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The Monster of Elendhaven

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  119 ratings  ·  60 reviews
“A black tide of perversity, violence, and lush writing. I loved it.” —Joe Hill

Debut author Jennifer Giesbrecht paints a darkly compelling fantasy of revenge in The Monster of Elendhaven, a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who love both.

The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of indust
Hardcover, 160 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2019 by
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  119 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars*

This was dark, thrilling & weird (in the best way). I adored the writing and reading about these complex and interesting characters. This is definitely the perfect quick halloween read!

Thank you Tor for providing me with an ARC!
Chelsea Humphrey
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Publishing
"Power was sweeter than apples. It was cheaper than water, and sustained the soul twice as well. If Johann was going to be a Thing with a name, then from now on he would be a Thing with power, too."

I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting when I picked up The Monster of Elendhaven, but it wasn't that, and I mean that in the very highest form of compliment. I have a love/hate relationship with novellas, in the sense that I love to hate them, because I always feel like I was cheated out of a full
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
ARC provided by the publisher——in exchange for an honest review.

This starts out promising but overall it's really just not for me.

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht is a debut that I’ve heard great things about. It’s been advertised as a compelling dark fantasy about revenge, murder, and magician. For what its worth, it did started out that way; strongly atmospheric and dark. However, once the romance started, I found that the twisted relationship and unrealistic progression
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

💉 Look how beautiful is the cover! I asked the publisher for a copy and being the awesome people they are, they immediately provided it!

💉 I have seen many positive reviews for this book and that makes me feel less guilty, I like to support new authors, I can’t sugarcoat this because I really did not understand it.

💉 The beginning was good and I thought I know why people liked it and then things started happening and I d
Jan 08, 2019 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts
'a dark fantasy about murder, a monster, and the magician who loves both'
Nenia ✨ Literary Garbage Can ✨ Campbell
Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for each other.

In other words:

Julie Zantopoulos
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019, arc
What a freaking ride. This was a quick read but it packed a serious lunch. I was provided this arc by TOR and I’m so thankful it made its way to me. This novella is graphic in its violence and unapologetic in its gore but it’s also hauntingly beautiful in its writing style. It is twisted and grotesque in a way you can’t look away from and I really enjoyed it. This is a fantasy world with magic and mages but also very real human motivators like revenge and lust. This falls short of being an eroti ...more
Lily ☁️
me: I won’t let myself get sidetracked by shiny ARCs from publishers anymore, I’m going to stick to my TBR.

also me: Let me just sneak a little peek …

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Jan 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: adult
Look at that cover!

Quoting's twitter, this book should feature:

"- High Quality Sociopath Love
- Gratuitous Violence
- Gratuitous Corpses
- Comedy With Approximately As Much Levity As The Depths of the Ocean
- Not Technically Necrophilia
- Technically A Love Story"

...I want to read this now? Also, I've heard it's gay.
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
Hundreds of years ago, the North Pole was cut open with searing magic, a horrific event that left the land with craters like the city of Elendhaven was in. For centuries, the black waters were poisoned with an arcane toxin that causes the skin to bubble and the mind go soggy.

Meet Johann, the Monster of Elendhaven.

This book might as well be dripping with oil and slime. Glued together with brick and mortar and smell like factory smoke and grime because this setting is VIVID AS FORK.

We mostly have
Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
I DNFd this at around 40 pages. It started off SO GOOD, like deliciously dark and twisted and some of the most juicy writing ever and then came a plot development that made all the darkness slide off onto the back burner and instead, this turned into something dry and boring. I was bored. I might pick this up again at some point, maybe it’s me?
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing


The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion for each other. Bu
"The Monster of Elendhaven is a dark fantasy, a twisted tale of revenge set in an original world as oily and real as Jack the Ripper’s London. After a thing with no name washes up on the docks, empty, alone, and unable to die, he becomes obsessed with a frail young man who can twist minds with magic. Together, they launch a plan so dark and cruel that readers will find themselves cheering for blood, and for these avengers to consummate their horrible passion fo
Alex Zagorac
Jan 10, 2019 marked it as to-read
Giesbrecht is my mom's maiden name so I'm just gonna go ahead and pretend that this awesome sounding book was written by a relative!
Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

First and foremost, the author did an amazing job building up the storyline that focused on Florian and Johann sick and twisted relationship that hit the odd and quite romantic venture in this horror and fantasy novel. At first I wasn't sure where this read was heading to but due to the easy writing style and the author's ability to create a unique concept and verse group of leading characters, it was not hard to become immersed in our lead monsters fantasy world. I would notate that despi
J.A. Ironside
Many thanks to for sending me a hardcopy arc :)

This is a quick read - I got through this novella in a single sitting - but its no less impactful for that. A huge amount of story is carefully folded into this delicately wrought story, filled with dark pockets containing darker gems.

