Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Monster Who Wasn't” as Want to Read:
The Monster Who Wasn't
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Monster Who Wasn't

(Monster Who Wasn't Trilogy #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  61 reviews
A brilliantly rich and strange fantasy adventure that will make us all believe in monsters – be they good, bad or somewhere in between.

It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters come into being …

This is the story of a creature who is both strange and unique. When he hatches down in the vast underg
Paperback, 271 pages
Published August 8th 2019 by Bloomsbury
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Monster Who Wasn't, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
The Bookish Faerie In my opinion, yes. One thing about this book is that it is quite graphic in words about violence. It is not a book for children who want to overcome …moreIn my opinion, yes. One thing about this book is that it is quite graphic in words about violence. It is not a book for children who want to overcome their fears of monsters but rather for kids who are daring to explore the uncharted, formless world of monsters.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  233 ratings  ·  61 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Monster Who Wasn't
Belles Middle Grade Library
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this! It took me a minute to get into it, but I think that had more to do w/what was going on w/my pup at the exact time that I picked this up. This was such a beautiful story. It was so unique in its details, the backstory, & just the whole story of Sam. There’s a big message on family, belonging, & just ones identity. Also, the power souls have. And how many humans waste theirs. There are different “species” of monsters, & they are all described in such vivid detail. Sam is tr ...more
Ritika Chhabra
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews.

"It is a well-known fact that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. What is not as well documented is how monsters came into being."

The opening lines of Shelley's The Monster Who Wasn't are, without a doubt, few of the best opening lines I've read till date. They captured me instantly and I was eager to find out more about this strange world Shelley intends to take us, all the while wondering about this monster who wasn't. What was he not?
Mary Rees
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this extraordinary story, full of wonderful characters, rich description and powerful messages relating to identity, familial bonds and belonging. It wholeheartedly captured my imagination as it took me on a riveting rollercoaster of fast-paced action through a series of tantalising twists and turns which astounded and delighted me.
Deep down in The Hole, a monster has been hatched by the Ogre King, formed from the last regretful sigh of a dying man, and the first gurgling lau
Britt Meter
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was hesitant when I bought the book because it was for a kid ( or middle aged kid) but I was glad that I've read and finished the book. It was about an Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters,and gargoyles adopted Imp as their own but as the story kept going it was really well written. I really liked the angel Daniel who taught the Imp about everything about human emotion to vocabulary and their meaning. I really liked the imagination and the creativity in this book also- bu ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was intrigued by the blurb, hoping for a children's story á la Kate DiCamillo with good imagery and a philisophical subtext... however, there seemed to be very little subtext in it, it was just a children's story, not very amusing for adults. (Though the premise is still cute) That by itself is not terrible, but on top of that i found her writing style and descriptions very confusing, i found myself constantly drifting away and even unsure of what was happening and where the characters were
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
I loved the concept and it begun so beautifully. Fairies are created from the first laugh of a baby, while monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Entertaining up until (view spoiler) and I found that distressing for a middle grade novel. If you have a child with a fear of monsters, this won't help t ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is such a fun, heart-warming, hilarious read. I loved all the characters and how much imagination was woven through the story. I now wish I had a bunch of chocolate-loving gargoyles to hang out with too!
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The whole concept of a monster who wasn’t truly monstrous is so poignant.
Are we the circumstances of our birth? Can we change our destiny? Can we become something different?

The idea that monsters are born from a person’s last sigh is like an arrow to the heart! It makes us consider what kind of “monster” our life will create when the chill winds of eternity blow away our birthdays. How we live our lives really does affect and impact those around us.
Really well developed characters and themes,
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this - gargoyles with hearts, an ogre king, an angel, a peace dove and a special monster.
Sure, it wasn't perfect and I did pick up one minor editing error (The imp's name was used before he had decided on his name) but they are minor quibbles when I think about the emotions I felt when reading this story.
A wonderful fairy tale for all ages.
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A wonderfully heartwarming story about family and belonging, with a lot of monsters thrown in. As well as a main character you just want to hug, three equally adorable and hilarious gargoyles (how can you not love three gargoyles of varying degrees of cantankerousness, who love chocolate and know what the film Alien is?) and a kind-hearted angel. Looking forward to and very interested in seeing where the story goes next!
Zoe James-williams
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Imp who looks human is born into an underworld of monsters. Some grumpy yet adorable gargoyles adopt him because he can steal chocolate without being noticed. Can Imp find his place in the world or will the King of Ogres use him for his evil plan? A wonderfully Gothic fantasy full of good and bad monsters which will enthrall children. I especially loved Imp's hilarious adopted family. Spiderwick Chronicles meets Labyrinth. ...more
Rhian Pritchard
It’s a really sweet idea, but sadly not very well written.
Kate (pooxs_insta)
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Took a while to get into, but an enjoyable and heartwarming read
The Bookish Faerie
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
The first thing that caught my eye about this book is the concept that monsters are born from a human's last sigh. Depending on the heaviness of deed from that sigh, the type of monster will be born. As most of us know from Tinkerbell, fairies are born from a baby's first laugh. Well, what happens if the last sigh and the first laugh is combined into one?

