Names are powerful things. For a long time, Johann of Elendhaven was a thing without a name. After a drunken sailor named Johann in a fit of violence, Johann’s dark and twisted nature took root as he learned survival on the streets.
Florian Leickenbloom is the last surviving member of the family that built Elendhaven from the ground up. He’s a frail magician with a passion for revenge and a talent for twisting the minds of others.
Together, Johann and Florian make for a dark and twisted pair. Even though I found myself rooting for them to triumph over the innocent town of Elendhaven, I was never truly invested in their fate. Both are unrepentantly despicable and equally deserving of the title Monster of Elendhaven.
The Monster of Elendhaven is not an easy story to describe. It’s a bit like a gay Frankenstein meets a post-apocalyptic Count of Monte Cristo… only darker. Johann and Florian are nearly as terrible to each other as they are to Elendhaven, and despite the sexual tension between them do not expect this story to be a romance. While this novella is a brilliant and gripping horror, it would make for an absolutely horrendous love story.
The broader world in which this story takes place is fascinating, even if mostly confined to the background. A magical disaster akin to a nuclear Armageddon took place hundreds of years ago, and the city of Elendhaven is built in one of the craters that were left behind. Parts of the world were corrupted beyond repair, and the occasional deformed creature still appears from time to time.
There’s also a secret organization of deadly Mage Hunters who don’t take too kindly to magicians abusing their powers.
The Monster of Elendhaven is not fun. It’s not happy. And by all that’s dark and unholy, it is not a romance.
It is, however, a compelling and disturbing dark fantasy that’s lingered in my imagination for weeks.
I received a free ARC of this book from Tor.com in exchange for a fair and honest review. The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht releases September 24, 2019.