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A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between. It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being … This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underg A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between. It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being … This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him 'Imp' only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops. He's a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn't know where he fits. But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he'll stop at nothing to see it come to pass …


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A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between. It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being … This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underg A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between. It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being … This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underground lair where monsters dwell, he looks just like a human boy – much to the disgust of everyone watching. Even the grumpy gargoyles who adopt him and nickname him 'Imp' only want him to steal chocolate for them from the nearby shops. He's a child with feet in both worlds, and he doesn't know where he fits. But little does Imp realise that Thunderguts, king of the ogres, has a great and dangerous destiny in mind for him, and he'll stop at nothing to see it come to pass …

30 review for The Monster Who Wasn't

  1. 5 out of 5

    Belles Middle Grade Library

    I really enjoyed this! It took me a minute to get into it, but I think that had more to do w/what was going on w/my pup at the exact time that I picked this up. This was such a beautiful story. It was so unique in its details, the backstory, & just the whole story of Sam. There’s a big message on family, belonging, & just ones identity. Also, the power souls have. And how many humans waste theirs. There are different “species” of monsters, & they are all described in such vivid detail. Sam is tr I really enjoyed this! It took me a minute to get into it, but I think that had more to do w/what was going on w/my pup at the exact time that I picked this up. This was such a beautiful story. It was so unique in its details, the backstory, & just the whole story of Sam. There’s a big message on family, belonging, & just ones identity. Also, the power souls have. And how many humans waste theirs. There are different “species” of monsters, & they are all described in such vivid detail. Sam is trying to figure out who he is, what he is, & where he belongs. There are a lot of twists & turns throughout his adventure & I loved it all. My favorite are his “pack”-the gargoyles Bladder, Wheedle, & Spigot. Oh and Daniel the angel was amazing. My absolute favorite character was Bladder though. I loved him. This was a magical adventure, w/deep meaning behind it all. I highly recommend it. Beautiful cover of course as well!💜

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ritika Chhabra

    Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. "It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters came into being." The opening lines of Shelley's The Monster Who Wasn't are, without a doubt, few of the best opening lines I've read till date. They captured me instantly and I was eager to find out more about this strange world Shelley intends to take us, all the while wondering about this monster who wasn't. What was he not? Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. "It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters came into being." The opening lines of Shelley's The Monster Who Wasn't are, without a doubt, few of the best opening lines I've read till date. They captured me instantly and I was eager to find out more about this strange world Shelley intends to take us, all the while wondering about this monster who wasn't. What was he not? A monster? Or he wasn't anything? What? I was beyond curious and I intended to find out just about everything about this world. And I wasn't disappointed. This is the story of a monster who was born at a very crucial time, and did not quite successfully end up being one. An old man's last sigh and a baby's first laugh is what made him so he was a little bit of both—he was a monster and he was a human looking being. But as soon as he is born, he finds out that Thunderguts, the king of ogres, has some great plans for him, that he hopes to God he should never have to fulfill. The story takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride where one watches as the strange monster lives with the gargoyles, is called an "imp", is often confused for being a human and related to the Kavanagh family, is changed into Samuel and leaves us all speechless. The story is of adventure and excitement, of fantasy and love, of beauty and the need to appreciate it. It is of everything that a person can hope to look for while reading a book. And I was completely enraptured while I read it. The only thing about it that disappointed me a little (and which was also the reason why it took me so long to read it) was that I found it a little slow. I understand that Sam was seeing the world for the first time. He had been born for only half a day and had such a strange experience. He had to be looking at everything for the first time and marveling over it. But it felt to me, as a reader, that it was a little over the top. I understand that it was necessary but some of it was also too detailed for it to actually turn out to be boring. The descriptions, hence, disappointed me a bit. This was probably the only reason why it took me so long to finish it. Otherwise, the story was actually rather great. I particularly loved Daniel's character and was a little disappointed when I didn't get to see enough of him in the latter half of the book. Although he seemed a rather helpful person, he also felt to me one of those people who are somehow, conveniently present at the right situation at the right time. I mean, why did he have to leave Sam with the Kavanaghs when he knew he might be found out? Why didn't he do something different, something better? He very well had the strength to change the entire course of the novel and decided not to. This bothered me a little, but slowly, I came to appreciate why, in the end, was it necessary. (There wouldn't have been half of this book without that scene, lol.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Rees