We explore that notion in The Monster Who Wasn't. "Imp" as they call him at the beginning of the book is a monster that looks, smells, and fee
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first in a new adventure trilogy, readers of fantasy will adore this book. “Imp” is a creature born in the underworld but with a foot in each world. He looks like a human child with a courageous heart and soul but he has been brought to life by the Ogre King, ‘King Thunderguts’, as a tool of evil and he must choose his own path in life. There is a rich tradition of Celtic mythology style monsters in this book and our hero encounters ogres, pixies, boggarts and banshees in his quest to learn ...more
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
Fun. Good worldbuilding. Felt a bit too much on the religious side for me?

The gargoyles were fantastic.
Sharon Giltrow
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I chose this book to read aloud to my 10 year old son and we loved it! The premise of a creature born from a person's last sigh and a baby's first laugh is magical and unique. We loved reading about Sam's struggle to understand what he is, where he fits in and what love is. The climax of the story had us reading until we had finished the book. The characters in the story are unique and lovable. A great book for middle grade children to read. ...more
A young imp is born from the combination of a last sigh and a baby's first laugh. His creation makes him unique and with the addition of a human soul, he becomes a valuable commodity in the ogre king's fight to return to hunting humans. After fleeing the underworld, the imp, who comes to call himself Samuel, joins up with some gargoyles and takes up residence on top of an old church. Since he looks human, Sam is sent by the gargoyles to obtain chocolate where he meets the family of the baby and ...more
Giselle Delsol
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Monster who Wasn’t isn’t your average children’s book, it’s a gem. Like the protagonist, this book is a little jewel you’ll want to keep. It’s a tale that needs to be read, and reread.

Created by the combination of a man’s last sigh and a baby’s laugh, a human-looking imp hatches under the impetus of an ogre king’s breath. While born with some knowledge, the imp boy’s experiences quickly increase his vocabulary and his understanding of the world. An understanding that must operate quickly, as
Christina Reid
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
The opening line is fantastic and I was hooked by the concept. I loved all the different magical creatures, especially the Gargoyles. Discovering the world through Sam's eyes is fascinating but, unfortunately at times very confusing because he doesn't understand what is happening a lot of the time meaning the reader might get confused too. There also seemed to be not internal logic as to when he remembered something and when he knew nothing.
An interesting idea, with a lot to recommend it for any
Kyle Dougherty
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you're following a protagonist who was literally born yesterday, you know you're in for a different kind of story. With a mythology that borrows and blends elements from English folklore to C.S. Lewis to Lewis Carroll (not to mention the clever little device of its own main premise), a plot that drops you straight into the action and whips you through its three day span, characters that leap off the page and visual descriptions just begging to be adapted into a film, this is a fantastic rea ...more
Elena Paige
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked it. Great characters and an awesome finale!
Hastha Chand
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Title: The Monster Who Wasn't

Author: T.C. Shelley

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication: 19 Sep 2019

Genre: Fantasy

My Take:

"The Monster Who Wasn't" is a beautifully written story of family bond and belonging. I liked the concept behind how monsters come into a being. It was something I never heard or came across. I don't remember the last time I loved the characters of a book unanimously. Be it Daniel, Sam (the imp boy), the adorable gargoyles or the Kavanaghs I loved each one of them.

