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Review of Monstrous by J.L. Murray

See full issue for 2017 10-30
by Amy R. Biddle

The Rundown

Frankie Mourning should be dead. She’s not sure why she woke up with her insides stitched back together, or why dark shadows whisper to her in the dark, but this is her life now. She calls the shadows wraiths, and they lead her to wicked men, commanding her to murder them. When she’s not killing killers, she drowns her sorrows, her guilt and her past in alcohol. The shadows tell her she is seeking redemption, but it doesn’t feel right. The killing feels too good.

Despite the madness of it all, Frankie stumbles blindly through her days in a haze of blood and alcohol until the wraiths send her to the one place she cannot bear to go: home. With a detective hot on her heels, she obeys, but she fears the demons of her past. But even Frankie’s worst nightmares haven’t prepared her for what she will find.

MONSTROUS is the kind of book that envelops the reader from the first page, and doesn’t let go until the story is finished. Not only is Frankie a delightfully tortured and wicked character with an odd but steadfast moral compass, she is a kickass woman with a wisecrack for every occasion and a death wish that makes bravery seem weak. Wrapped up in the twisted plot is a reluctant love story that grows stronger with every murder.

It’s not just the character development that makes MONSTROUS shine, though. Woven between the romance and the swashbuckling action is a supernatural suspense that makes it difficult to put down. Shadows lurk in corners and inhabit mirrors, ravens follow Frankie everywhere she goes, and throughout it all are snippets of childhood memories that Frankie has suppressed: watching her mother and sister murder her father; watching her sister die, enveloped in flames. From the very first page, Murray artfully constructs a haunting spirit realm, built on tantalizing hints that are vivid enough to make arm hairs stand on end, yet mysterious enough to keep her readers guessing.


The Recommendation

If you’re looking for a book that will make you squirm as you read, look no further. MONSTROUS is haunting and suspenseful; equal parts gore and heart. With a foul-mouthed heroine who has more of a conscience than she would like to admit, and a cast of dubiously moral characters, MONSTROUS is not for the faint of heart or the easily spooked. And beware: once you start reading you will be cast under the author’s spell, and will likely find yourself possessed with the need to continue the series.


The Rating Selected as a Top Pick!

Top Pick! 5 Stars (out of five): Freaking amazing. Any agent or publishing house that passed this one up made a big mistake. It was selected by our reviewer as a personal favorite. This is also a nomination for our Novel of the Year award.

The Links

More about Monstrous on UBR

The Reviewer

Amy R. Biddle

Amy Biddle is co-founder and managing editor of Underground Book Reviews. Her debut novel, The Atheist’s Prayer, is a dark comedy about a fairy-worshiping suicide cult. She is most at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains or surrounded by the great blue sea.

Visit Amy R. Biddle‘s website.

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