    I absolutely adored this extraordinary story, full of wonderful characters, rich description and powerful messages relating to identity, familial bonds and belonging. It wholeheartedly captured my imagination as it took me on a riveting rollercoaster of fast-paced action through a series of tantalising twists and turns which astounded and delighted me. Deep down in The Hole, a monster has been hatched by the Ogre King, formed from the last regretful sigh of a dying man, and the first gurgling lau I absolutely adored this extraordinary story, full of wonderful characters, rich description and powerful messages relating to identity, familial bonds and belonging. It wholeheartedly captured my imagination as it took me on a riveting rollercoaster of fast-paced action through a series of tantalising twists and turns which astounded and delighted me. Deep down in The Hole, a monster has been hatched by the Ogre King, formed from the last regretful sigh of a dying man, and the first gurgling laugh of his grandchild. What hatches is an enigma: nothing from the known bestiary of monsters, but a young boy, with a heart and a soul. The boy has been created for a sinister purpose, but will he have the strength and courage to fight against his destiny? When he draws the keen and hungry attention of King Thunderguts, the ruler of the monsters, and his crone, he makes a desperate escape from the pandemonium that ensues. During his escape, he encounters three gargoyles: Wheedle, Bladder and Spigot. The relationship between the boy and the gargoyles is incredibly heart-warming as these gruff, kind-hearted creatures make him a part of their pack and give him a sense of belonging. They are hiding a secret of their own which, if revealed, would see them even more despised by the monsters than they already are. It also explains their kindness, humour, loyalty and protectiveness towards the boy – and possibly their love of chocolate! The diverse collection of monsters, who have their own hierarchy, are richly imagined and described in horribly delightful detail, striking a perfect balance between the scary and the grotesque. The aching vulnerability and innocence which radiates from the boy as he grapples with some of life’s big questions relating to identity and belonging is very touching: Who am I? Where do I belong? As he begins to find answers, the reader is drawn into some amazing twists and unexpected discoveries which makes this a book which I found impossible to put down. Thank you to Toppsta Book Giveaways and Bloomsbury Kids for a copy in return for an honest review of the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Britt Meter

    I was hesitant when I bought the book because it was for a kid ( or middle aged kid) but I was glad that I've read and finished the book. It was about an Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters,and gargoyles adopted Imp as their own but as the story kept going it was really well written. I really liked the angel Daniel who taught the Imp about everything about human emotion to vocabulary and their meaning. I really liked the imagination and the creativity in this book also- bu I was hesitant when I bought the book because it was for a kid ( or middle aged kid) but I was glad that I've read and finished the book. It was about an Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters,and gargoyles adopted Imp as their own but as the story kept going it was really well written. I really liked the angel Daniel who taught the Imp about everything about human emotion to vocabulary and their meaning. I really liked the imagination and the creativity in this book also- but I also liked Cornelia Funke's books also because it has good imagination and creativity in it also.5 stars for me

  5. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was such a heart warming story that i think everyone should read. Everything was amazing but there were afew small reasons why this wasnt 5 stars. Afew of the things were unrealistic, i mean I know it is a fantasy book but people dont die of blood loss from a small cut on their hand like Samuel almost did. Also it was unrealistic at the end when they just welcomed him back with no questions asked about what happened pr whether he was the reason it happened. Apart from that rant it was a wonder This was such a heart warming story that i think everyone should read. Everything was amazing but there were afew small reasons why this wasnt 5 stars. Afew of the things were unrealistic, i mean I know it is a fantasy book but people dont die of blood loss from a small cut on their hand like Samuel almost did. Also it was unrealistic at the end when they just welcomed him back with no questions asked about what happened pr whether he was the reason it happened. Apart from that rant it was a wonderful story with a great concept and funny jokes weaved between it all. Well done author!!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Xanna

