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Monstrous Heart

2.87  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A sensational debut novel perfect for fans of Outlander and The Binding. This is gothic, epic, romantic fantasy at its very best; a tale of magic, intrigue on dangerous waters and a love story for the ages.

When Arden Beacon is sent to the lighthouse, she is simply a woman with a job to do. She neither seeks, nor expects, distraction. After years tainted by disappointment,
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: April 2nd 2020 by Harper Collins
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Average rating 2.87  · 
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 ·  39 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Claire McKennna's fantasy debut is indisputably beautifully written but her storytelling did not fly for me. It felt incomprehensible and opaque, and the romance and love at the heart of the novel fails to convince. Arden Beacon arrives at the small coastal town, to be the lightkeeper where there is darkness, a place battered by dangerous seas infested with ancient sea beasts. She has blood tinged with magic, and she is drawn to a local man, Jonathan Riven, feared by people, rumoured to be a ...more
Emer (A Little Haze)
The blurb for this book really flatters to deceive...

It promises a gothic, epic, romantic fantasy on dangerous waters but really it turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib.

For the first 35% of the book I felt utterly lost. If this had not been an ARC from NetGalley I would have DNFd this for sure. It's not as if the story started with an info dump of sorts... In fact I wish it had as that would have been preferable. But instead it started in a manner that assumed the reader understood the
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, fiction, romance
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Given the exciting promise of sea monsters, this just didn't click with me unfortunately, and I think I can pinpoint a couple of reasons why. One is the world building, or lack of it. For most of the novel I was confused as to what was going on, as we're given only snippets of information about the magic and world. The writing doesn't help with this either, as it's difficult to get into - more flowery than anything else, with no
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
I was really looking forward to this but unfortunately it fell flat despite some great writing, there wasnt a great deal of world building and what there was didnt work well. The characters were not well developed and felt one dimensional. Im disappointed as I was hoping for so much more, the story was interesting and the writing style lovely but it was let down with the rest.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Why do pretty books have to turn out to be so disappointing? A premise I loved and expected so much from. Arden takes up the job of a lightkeeper in a town troubled by monsters. She meets Jonathan Riven, a man hated by the world and branded as a murderer and chemistry builds between them. In a world plagued by sea monsters, these two love birds have mysteries to unravel and secrets to discover, eventually leading them to Lion Order.

The book fell flat in a lot of aspects for me. The romance felt
Jan 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I am so disappointed as I really wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The writing was stunning but the story just did not capture me and I found it difficult to connect with the characters and felt my attention drifting throughout the book.
The premise of the story seemed so promising and I was excited to receive the ARC but it just didnt live up to what I was hoping for but perhaps thats just me.
I did finish the book even though at times I almost gave up on it I hope others will
c, (½ of readsrainbow)

Rep: lesbian side character, gay side character, gay side character with cerebral palsy

CWs: sexual assault
Dec 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Honestly Im not even entirely sure I want to give this book 3 stars. Im caught between 2-3, so for now well remain on 3. I was SO excited for this book. I couldnt WAIT to get my hands on it, and I was thrilled when I received an arc. Unfortunately, it didnt live up to the hype I singlehandedly gave it. This book was 400 pages and I spent every single one of them hoping it would get better. I almost DNFd it, but didnt in case it did have a turning point, but it didnt and I feel like I just wasted ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Arden has magic in her blood and when she moves to take over from her uncle in the lighthouse with only the mysterious seemingly evil Mr Riven as a neighbour this books hints at mystery from the start.
I found it confusing at times and quite hard to make sense of the scene being set at the beginning.
A good fantasy romance however I found it was not the easiest to follow and at times my interest did drift
Christine Kelly
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: march-2020
Thank you NetGalley & HarperCollins for the opportunity to read Monstrous Heart.

This book was described as a gothic, epic, romantic fantasy with monsters, magic & true love, but what it delivered was a confused middle that reduced this storm of a story to a damp shower!

Yes, there were monsters, definitely more of those were human rather than animal. There were plots, machinations & politics. The characters were large in number and for the first half of the book I found myself
Annette Jordan
A dark tale of magic and mystery , Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna was a book I dived into with high hopes for a gripping adventure and maybe even a hint of romance. The book dives straight into the story with little attempt to introduce the world or magic system, and while that caused a little confusion I was happy to roll with it, assuming that this would follow as I got further into the book, and it did but not to the extent I would have liked.
The book tells the story of Arden Beacon who
Amanda Evans
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This book is a difficult one to review. It was very hard to get into the story and I think that was due to the style of language used by the author. The writing was good but the old fashioned language took a long time to get used to. I have to admit, that by 45% I put the book down with no intention of finishing it, but there was something about the story that had me intrigued and I picked it up again the next day because I wanted to know what happened and about the mysterious Mr Riven ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This one isnt easy to review or describe - a fantastical, steam-punky version of Jane Eyre, it throws you in at the deep end without a live safer. There are no explanations, no gentle world building in back-flashes or gradual info dumps, no family trees or maps. You have to work out for yourself whats going on.
Up until a third in I wasnt sure if I loved it for its beautiful writing or hated it because it left so much hard work to the reader.
Half way in I was completely enchanted.
This really is
Corinne Sparks
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was hoping for a monster-boyfriend - instead it's more of a paranormal touched steam punk slash victorian world, that, whilst not what I was expecting, is still engaging and I finished it in one sitting.
Some bloodlines have power - much like the magic system of allomancy and feruchemy in Brandon Sandersons books - that let them harness an element or chemical. Arden is one such, her blood (supposedly) lights fires. This is the centrepoint of the makeup of the society - the people with blood
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Sadly I could not get into this book at all. It had such promise and the synopsis really had me intrigued but the overly complex magic system and the incredibly slow pace were not for me. I regularly found myself having to go back to re-read certain parts or just skipping over paragraphs due to the complicated language.

