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The Descent of Monsters

(Tensorate #3)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,760 ratings  ·  307 reviews
JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden.

You are reading this because I am dead.

Something te
Paperback, 166 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by
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Dana It would not be ideal. As Greg mentioned, major characters from the previous novellas are featured, but also understanding the setting, creatures, mag…moreIt would not be ideal. As Greg mentioned, major characters from the previous novellas are featured, but also understanding the setting, creatures, magic system, and politics involved may be important for understanding what's happening in this story. It is not a direct continuous story, and the main character in each book is news, but context is very important and you'll be missing out.(less)

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Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: year-2018, 4-star, lgbt, arc
Out of the three Tensorate novellas I have read, this one is definitely my favorite.

The set up of this novel is a bit different from the first two, expounding on the monster hunting story line established in The Red Threads of Fortune. This one, however, is set up mostly in the form of letters/transcriptions of diaries/official reports.

I feel as though this mode of storytelling is particularly well suited to Yang's writing style.

In the past two books, I've struggled a bit with feeling as thoug
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-shelf, fantasy
This novella goes the epistolary format in a big way. Very enjoyable to me! :)

This time we get a harried and *hat upon investigator who is given no support from her superiors. Big surprise, right? But she's still required to figure out what happened to the boneyard that is the focus of this novella. Experimentation, a half naga-raptor monster, and of course... TWINS are involved. :)

Maybe this series ought to be called the Twinsorate. :)

What we don't get in sheer description or straightforward p
JY Yang’s Tensorate novellas continue to impress with their variety in tone, their compelling and original exploration of non-binary characters, and their evocative envisioning of a highly original silkpunk universe. I haven’t read anything quite like them, which is so refreshing in and of itself. I will say that I would like to be a bit more emotionally wrapped up in what’s happening in these stories, but there’s more than enough intriguing material to keep me coming back for more.
The Descent of Monsters is the third novella in the silpunk fantasy series Tensorate. It does not follow the twins anymore, not directly, and it's told completely through letters, parts of diaries and reports.

I didn't like this novella as much as the first two books, for two main reasons: the format, and the main character.
One of the things I liked the most about the first two books was the atmosphere, especially the description of the setting. Because of the format, I didn't get many of them he
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This series is so brilliant. The Descent of Monsters is very different stylistically than the first two, both of which were very different from each other, but all three stories have been incredibly creative and well-written. This episode is told exclusively through written documentation of the investigation into a gruesome incident, which provides an interesting framing for the events and revelations that follow. I love epistolary novels, and it really works for this story - I especially liked ...more
I'm not sure how to describe this, especially without dropping any spoilers. (And partly because I'm writing this review two months after finishing the book ... things have been nuts and I'm ridiculously behind here.)

There's not exactly a main character. The story is told via letters, journal entries, and job reports from two people who at first don't appear to have anything in common. I really enjoyed wondering what was going on, and then slowly -- and chillingly -- figuring it all out. The pl
Allison Hurd
This was a neat addition to the series, but I don't think it quite soared as I'd hoped.

CONTENT WARNINGS: (just a list of topics) animal cruelty, child cruelty, graphic depictions of death and rot, medical experimentation

Things to love:

-The writing. There were some beautiful lines in this novella that struck the mind like a bell.

-The idea of fate. I really loved how this book is about how every action we make, even with great power, can unsettle a rock that starts the avalanche that irrevocabl
Okay, that was ballsy. Which is probably the wrong word for a non-binary saga. Unless this is the 'man' in the threesome of the trilogy. Yang jettisons the deft characterisation, world-building, gender gymnastics and understated eroticism to date for ... a mash-up of Ender's Game and Alien. Effective and brutal, but I really miss the quiet wonder and beauty of the previous two. ...more
K.J. Charles
Aug 26, 2018 added it
Shelves: fantasy
Another cracking novella in the Asian-fantasy-rooted Tensorate world. These really are terrific; when will we get a novel expanding on it all? (she says greedily). This one is creepy, vivid, super immersive, and opens out the sinister world in a fascinating way while updating us on the MCs of the first books. Also, the covers are just absurdly good. Terrific.
Shaun Hutchinson
The format was a little more difficult to get into than the previous novellas, and made the story a little more impersonal, but it was still wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely.
If the first two novellas impressed me with their vivid and lush descriptions and the fascinating world, this book goes into a whole other direction I wasn’t expecting and left me all kinds of horrified.

This novella is mainly told in the epistolary format, including lots of reports, transcripts, diary entries and letters. Because this wasn’t always straightforward and the story involved finding out the truth about what happened at the institute, there is an air of mystery about and I liked the
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite Tensorate novella so far: the prose is smoother and more elegant than in the previous installments, the plot tight, and, most importantly, Yang skillfully pulled off a challenging narrative structure of scattered fragments and documents. It's just so good and bold and chilling. ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, 2020
Buddy read with Daisy

Going into this book, I thought I wanted more Mokoya & Akeha - but Yang had other plans - and I'm not even bothered.

As always, Yang writes about gender and love so wonderfully. Everything feels real, nothing feels heavy handed. It was very cool to see them do something very different with this novella. This story is told entirely through letters/reports/etc. It's weird, an entire two pages was REDACTED - and I loved it all. It worked perfectly because the novella length w
Actual review: 2.75

“This is my truth, my record of everything that’s about to happen.”

The Descent of Monsters is the third book in the Tensorate series, and it is currently my least favourite story.


I’m a huge fan of the writing style in this book. Although I’ve read it previously in the science fiction genre, The Themis Files and The Illuminae Files were very interesting mostly due to the written format.