    DNF I was intrigued by the blurb, hoping for a children's story á la Kate DiCamillo with good imagery and a philisophical subtext... however, there seemed to be very little subtext in it, it was just a children's story, not very amusing for adults. (Though the premise is still cute) That by itself is not terrible, but on top of that i found her writing style and descriptions very confusing, i found myself constantly drifting away and even unsure of what was happening and where the characters were DNF I was intrigued by the blurb, hoping for a children's story á la Kate DiCamillo with good imagery and a philisophical subtext... however, there seemed to be very little subtext in it, it was just a children's story, not very amusing for adults. (Though the premise is still cute) That by itself is not terrible, but on top of that i found her writing style and descriptions very confusing, i found myself constantly drifting away and even unsure of what was happening and where the characters were in the space.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    I loved the concept and it begun so beautifully. Fairies are created from the first laugh of a baby, while monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Entertaining up until (view spoiler)[a baby was kidnapped by the monsters and taken underground where humans cannot survive. Throughout the ordeal, the monsters keep reminding our hero that the baby is probably dead (hide spoiler)] and I found that distressing for a middle grade novel. If you have a child with a fear of monsters, this won't help t I loved the concept and it begun so beautifully. Fairies are created from the first laugh of a baby, while monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Entertaining up until (view spoiler)[a baby was kidnapped by the monsters and taken underground where humans cannot survive. Throughout the ordeal, the monsters keep reminding our hero that the baby is probably dead (hide spoiler)] and I found that distressing for a middle grade novel. If you have a child with a fear of monsters, this won't help to alleviate their fears. Quite the opposite.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    This is such a fun, heart-warming, hilarious read. I loved all the characters and how much imagination was woven through the story. I now wish I had a bunch of chocolate-loving gargoyles to hang out with too!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eilaora

    The whole concept of a monster who wasn’t truly monstrous is so poignant. Are we the circumstances of our birth? Can we change our destiny? Can we become something different? The idea that monsters are born from a person’s last sigh is like an arrow to the heart! It makes us consider what kind of “monster” our life will create when the chill winds of eternity blow away our birthdays. How we live our lives really does affect and impact those around us. Really well developed characters and themes, The whole concept of a monster who wasn’t truly monstrous is so poignant. Are we the circumstances of our birth? Can we change our destiny? Can we become something different? The idea that monsters are born from a person’s last sigh is like an arrow to the heart! It makes us consider what kind of “monster” our life will create when the chill winds of eternity blow away our birthdays. How we live our lives really does affect and impact those around us. Really well developed characters and themes, and very carefully crafted eloquent sentences. Her style really reminds me of C S Lewis as well as Roald Dahl. There is a real ease to the flow of the narrative. I also thought of the Lemony Snicket’s Series and Miss Peregrines... as they are about children who have been left alone through no fault of their own and mistreated by adults around them. A story that will endure even after you grow up due to the depth of the storytelling.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I loved this - gargoyles with hearts, an ogre king, an angel, a peace dove and a special monster. Sure, it wasn't perfect and I did pick up one minor editing error (The imp's name was used before he had decided on his name) but they are minor quibbles when I think about the emotions I felt when reading this story. A wonderful fairy tale for all ages. I loved this - gargoyles with hearts, an ogre king, an angel, a peace dove and a special monster. Sure, it wasn't perfect and I did pick up one minor editing error (The imp's name was used before he had decided on his name) but they are minor quibbles when I think about the emotions I felt when reading this story. A wonderful fairy tale for all ages.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    A wonderfully heartwarming story about family and belonging, with a lot of monsters thrown in. As well as a main character you just want to hug, three equally adorable and hilarious gargoyles (how can you not love three gargoyles of varying degrees of cantankerousness, who love chocolate and know what the film Alien is?) and a kind-hearted angel. Looking forward to and very interested in seeing where the story goes next!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zoe James-williams

    An Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters. Some grumpy yet adorable gargoyles adopt him because he can steal chocolate without being noticed. Can Imp find his place in the world or will the King of Ogres use him for his evil plan? A wonderfully Gothic fantasy full of good and bad monsters which will enthrall children. I especially loved Imp's hilarious adopted family. Spiderwick Chronicles meets Labyrinth. An Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters. Some grumpy yet adorable gargoyles adopt him because he can steal chocolate without being noticed. Can Imp find his place in the world or will the King of Ogres use him for his evil plan? A wonderfully Gothic fantasy full of good and bad monsters which will enthrall children. I especially loved Imp's hilarious adopted family. Spiderwick Chronicles meets Labyrinth.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rhian Pritchard