Johann grows up on the streets of Elendhaven, discovering he has a few unusual talents - one of which is performing actions of ruthless, calculated violence. Florian was born to one of the dying city's great f
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Monster of Elendhaven is the upcoming debut novella from Jennifer Giesbrecht, and, boy, it’s a doozie. It is mostly the story of Johann, who washes up on the poisonous black shores of Elendhaven, a foul, little city in the Nord. He is taken in, literally and figuratively, by a fragile little accountant, Herr Leikenbloom, the last of a historic family destroyed by plague, who is both more and less than he seems. When an ambassador from the south comes to Elendhaven with a female companion and ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, horror
Brilliant debut novel! The story is part character revelation, part revenge drama, and part horror freak show. Giesbrecht strikes the perfect balance between nasty ambiguity and detailed gore. While Johann and Florian dance around each other as master and servant - flinching back and forth locked in a game of awkwardness and pain.

Florian's grease paint facade continually smeared by Johann's brutality, kisses upon skin and heels dug between vertebra. Their romance is disturbing, yet deeply perso
Marija (Inside My Library Mind)
More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind

"For the true sons and daughters of Elendhaven, our mother is the sea and our sister is the winter."

When I got this one alongside my requested ARC of Gideon the Ninth, I had no idea what to expect.
But I really enjoyed this one, and it completely took me by surprise. This is a dark Fantasy novel, set in a town that's reminiscent of the small towns of the industrial era in Germany and it follows two men - one who is the monster of the town
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book from Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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.

Monster was the best, his favourite word. The first syllable formed a kiss, the second was a hiss.

Florian Leickenbloom is the last surviving member of the family that bui
Jan 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
Book: monsters, murder, magic, other cool things beginning with M.
Me: hello yes please when can I read this.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
*bring me to life muffled by the sounds of the sea's cold embrace*
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a short, nasty little book. It made me think of Suskind's Perfume. Longer RTC. 3.5 stars rounded up.

Merged review:

The Monster of Elendhaven follows two characters – Johann, the eponymous monster, and Florian, a mage that ultimately forces him to do his bidding. Mages are forbidden to exist in Elendhaven, and the locals in power kill Florian’s family, so Florian is out for revenge. And he’ll use Johann to ensure he gets it.

It’s rare that I wish a book was longer, but that’s definitely the ca
Grotesquely funny and weirdly endearing, a hip cousin of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast and Edgar Allan Poe. It's nice to see dark fantasy that can be dark without being grim.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was so DARK and creepy and monstrous. I was pretty hooked on the story, and I wanted to see what would happen and how it would end, but I'm not entirely sure what the last chapter was about? I can't quite figure out who it is. Anyway, yeah. I liked this, but I didn't love it.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Jan 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
this sounds like everything i ever needed??
Dana Aprigliano
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think I just like everything Tor & publish. It's chill.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A sinister, blood-soaked story steeped in myth and darkness.

Monster, Monster, Monster, Johann said to himself, the first half a kiss, the second a hiss.

I wanted to squeeze in one more review this month, so I decided to grab one of my September novellas in order to make that happen. And wow, what a great choice! The Monste
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, lgbt
Well in case you had any doubts, I'm here to tell you this is a dark book. At the same time though, I absolutely enjoyed it and I think the main reason for that is the dark and messed up relationship of Johann and Florian. I am a die-hard Buffy/Spike fan, and that dysfunctional relationship paved the way for me to love Johann/Florian. They are both terrible for each other, because of course they are, and yet I loved every minute of their time together. If Buffy had been evil, she would have been ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, 2019-lust
OUT 9/24/19! This was a brutal little book. It felt like a darker Tim Burton film. The lore was fascinating, the characters were dark and rich, it was gory and creepy, there was action and humor, and the setting was amazing! This book definitely isn't for everyone, but for those of us who like it dark and fantastical it's a whole lot of fun! It leaves readers with a lot to chew on, and while I felt Giesbrecht did a lot with the shorter page count, I wish I could have stayed with the story for a ...more
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