Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

Only a Monster (Only a Monster, #1)

by Vanessa Len

With the sweeping romance of Passenger and the dark fantasy edge of This Savage Song, this standout YA contemporary fantasy debut from Vanessa Len, the first in a planned trilogy, is utterly fresh and unique.

Monster. Hero. Villain. Savior.

To save her family, Joan must become them all.

Half-human and half-monster, Joan Chang-Hunt discovered her heritage the same night her family was brutally murdered in front of her.

Joan’s monster heritage means she can steal life from humans with just a touch. Her human heritage means she swore never to use this power.

But to bring her family back, Joan will have to use her deadly abilities to journey deep into the monster world—and confront the shocking truth at its heart, and the dark fate that awaits her there.

Dive deep into the world of Only a Monster, where hidden worlds dwell in the shadows, beautiful monsters steal life from humans with just a touch, and secrets are the most powerful weapon of all.

Reviewed by Quirky Cat on

4.5 of 5 stars


Only a Monster is Vanessa Len's debut novel and the start of a series of the same name. I can already honestly say that I'll be counting down the days to the release of the next book. (I really hope that OwlCrate does special editions for the rest of the series!).

Every summer, Joan heads off to spend some time with the rest of her family in London. They're...different, but she loves them. But then, one day, it all suddenly makes brutal sense to her why her family is so different from the rest.

They're all monsters. Not figuratively, literally. This revelation is just the beginning, as Joan's life is quickly thrown into peril. After all, where there are monsters, there are also monster hunters, which means that Joan is very far from safe.

“If you need to run, always imply that you'll return.”

I can't get enough of dark and brooding fantasy, so I was thrilled at the announcement of Only a Monster by Vanessa Len. Better yet – it's the first in a series, which means that there is more to come! Be still my heart.

Only a Monster is very much a YA urban fantasy, which means it intersects two of my favorite genres. It's also a bit darker due to the very nature of the story. In other words, it's perfect for those who love atmospheric fantasy reads with an emotional twist.

Joan's story is so very compelling – she spent her whole life thinking her family was a bit odd but otherwise normal. Then, on the day her powers sparked, she realized the truth: they were all monsters. Literally, not figuratively. Things take a turn for the worse after this realization, with loss and blood on the rise.

Balancing out the horror and loss, we have time traveling (thanks to the monster ability within their blood), a romantic subplot, and a heist. All with the ultimate goal of saving the day, of course. The irony is not lost on me.

I want to talk about so many heartbreaking and compelling twists, but I refuse to spoil them for readers. Instead, let me say this: Only a Monster ripped out my heart and proudly showed it to me. Now, I beg you to go and read this book so that we may experience the same thing and talk about it together.

Read more reviews over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks

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Reading updates

  • Started reading
  • 3 May, 2022: Finished reading
  • 3 May, 2022: Reviewed