    It’s a really sweet idea, but sadly not very well written.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate (pooxs_insta)

    Took a while to get into, but an enjoyable and heartwarming read

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elysian_booksish

    The first thing that caught my eye about this book is the concept that monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Depending on the heaviness of deed from that sigh, the type of monster will be born. As most of us know from Tinkerbell, fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. Well, what happens if the last sigh and the first laugh is combined into one? We explore that notion in The Monster Who Wasn't. "Imp" as they call him at the beginning of the book is a monster that looks, smells, and fee The first thing that caught my eye about this book is the concept that monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Depending on the heaviness of deed from that sigh, the type of monster will be born. As most of us know from Tinkerbell, fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. Well, what happens if the last sigh and the first laugh is combined into one? We explore that notion in The Monster Who Wasn't. "Imp" as they call him at the beginning of the book is a monster that looks, smells, and feels exactly like a human boy. He was born in the dark underground monster cave for a purpose rendered by the King of Ogres - Thunderguts. Amid chaos wherein Thunderguts tries to capture the boy, a pack of gargoyles saves the boy thinking he was one of their own since 'Gargoyles comes in all shapes and sizes' . While the story may seem simple from the start, it is filled with mysteries that the reader will actively rack their brains to solve. I know I did! The ending was a surprise for me, I went into this book without any expectations as I often do when reading middle-grade books. I feel that this is a book filled with whimsy wonder and the backside of the usual faerie fantasy middle-grade books filled with smiley smiles and dancing. This book is about the lesser written dark side of fantasy where evil lurks in the corners of the human world. One thing about this book is that it is quite graphic in words about violence. It is not a book for children who want to overcome their fears of monsters but rather for kids who are daring to explore the uncharted, formless world of monsters. The themes surrounding this book that I adore with my entire soul is found, families and LOVE. It is truly Magnificent. A tale fit for lovers of The Hunchback. Thank you to @definitelybooks for sending me this mystic read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicke Pearson

    Firstly, I want to say, this isn’t a bad book! There were some parts that were really good but I was just bored! I thought about DNFing it but only finished it because it’s less than 300 pages! Bladder was my favourite character, his grumpy quips made me smile.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pauline

    The first in a new adventure trilogy, readers of fantasy will adore this book. “Imp” is a creature born in the underworld but with a foot in each world. He looks like a human child with a courageous heart and soul but he has been brought to life by the Ogre King, ‘King Thunderguts’, as a tool of evil and he must choose his own path in life. There is a rich tradition of Celtic mythology style monsters in this book and our hero encounters ogres, pixies, boggarts and banshees in his quest to learn The first in a new adventure trilogy, readers of fantasy will adore this book. “Imp” is a creature born in the underworld but with a foot in each world. He looks like a human child with a courageous heart and soul but he has been brought to life by the Ogre King, ‘King Thunderguts’, as a tool of evil and he must choose his own path in life. There is a rich tradition of Celtic mythology style monsters in this book and our hero encounters ogres, pixies, boggarts and banshees in his quest to learn his identity and find his family. When a baby is taken he must draw on his internal character strengths and the help of friends to rescue her from the dangers of the underworld. Fabulous characters and rich and imaginative descriptions abound in this book. Relationships are at the forefront, particularly the relationship Imp develops with three chocolate loving protective gargoyles. There is something for every reader in this book and we can’t wait to read more from this author. Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi2Yf...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Fun. Good worldbuilding. Felt a bit too much on the religious side for me? The gargoyles were fantastic.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Giltrow