On one hand, the format suited Yang’s writing. One of my main
Gail (The Knight Reader)
Yang flexes their creativity some more in this third installment and it works perfectly. It is my favorite novella of the three I’ve read, asking its readers some hard hitting questions like who are the monsters here? Layers are added to old characters but like the Slack itself, nothing is ever quite clear. I love these gaps and the way Yang forces me to use my mind. I am here mulling possibilities and realities I hadn’t considered. I am excited for novella 4 🐉
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favourite Tensorate novella - while I liked the conceit of telling the story through investigative notes, correspondence and diary entries, I found they kept me at arm's length, reducing the tension. I love this world and this story is intriguing, but I found I wanted more context for our Investigator (we see her become a rebel, but never understand why she was an Investigator, or how a Tensor ended up married to a pirate!)

Full review to follow.
"This is not some misbegotten love letter or ode to a life unlived. As if I’d write that kind of horseshit. Fuck that.
This is a call to arms."

TW: misgendering, gore

Unpopular Opinion Time 🐸☕️

Actual rating: 2.5 ⭐️

So, this was unexpected.

I’ve been binging this series on audio for three days straight now, and after a great and promising start and a somewhat average (but always promising) second installment, I was expecting something more from The Descent of Monsters.
Instead, here I am: bitter and
Perhaps my least favourite in the series. Not a fan of the letter/report format either, not with this kind of story and worldbuilding. There’s something limiting in having one character recounting only things she/he/they witness. You can’t help but feel there’s something you’re missing or not fully experiencing. Plus, the ending was a bit predictable in an every-rebellion-needs-its-martyrs kind of way, and the new main character was one-dimensional.

I am quite sad that I cannot rate this higher.
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really devastated me. It opens with a letter written by the main character to her wife, only to be read on her death - so I guess I should have been prepared. It’s told through letters and reports - I’ve always liked this sort of epistolary novel and I think it works well. This is the 3rd in the Tensorate series and I don’t think it’s very standalone.

It’s the story of investigator Chuwan and her inquiry into something terrible that happened in a remote research facility. Chuwan is a g
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, queer
4 solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This entry proved a slightly trickier read because of its structure. The Descent of Monsters is entirely composed of letters, investigative reports, and journal entries. Yang placed two letters which form the heart of the story at the beginning. The rest are arranged somewhat out of order and the keen reader, with Yang's helpful cues, will piece the different puzzle pieces together.

Beyond the pleasure of working out the puzzle the form represented, to me, how the series has operated
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was amazing, I liked the first two novellas a lot, the second even more, but THIS ONE topped them in a way I wasn't even expecting.
Though they're a whole, a series, and I wouldn't have enjoyed this one without the worldbuilding being set in the previous ones and the background characters present here.
I love how JY Yang managed to change things up in this third instalment with the format of letters, reports and journal entries.
I also LOVE Chuwan and can't wait for everyone to m
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

All of these novellas are so lovely and SO different from each other. It’s awesome.

My only confusion was Akeha’s pronouns- I was sure they were a “He” in previous books? Either I misinterpreted the first 2 or I missed a change, So clearly I need to reread them.
Siona St Mark
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Didn’t particularly care for this one as much as the previous two volumes in the series. The epistolary format didn’t really work for me, it took me out of the story. Hopefully the final book will be in the same style as the first two because I really really enjoyed them.
Dawn C
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-kindle
Oh this was brilliant and so engaging. I have to praise Yang for keeping the Tensorate stories fresh with new perspectives, as this time we follow the investigation into a tragic event that happened at a research facility through a variety of reports and personal letters. It brings something new to the stories and work really well as a means to tell us more about the characters connected to Akeha, Mokoya, Rider, and the others we’ve met. I can’t wait for the fourth book now!

Eta: Yang confirmed t
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly executed storytelling. The third book in the series is very different from the second which is very different from the first, but this, like the previous volumes, introduces new characters and advances the overall plot in a compelling way. The world that Yang creates becomes even more intricate and real. I can’t wait to see where she takes the fourth book.
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Still in awe of this world building. Loved the narrative structure in records and correspondence, which reminded me of World War Z. I wish there was more of the Sanao twins, but I loved the snarky Sariman and an expansion of Rider's history, who I thought wasn't done nearly enough justice when they were introduced in the last book. Cannot wait to read the next one. ...more
Corey White
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Took me a little while to get into the story because of the Found Materials format, but once I got past that it was a brilliant read. Expertly woven together, and expands the scope of the world even further. Can't wait for book 4! ...more
Jackie Guy
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
SQUEEEEEEEEEEE THIS IS SO COOOLLLLLLLLLLL AND *clenches fist* I love these characters. My favorite in the series so far...
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Actual rating: 3.75
Psyche Ready
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've dearly loved each book in this series, but this was the most exciting, action-packed, and compelling of all three. I strongly recommend all of them to those who love fantasy and science fiction, and characters with mysterious, magical gifts for manipulating reality.

The third book is different from the first two primarily in that it's like an X-Files narrative: spooky terrible things have happened underground, and it is up to a gang of resourceful misfits to use their strange gifts to find T
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Neon Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, The Descent of Monsters and The Ascent to Godhood). Their work has been shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Lambda Literary and Locus awards, while the Tensorate novellas were a Tiptree honoree in 2018. They have over two dozen works of short fict ...more

Other books in the series

Tensorate (5 books)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)
  • The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)
  • The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate, #4)
  • The Tensorate Series

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