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Monstrous Heart

(The Monstrous Heart Trilogy #1)

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  116 reviews
A sensational debut novel perfect for fans of Outlander and The Binding. This is gothic, epic, romantic fantasy at it’s 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
Published April 2nd 2020 by Harper Collins
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Claire H Esmerralda, it's a planned trilogy so the sequels are due in April 2021 and April 2022. Its September 2020 as I write this, which means I've finishe…moreH Esmerralda, it's a planned trilogy so the sequels are due in April 2021 and April 2022. Its September 2020 as I write this, which means I've finished Book 2 and I'm working on Book 3 now...
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Average rating 3.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  315 ratings  ·  116 reviews

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Start your review of Monstrous Heart (The Monstrous Heart Trilogy, #1)
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 mur ...more
Eimhear (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 wor
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 sub
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

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

CWs: sexual assault

Galley provided by publisher

This book had potential, but that is possibly the sole positive thing I can bring myself to say about it. The synopsis sounds promising but it ends up becoming yet another fantasy world replete with misogyny and rape culture.

It would be fair to say I knew this wasn’t the book for me within the first couple of pages, so I’ll get this point out of the
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I didn’t really understand what was going on with this story. The writing was very flowery but I didn’t really know what was being said! The world building was insufficient and the main character was annoying. The blurb for this book made the story sound very special but unfortunately this book wasn’t for me. Many thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
Bex (Beckie Bookworm)
DNF 20%
Well, this was a major disappointment.
I knew almost instantly that I wasn't going to gel with this book and its a shame as the blurb itself held such promise.
The writing here was full of flowery prose and just felt really pretentious like it was trying to showcase its higher intelligence but instead actually managed to turn me off so completely.
I read for enjoyment and sadly this was just too much like hard work, in fact, it was a complete and utter slog.
I didn't have a bloody clue what i
Apr 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don't know how to describe this book as it made no sense. From the first pages you are thrown into a fantasy world with its own creatures, governance, hierarchy, traditions and language and offered no explanation for how and why this world operates in the way it does. I have no problem with books that respect the intelligence of the reader and allows them to piece things together themselves but this book doesn't even give you enough information to do that. The plot had more holes in it than sw ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Want to see more...


Though I am not a fan of romance stories, this one was pretty good. The character's were really interesting and the plot was believable
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
I appear to be in the minority but I rather loved this gothic romantic historical-feel fantasy. There are lighthouses lit by magical flames, prehistoric sea creatures still populating the oceans, mysterious islands that aren't featured on any known maps and a secret eugenics society policing family bloodlines and magical aptitudes.

It had a lovely melancholic Bronte vibe going on, but I can see why it hasn't appealed to some. It is a little over-written in places, slightly flowery perhaps, altho
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Harper Collins UK and NetGalley*

Tending to lighthouses runs in Arden Beacon's family because of the family gift. With her own power a weak one, Arden isn't planning on staying at the lighthouse in the small seaside town of Vigil for long.
Life in Vigil is very different to what Arden is used to - the sea is home to gigantic sea monsters and the town is full of secrets and whispers of Arden's new neighbour, who supposedly
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 p
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
I was really looking forward to this but unfortunately it fell flat despite some great writing, there wasn’t a great deal of world building and what there was didn’t work well. The characters were not well developed and felt one dimensional. I’m 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
Jess (PassportsandPaperbacks)
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
As per usual, a few content warnings to start: Attempted rape, sexual assault, discussion of rape, manipulative/abusive characters, some ableist language.
Mild Spoilers Ahead

This book was...something. From the premise, it sounded intriguing and exciting. It was likened to The Binding and described as a gothic love story, all of which I loved the sound of. However, I felt this story fell flat.
Judith Huang
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don't usually read romance at all, and maybe that's why I particularly enjoyed this one.
I loved the brooding atmosphere of the world and especially the sea creatures, sea battles, pirates and that the fantasy was not-quite-high-fantasy. The romance was beat by beat (except the end) and pretty predictable but I still liked it and kept reading. I actually really loved Arden, the MC and Riven, her love interest, as characters. Riven definitely seemed like a mash up of Mr Rochester and Heathcliff.
Surbhi Das
I had to have this book after reading the blurb which said "this was perfect for the fans of Outlander". However, I was massively let down by this book. Cutting to the chase, this was incomprehensible. I didn't have any idea what was going on and it didn't help that I couldn't connect with any of the characters. The writing was beautiful at times but like I said, what good is a beautiful writing if the story doesn't make sense??