    I chose this book to read aloud to my 10 year old son and we loved it! The premise of a creature born from a person's last sigh and a baby's first laugh is magical and unique. We loved reading about Sam's struggle to understand what he is, where he fits in and what love is. The climax of the story had us reading until we had finished the book. The characters in the story are unique and lovable. A great book for middle grade children to read. I chose this book to read aloud to my 10 year old son and we loved it! The premise of a creature born from a person's last sigh and a baby's first laugh is magical and unique. We loved reading about Sam's struggle to understand what he is, where he fits in and what love is. The climax of the story had us reading until we had finished the book. The characters in the story are unique and lovable. A great book for middle grade children to read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    A young imp is born from the combination of a last sigh and a baby's first laugh. His creation makes him unique and with the addition of a human soul, he becomes a valuable commodity in the ogre king's fight to return to hunting humans. After fleeing the underworld, the imp, who comes to call himself Samuel, joins up with some gargoyles and takes up residence on top of an old church. Since he looks human, Sam is sent by the gargoyles to obtain chocolate where he meets the family of the baby and A young imp is born from the combination of a last sigh and a baby's first laugh. His creation makes him unique and with the addition of a human soul, he becomes a valuable commodity in the ogre king's fight to return to hunting humans. After fleeing the underworld, the imp, who comes to call himself Samuel, joins up with some gargoyles and takes up residence on top of an old church. Since he looks human, Sam is sent by the gargoyles to obtain chocolate where he meets the family of the baby and grandfather whose sigh and laugh created him. He feels drawn to them and with the help of an angel he flees the ogre king and goes to stay with this family. But when the baby is stolen, Sam is forced to choose whether to help the human family he is drawn to or stay away from the underworld and protect himself. I wanted to like this story more than I did. Sam is a sympathetic character, but his creation felt creepy and ugly to me. I did enjoy Sam's interactions with the gargoyles. My personal beliefs prevented me from really enjoying the parts involving the angel and church. There was plenty of action, especially once Sam goes after the baby, but the plot as a whole felt odd. The themes of friendship and family and the importance of having a soul were clear. Overall, I enjoyed some aspects of the book, but other aspects didn't really click for me. This I believe, is because of personal opinions and likes and dislikes. The book is well-written and could work for the right reader, but I wasn't that reader.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Giselle Delsol

    The Monster who Wasn’t isn’t your average children’s book, it’s a gem. Like the protagonist, this book is a little jewel you’ll want to keep. It’s a tale that needs to be read, and reread. Created by the combination of a man’s last sigh and a baby’s laugh, a human-looking imp hatches under the impetus of an ogre king’s breath. While born with some knowledge, the imp boy’s experiences quickly increase his vocabulary and his understanding of the world. An understanding that must operate quickly, as The Monster who Wasn’t isn’t your average children’s book, it’s a gem. Like the protagonist, this book is a little jewel you’ll want to keep. It’s a tale that needs to be read, and reread. Created by the combination of a man’s last sigh and a baby’s laugh, a human-looking imp hatches under the impetus of an ogre king’s breath. While born with some knowledge, the imp boy’s experiences quickly increase his vocabulary and his understanding of the world. An understanding that must operate quickly, as crones and trolls try to capture him mere seconds after he comes to life. Three gargoyles rescue the newly-hatched imp boy and hide him from the ogre king. Further helped by an angel, the imp boy struggles to understand how he fits in the monster world and why everyone is so interested in him. Is he to be eaten? Sacrificed? Should he live with monsters, or humans? Gargoyles, trolls, elves, pixies, brownies, banshees and humans all supply clues as he unravels the mysteries surrounding his existence. And mysteries there are, as are questions on belonging, and questions about the nature of love, of life, and of death. T.C. Shelley’s writing is exquisite, and often endearingly funny. Between the delicate brushstrokes of her prose, her intricate characters, and settings that belong to the stuff of both dreams and nightmares, The Monster who Wasn’t is a book that will delight the children in your life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christina Reid

    The opening line is fantastic and I was hooked by the concept. I loved all the different magical creatures, especially the Gargoyles. Discovering the world through Sam's eyes is fascinating but, unfortunately at times very confusing because he doesn't understand what is happening a lot of the time meaning the reader might get confused too. There also seemed to be not internal logic as to when he remembered something and when he knew nothing. An interesting idea, with a lot to recommend it for any The opening line is fantastic and I was hooked by the concept. I loved all the different magical creatures, especially the Gargoyles. Discovering the world through Sam's eyes is fascinating but, unfortunately at times very confusing because he doesn't understand what is happening a lot of the time meaning the reader might get confused too. There also seemed to be not internal logic as to when he remembered something and when he knew nothing. An interesting idea, with a lot to recommend it for any fans of fantasy or children who like their monster stories a bit dark and disgusting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Dougherty