I DNFd at 25% (something I normally never do with an arc) as I could not force myself to continue any further.

Dont get me wrong its not all bad. If you love dark and atmospheric
Mar 22, 2020 is currently reading it
I initially struggled with this book - I found the writing unnecessarily flowery. From the beginning I guessed this was a Heathcliff (brooding and misunderstood male) and Cathy type romance, and I was not wrong.

I struggled to understand what, exactly, the magic was about within this book, as there was no explanation, and I wasnt much wiser by the end of the book.

As the book went on, it did improve and became a relatively enjoyable, if not predictable, read. It is this improvement that has
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This Monstrous Heart is a brutal story, and not for the squeamish! A gothic story about sea monsters, it does fairly well at creating a dark and eerie atmosphere.

However, I did find myself completely baffled by the magic system and much of the world. For parts, I wasn't quite sure what was going on and this hampered my enjoyment somewhat.

The characters were good though, and the romance at the centre of the story was believable, helping to make it a slightly more interesting read even in the
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it
The premise of this book is incredibly strong and it has a plot that keeps you hooked and reading to see what happens. All the hallmarks of a great novel.
Except something feels a little flat with it, The universe described within it needs to be more vivid so that the reader really feels part of it and can full immerse themselves within the story. But overall it's a good read.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Buckle up, nerds.

Ever wanted your Brontës with blood tithe magic, plesiosaurs, and sisters of sappho? LITERALLY LOOK NO FURTHER.

I first heard about this absolute arkenstone of a book at YALC 2019 and devoured the sampler in about 5 minutes. This was a fantasy world unlike anything I had read before. There were airships and automobiles that put me in mind of Philip Reeve's steampunk Mortal Engines quartet and the berserkers and motorball players of Alita: Battle Angel, yet its storm-wracked and
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Arden's blood contains a kind of magic, which can create light. She's from a family of lighthouse keepers, and her talents showed late, meaning they are weaker than expected and she doesn't expect to have her own lighthouse. Blood talents are carefully controlled by the Eugenics Society and the mysterious Order of Lyonnes, and it is a Lion who comes to Arden to offer her the lighthouse in Vigil, until recently covered by her uncle. The lighthouse is out on a promontory, most easily accessed by ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although I was initially confused at the start of Monstrous Heart I eventually grew to love it. My issue was that the information about the blood talents was presented in a way that suggested the reader should understand it. It was explained slowly throughout the story but I think it could do with a little concise history as a prologue.

I will definitely read the rest in the series as I am desperate to find out what happens next with Arden, Chalice, Bella and Jonah. For me the sex scenes could be
Amy Twigg
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I still don't know how I feel about this book. The premise is right up my alley, and as I adored The Binding, I thought it would be a no-brainer. However, I found the characters rather one dimensional and cliched, which made it hard work turning the pages.

Despite this, McKenna writes with authority. Her language is well crafted, if a little flowery; ultimately, I think if the book had had more time to prove, the issues I have with it would probably be rectified.

Thank you to NetGalley and
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lydia Timpson
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Poetic, deep and full of ominous foreshadowing.
Although this book was a lot different from the usual fantasy it had a bit of 'beauty and the beast' retelling about it, only set in a steampunk-ish alternate reality. It was heavy going and bit slow but dealt with racism, sexism and domestic violence in a fantasy setting which was unique and comelling.
I would recommend it to people who want a darker side to their fairytales.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, adult
I liked this book a lot. I get the feeling it's one of those stories that will divide readers but there was something so magical in the writing that I couldn't help but be drawn in. It's not perfect but there's definitely something very compelling about it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review.
Amy Garrett-Williams
rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2019
rated it it was ok
Sep 06, 2019
Ruth Brookes
rated it liked it
Feb 17, 2020
Simon Fennex
rated it did not like it
Mar 24, 2020
Brianna Benton
rated it liked it
Dec 21, 2019
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Claire McKenna is a SFF writer from Melbourne, Australia.

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