ARC received via Netgalley, in exchange of my honest opinion!
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A full review coming soon but this book was everything I wanted in a book!! I loved it!!
Mridula Gupta
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, fantasy
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 didn’t live up to what I was hoping for but perhaps that’s just me.
I did finish the book even though at times I almost gave up on it I hope others will
I think this could have been a great story, as I like the setting, the sea creatures and the magic, but the way this is written was just not for me. Also the chapter titles repeating the first sentence just annoyed me. Not sure if I'm going to read the sequel. ...more
Steph Warren
May 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, Harper Collins UK and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

I wanted to love this book, so much. I adored Deeplight (Frances Hardinge) and looking at the cover and blurb – pirates! sea monsters! – I had high hopes for a similarly immersive tale. Unfortunately, I found it virtually impossible to fall in love with Monstrous Heart… I don’t feel we got past the first date.

The main issue was with the lack of cohe
Janna G. Noelle
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
Arden Beacon, from the city of Clay Portside, Lyonne, is a sanguis ignis—a practitioner of blood magic whose power involves creating fire light that's used to illuminate lighthouses. Despite coming from a long, illustrious lineage of similarly gifted Beacons, her powers are quite weak. This has prevented both her membership to the Seamaster's Guild and her ability to get married since the sanguine genealogies are strictly controlled by the Lyonnian Order's Eugenics Society. This is to ensure the ...more
Hannah Snell
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
I like a gothic novel. I've loved reading novels like Wakenhyrst, Melmoth and The Binding to name a few recent ones. I also love a classic gothic romance - mystery ex-wife, Jane Eyre/Rebecca vibes? Yes please. Fantasy magic systems based on blood? Sure. I just didn't expect this book to try to do all of those things, whilst not managing to follow through on all of these ideas well.

Now, this was an oddly tricky one to read. The story was a little all over the place, and there were considerable in
My thanks to HarperCollins HarperVoyager for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Monstrous Heart’ by Claire McKenna in exchange for an honest review.

I quickly fell in love with this Gothic fantasy that is set in a world where the seas contain monsters, including kraken and plesiosaurs. As it was already published when I began reading, I bought its ebook and audiobook combination for an immersive experience.

Arden Beacon arrives at the port of Vigil as its new lightmistress tasked with using the magic in h
Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

This was, unfortunately, quite a confusing novel when it came to worldbuilding. There's no explanation of countries, the world, or the layout of anything, and it took me over ten percent into it, to figure out the name of the world was Fiction only to then realize I misunderstood the use of Fiction as a world and that it was a country, opposite of one of Lyonne but there was also a Manhattan and talks of Genghis Khan and Christianity. Then there were cars and even sedans but there were phon
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully told story that built a really interesting, new world with fantastical creatures and blood magic. I did feel a bit lost for about the first half of the book, as I worked out how things worked in this new society. Ordinarily, this wouldn't have bothered me, but so much depends on the way in which this society functions - the expectations of those with magic in their blood, and the restrictions that these expectations bring. I persevered and I'm glad that I did, because once ...more
Emily Lissek
I was hoping to get an elder god/cthulhu sort of vibe from this story, but I found it to have more twilight like vibes. The heroine is portrayed as strong and independent woman with rare magical gifts. She is very headstrong and assertive until she falls in love with her mysterious neighbour. I found the story turned from that point, and changed her into a more 'damsel in distress' type. It took a while for any sort of action to start and the type of magic in this books isn't very clearly explai ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
i read this on the recommendation of a friend who works in a book store and I'm glad I did

It was wild, funny, sad, tragic, raunchy so many different things. It was an amazing new magic system a harsh world where survival is not easy especially for women. It was just great
May 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

It took me quite a while to get into this book. I found the writing style quite cumbersome in places and the characters were a bit underdeveloped. However, the narrative (once it got going) is very unique and I didn't see some of the twists coming. An interesting start to what I assume will be a series.
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
will not continue series. very confusing
Sarah ('s Book Life)
Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna is intriguing Gothic fantasy, filled with magic, danger both on land and out at sea. It’s a debut novel classic Gothic literature such as Wuthering Heights, Northanger Abbey and The Bloody Chamber.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Rating: 3.5/5 🌟🌟🌟

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Page count: 400

Publication date: 31st March 2020

Trigger warnings: vio
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Claire McKenna is a SFF writer from Melbourne, Australia.

Other books in the series

The Monstrous Heart Trilogy (3 books)
  • Deepwater King (The Monstrous Heart Trilogy #2)
  • Untitled (The Monstrous Heart Trilogy #3)

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