    When you're following a protagonist who was literally born yesterday, you know you're in for a different kind of story. With a mythology that borrows and blends elements from English folklore to C.S. Lewis to Lewis Carroll (not to mention the clever little device of its own main premise), a plot that drops you straight into the action and whips you through its three day span, characters that leap off the page and visual descriptions just begging to be adapted into a film, this is a fantastic rea When you're following a protagonist who was literally born yesterday, you know you're in for a different kind of story. With a mythology that borrows and blends elements from English folklore to C.S. Lewis to Lewis Carroll (not to mention the clever little device of its own main premise), a plot that drops you straight into the action and whips you through its three day span, characters that leap off the page and visual descriptions just begging to be adapted into a film, this is a fantastic read for young adults. Or the young at heart. Or anyone, really.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elena Paige

    I really liked it. Great characters and an awesome finale!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hastha Chand

    Title: The Monster Who Wasn't Author: T.C. Shelley Publisher: Bloomsbury Publication: 19 Sep 2019 Genre: Fantasy My Take: "The Monster Who Wasn't" is a beautifully written story of family bond and belonging. I liked the concept behind how monsters come into a being. It was something I never heard or came across. I don't remember the last time I loved the characters of a book unanimously. Be it Daniel, Sam (the imp boy), the adorable gargoyles or the Kavanaghs I loved each one of them. The way Daniel t Title: The Monster Who Wasn't Author: T.C. Shelley Publisher: Bloomsbury Publication: 19 Sep 2019 Genre: Fantasy My Take: "The Monster Who Wasn't" is a beautifully written story of family bond and belonging. I liked the concept behind how monsters come into a being. It was something I never heard or came across. I don't remember the last time I loved the characters of a book unanimously. Be it Daniel, Sam (the imp boy), the adorable gargoyles or the Kavanaghs I loved each one of them. The way Daniel took care of the imp boy made him an absolute favourite. Despite giving shelter to the imp boy, Bladder wasn't quite happy in welcoming the imp into their pack, but this paved the way for the turn of events that made the imp boy question his own identity and where he actually belonged. The arrival of the Banshee, Pixies, Brownies, Goblins and the arduous journey of Sam to the underworld to save Beatrice made the latter part of the book even more interesting. The author through her eloquent writing and vivid descriptions will teleport you into the world that she has so exceptionally created where you cannot help but believe the very existence of the creatures of the dark. For the family who Sam (the imp boy) risked his life made it all worth in the end. Overall, its an interesting read with great world-building, wonderful character development, and a completely engrossing narrative. I'm eagerly waiting for the second instalment in this trilogy. A definite recommendation from my side if you love middle-grade fantasy fiction. I would like to thank Bloomsbury India for providing me with a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ananya thefoodandbooklife