The way Daniel t
 Ananya thefoodandbooklife
The book hooked me in right from the beginning. The technicalities of the birth of a monster had enough of realism mixed with the fantasy aspect to feel like its something that could possibly happen. I wasn't sure if I liked the protagonist in the beginning but as the story progressed I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. He is sweet, loving and innocent and all his decisions are based on what his heart tells is right.
As soon as the Gargoyles came into the story, I fell in love with them. I a
Siobhan  Gavin
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dimity Powell
Jun 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-lit
Most of us have believed in monsters at some point in our lives, whether metaphorically or from when we believed they dwelt underneath our beds and behind our bedroom doors. This extraordinary middle grade fiction not only reignites the notion that we coexist with all manner of devilish beasts, it bravely intimates that not all of them are bad. Could there be some that fall somewhere in between good and bad? Is it possible to love a monster?

Sam hatches one fateful night in the vast underground
WhatBookNext .com
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Have you ever heard that fairies are born from a baby's first laugh? Monsters however, come from a last dying sigh of

Imp is a monster - formed by both of those things, looking like a twelve-year-old boy, but filled with monster thoughts and wishes by the breath of the King of Monsters. This king has plans for Imp. Big plans. Plans that will threaten life for all humans. Imp doesn't know this as he is whisked away by gargoyles from The Hole (a pit deep underground where, pixies, bogarts,
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of a boy who is desperately seeking a place to call home, a place where he belongs. Sam is made out of a laugh and a sigh so he is half monster and half angel but can also be easily passed as human. This is his journey as he finds out about his identity, worth and hopefully tumbling down the bad guys along the adventure.

The first few chapters were confusing because so many things were happening all at once. I couldn't even pinpoint which pov it was coming from. But then slowly
Zainab Fatima
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
❝𝓘𝓽'𝓼 𝓪 𝔀𝓮𝓵𝓵-𝓴𝓷𝓸𝔀𝓷 𝓯𝓪𝓬𝓽 𝓽𝓱𝓪𝓽 𝓯𝓪𝓲𝓻𝓲𝓮𝓼 𝓪𝓻𝓮 𝓫𝓸𝓻𝓷 𝓯𝓻𝓸𝓶 𝓫𝓪𝓫𝓲𝓮𝓼' 𝓯𝓲𝓻𝓼𝓽 𝓵𝓪𝓾𝓰𝓱. 𝓦𝓱𝓪𝓽 𝓲𝓼 𝓷𝓸𝓽 𝓪𝓼 𝔀𝓮𝓵𝓵 𝓭𝓸𝓬𝓾𝓶𝓮𝓷𝓽𝓮𝓭 𝓲𝓼 𝓱𝓸𝔀 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓶𝓸𝓷𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻 𝓬𝓸𝓶𝓮𝓼 𝓲𝓷𝓽𝓸 𝓫𝓮𝓲𝓷𝓰.❞
The book is based on the concept that monsters are born with the last sigh of humans. "The monsters Who Wasn't" is a story of a creature named 'Imp' who is strange, unique and born with both; the first laugh of baby and the last sigh of human. The gargoyles who adopted him and gave him his nickname just wanted him to steal chocolates for them. On the other
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Land of Roar
  • The Unadoptables
  • The House at the Edge of Magic
  • Wonderscape
  • The Castle of Tangled Magic
  • Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
  • Orphans of the Tide (Orphans of the Tide #1)
  • Return to Roar
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency (Strangeworlds Travel Agency #1)
  • Frostheart (Frostheart, #1)
  • The Good Thieves
  • The Time of Green Magic
  • The Highland Falcon Thief (Adventures on Trains, #1)
  • The Beast and the Bethany
  • Willow Moss & the Lost Day (Starfell, #1)
  • The Wild Path
  • Tinsel (The Girls Who Invented Christmas)
  • The Clockwork Crow (The Clockwork Crow, #1)
See similar books…
T.C. Shelley studied Creative Writing and Literature at University. She has been teaching English for over twenty years and her first school was classified as the most remote in Australia. She loves an audience and long before she took up teaching was writing and performing her poetry and short stories.

Shelley began writing novels to entertain her daughter, who wisely suggested that she try to ge

Other books in the series

Monster Who Wasn't Trilogy (2 books)
  • The Werewolves Who Weren't

Related Articles

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
45 likes · 65 comments
“an' when angels want to breed, they lay eggs in human guts which grow until they burst through their chests, and the baby angel claws its way out.'

'That's aliens,' Wheedle said.

'You sure?'

'It's your favourite movie.'

'Angels. Aliens. Easy mistake,' Bladder said.”
More quotes…