serial suicide and multiple homicides to offer criticism of its decadent setting. In vaguely Victorian, coal-grimed Elendhaven, Johann, a supernatural companion mistakenly summoned by sorcerer Florian Leickenbloom, becomes Florian’s assistant in crafting a plan to reintroduce a deadly plague. Florian, last heir of the fallen Leickenbloom fortune, schemes to collapse Elendhaven’s nouveau riche elites and take vengeance on the neighboring countries who profited on the devastation wrought by the previous plague outbreak. Opposing him and Johann is a Mage Hunter who’s charged with removing either Florian’s magic or his life. Giesbrecht tries for a sardonic tone in showing how societies deserve the monsters that they produce, but the imagery of pestilence and splattered bodily fluids tips the balance from picaresque to grotesque. Her work goes beyond grimdark to something more like grimglum, and few readers will be able to stick it out even for the brief length of this misery-marinated story. (Sept.)