    The book hooked me in right from the beginning. The technicalities of the birth of a monster had enough of realism mixed with the fantasy aspect to feel like its something that could possibly happen. I wasn't sure if I liked the protagonist in the beginning but as the story progressed I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. He is sweet, loving and innocent and all his decisions are based on what his heart tells is right. As soon as the Gargoyles came into the story, I fell in love with them. I a The book hooked me in right from the beginning. The technicalities of the birth of a monster had enough of realism mixed with the fantasy aspect to feel like its something that could possibly happen. I wasn't sure if I liked the protagonist in the beginning but as the story progressed I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. He is sweet, loving and innocent and all his decisions are based on what his heart tells is right. As soon as the Gargoyles came into the story, I fell in love with them. I am a sucker for characters with a gruff exterior and molten chocolate insides. I kept waiting for one of the 'good' characters in the story to betray the Imp because they gave off that kind of vibes. It is a reflection on the author's storytelling prowess that she kept me guessing who that character would be till the very end. I was curious to see how the author would handle introducing multiple fantasy creatures and if the story would get lost in the details but that was not the case. I loved how unpredictable the story was. Although it has been categorised as 'Middle Grade' it could very easily sell as Young Adult and wow the target audience. The concepts of loss and guilt, of the need to belong and the camaraderie shown by the characters will definitely interest a wide age range. The book is equal parts funny and sad. The dialogues are witty and sassy. It was a brilliant read especially as a debut novel and I can't wait to see what the author comes up with.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan Gavin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. DNF’d The story concept is cute, BUT there were things that were such a disappointment. Which breaks my heart. As not only is the author local BUT I love stories about gargoyles. The gargoyles are just stone animals, when in actual fact gargoyles are chimeras. Made up of different parts of animals..... but that’s not what you get in this story at all. Just a stone lion,bird and bull. The gargoyles are awake 24/7 and show them selves to pple.... nah for me this is a no no. Yea there a rules to brea DNF’d The story concept is cute, BUT there were things that were such a disappointment. Which breaks my heart. As not only is the author local BUT I love stories about gargoyles. The gargoyles are just stone animals, when in actual fact gargoyles are chimeras. Made up of different parts of animals..... but that’s not what you get in this story at all. Just a stone lion,bird and bull. The gargoyles are awake 24/7 and show them selves to pple.... nah for me this is a no no. Yea there a rules to break like vampires that sparkle in the sun, but things along this line are a nope. Then there’s the woman who works at the chocolate store who just happily gives the boy sweets every single day. Without question. Without a hassle etc. just come on NO Grown up would ever do this. Just didn’t sit right at all. It breaks my heart, as I would have loved to read this to my niece in the near future. But na it’s a pass from me. 3.8 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dimity Powell

    Most of us have believed in monsters at some point in our lives, whether metaphorically or from when we believed they dwelt underneath our beds and behind our bedroom doors. This extraordinary middle grade fiction not only reignites the notion that we coexist with all manner of devilish beasts, it bravely intimates that not all of them are bad. Could there be some that fall somewhere in between good and bad? Is it possible to love a monster? Sam hatches one fateful night in the vast underground Most of us have believed in monsters at some point in our lives, whether metaphorically or from when we believed they dwelt underneath our beds and behind our bedroom doors. This extraordinary middle grade fiction not only reignites the notion that we coexist with all manner of devilish beasts, it bravely intimates that not all of them are bad. Could there be some that fall somewhere in between good and bad? Is it possible to love a monster? Sam hatches one fateful night in the vast underground lair where all monsters dwell and begin. He is a curious and inexplicable creation never before seen by the noxious collection of pixies, ogres and trolls. Resembling something of an imp, the grumpy gargoyles adopt him as one of their own. Displaced and unexplained, Imp (aka Sam) learns more and more about his new world with each passing minute, however not the answer to his existence; why he looks like a human but behaves like a monster. From atop his cathedral spire home, Sam adapts to gargoyle ways, meets Daniel, an ethereal angel and integrates himself into the world of humans during his quests for chocolate (for the greedy gargoyles). It's in May's chocolate shop that Sam encounters a pair of humans who set the next chapter of his story in mind-swirling motion. If monsters are breathed into being through a human's last sigh and their 'vileness is proportionate to the depth of a the sigher's regret', what then happens when that sigh is 'contaminated' with a baby's first laugh? Sam is about to find out. Throw Thunderguts, the evil ogre king with malicious plans for Sam into mix and all manner of other monstrosities bent on hunting him down (and possibly eating him) and you have a tale throbbing with thrills, spills and some very badly broken gargoyles. The Monster Who Wasn't is an exhilarating and surprisingly tender rollercoaster ride through the foulest cesspools of monsterdom all the way back to the stars and beyond. T C Shelley's poetic prose transports readers to imaginative extremes in completely plausible ways. My views on gargoyles who infest ancient buildings with abhorrent demeanors and dispositions for example has been soundly challenged; so much so, I wish I could scale sheer walls as easily as they. And although the action is pulse-racingly palpable and the language deliciously evocative, there is plenty of purpose layered into this story. Monsters move in packs; family unity is exemplified through a pack's loyalty to one another no matter what they look or sound like. Shelley proves (monster) blood is thicker than slimy water and means even more when heart and soul flavour the soup of one's character. We are persuaded that not all that appears bad is rotten; it is the core of a thing that matters most, even if this is not immediately noticeable. Conversely, all that sparkles (except for babies) is not necessarily good; beware of appearances and mollifying words, of hearing only that which you want to hear. There is so much more to take away from this novel but ultimately its success is due to its tangible magic and ability to entertain all the way to the end. Full marks for this fantasy tale and extra merit for allowing monsters to matter because I think it is possible to love a monster. I certainly loved this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    WhatBookNext .com

    Have you ever heard that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh? Monsters however, come from a last dying sigh of regret. Imp is a monster - formed by both of those things, looking like a twelve-year-old boy, but filled with monster thoughts and wishes by the breath of the King of Monsters. This king has plans for Imp. Big plans. Plans that will threaten life for all humans. Imp doesn't know this as he is whisked away by gargoyles from The Hole (a pit deep underground where, pixies, bogarts, Have you ever heard that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh? Monsters however, come from a last dying sigh of regret. Imp is a monster - formed by both of those things, looking like a twelve-year-old boy, but filled with monster thoughts and wishes by the breath of the King of Monsters. This king has plans for Imp. Big plans. Plans that will threaten life for all humans. Imp doesn't know this as he is whisked away by gargoyles from The Hole (a pit deep underground where, pixies, bogarts, gargoyles and all manner of terrible monsters are born). He doesn't know that a haggard crone and the Monster King have been trying for ages to make a monster just like him. Once above ground, Imp meets Daniel, an angel that humans can't see. Daniel looks out for Imp, wanting to give him a new name. But when Imp's new Gargoyle family and Daniel learn that the Crone and King are after Imp, Daniel takes Imp to a place of safety. The very family that gave him his human side. Imp is torn between his human side and his gargoyle side. Should he do what is right, following the sparkle and joy of a young human life, or succumb to the whispers and promises to his monster within? The rich description of the monster's lair deep within the earth, made me feel like I was there. It's dark and deep, rank and frightening, but I cheered Imp on as he tried to choose a side. The decision didn't come lightly and it's  result surprising, pulling me even further into a story of souls and magic, angels and monsters, light and dark, and good and evil. The Monster who Wasn't is refreshingly different. Don't let the bright cover fool you. These monsters want to eat you and use your bones for toothpicks! NOT for the faint-hearted.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Naadhira Zahari

    This is the story of a boy who is desperately seeking a place to call home, a place where he belongs. Sam is made out of a laugh and a sigh so he is half monster and half angel but can also be easily passed as human. This is his journey as he finds out about his identity, worth and hopefully tumbling down the bad guys along the adventure. The first few chapters were confusing because so many things were happening all at once. I couldn't even pinpoint which pov it was coming from. But then slowly This is the story of a boy who is desperately seeking a place to call home, a place where he belongs. Sam is made out of a laugh and a sigh so he is half monster and half angel but can also be easily passed as human. This is his journey as he finds out about his identity, worth and hopefully tumbling down the bad guys along the adventure. The first few chapters were confusing because so many things were happening all at once. I couldn't even pinpoint which pov it was coming from. But then slowly and with ease, it started to progress and develop. I found myself following through Sam and his unique friends as they go through a confusing phase and slowly grow fonder for one another. Its honestly a normal thing to seek balance in life, comfort and surrounded by love and happiness. To be around with people like family and friends who would always look out for you no matter what. This was not only a story of acceptance and being situated into the lifestyle, it was also discovering one's true self and purpose and deciding what to do next afterwards. Sam was thrown into difficult situations a few times along the way but he always made the right choices not for his own sake but also for the people around him. And that truly makes him the best protagonist as readers will follow him as he navigates a story of thrilling turns and twists to finally settling in peace. This is a great story of monsters, angels and humans thrown together to create a journey that couldn't be found elsewhere. It is the perfect read for all ages and it will leave you at the end with the feeling of hope and joy.

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