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Battalion of the Dead #2

Monstrous Design

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Following the thrills and spills of Dangerous Remedy, the Battalion of the Dead return in a dazzling new adventure, set amid the opulence and squalour of 18th-century London and Paris.

1794, London: Camille and Al are desperately hunting Olympe's kidnapper. From the glamorous excesses of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to the city's seedy underbelly, they are caught in a dangerous game of lies and deceit. And a terrible new enemy lies in wait with designs more monstrous than they could ever imagine... Can Camille play on to the end or will she be forced to show her hand?

In Paris, the Duc is playing his own dangerous games. With Ada in his thrall, old loyalties are thrown into question. The Battalion are torn apart as never before, and everything – Ada's love for Camille, her allegiance to the battalion itself – is under threat.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published June 10, 2021

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About the author

Kat Dunn

5 books181 followers
Kat Dunn is the author of BITTERTHORN (May 2023), and the Battalion of the Dead trilogy:

She grew up in London and has lived in Japan, Australia and France.

She has a BA in Japanese from SOAS and an MA in English from Warwick. She’s written about mental health for Mind and The Guardian, and worked as a translator for Japanese television.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,125 reviews817 followers
May 26, 2021
On my blog.

Rep: biracial (Black, white) lesbian mc, Black mc, bi mc, gay mc, side character with Parkinson's disease

CWs: past child abuse, gore

Galley provided by publisher

Monstrous Design, the sequel to Dangerous Remedy, is a book that’ll have you on the edge of your seat. The action starts on the first page and doesn’t let up to the last.

The story starts pretty much from where Dangerous Remedy ends. Camille and Al are following after James in England (James, who also gets his own POV in this one), while Ada and Guil are still in France, continuing with leads there.

I loved Dangerous Remedy last year, so Monstrous Design was, by far and away, one of my most anticipated releases for 2021. I went in, fully expecting to love it, and I did. Every part of the first book that I loved, I did so even more here.

Obviously, the characters were the best part. In this book, not only did you get James’s POV (which I did actually appreciate), but also you got more of Guil’s backstory, and Camille and Al bonding (you may not know you needed this, but you do). Pretty much everything got further fleshed out than in the first book (understandable, since this is a sequel and doesn’t need to spend page time establishing the world now).

For the same, sequel-ish, reasons, the plot moves a fair bit quicker. It’s not long before you’re into it all over again, and the 400-or-so pages pass by in a flash. The one comment I would make, though, is that sometimes it feels a little like too many POVs, and those slow the plot down. But in a kind of not hugely noticeable way. And definitely not in a way that impacted on my enjoyment.

So, if you’re looking for a series to get into, please please try this one. And then you can wait a whole year with me for the final book. It’ll be fun, I promise!
Profile Image for Althea.
422 reviews142 followers
June 26, 2021
After reading and loving the first book in this trilogy at the end of last year, I have been dying to read the sequel after the explosive ending we were left with, and I was not disappointed!

Monstrous Design starts pretty much where Dangerous Remedy left off, with Camille and Al heading to England to chase down James and Olympe, while Guil and Ada stay behind in Paris to keep an eye on the Duc. The first half of the book was, admittedly, extremely slow and I found myself trudging through it at times, and I think that it definitely suffered from second book syndrome at times, but the second half of the book was just so good and really brought me back to the exciting action that we saw in the first book! I also, once again, really enjoyed the vibes from this one - it really gave me Frankenstein meets Les Mis vibes and it was so, so atmospheric!

I can't really say much about this without giving any spoilers, but Monstrous Design does feature some of my all-time favourite tropes in it (as well as a great My Chemical Romance reference...no I'm not joking!), and I loved how morally grey and complex the characters were. But saying that, I do really wish that this series was told through Guil and Al's perspectives too, as the found family aspect fell a little flat since the two of them aren't really developed all that much. Though we do get to understand a bit more of Guil's past in this book, I really could not tell you all that much about him other than he deserted from the army, so I wish we'd got to read some chapters from his perspective too (and honestly, reading from Al's perspective would just be amazing!).

Overall, though, I'm really excited to see where the trilogy ends, though I know it'll be in pain, and I can't wait for the third book's release hopefully relatively soon!

Want more sapphic books? You can find me here: Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Gabriela Pop.
724 reviews157 followers
June 18, 2021
original review on my blog: https://gabbiesbookishthoughts.blogsp...

You may be able to tell that I had very high expectations for this novel as I had loved the first one and saw great potential for this, with the scope of the story broadening; not only are the characters separated from one another, their bonds tested in these unprecedented pairs, they must also learn who they themselves are when put into situations they hadn't anticipated, stripped from the group they had used to define themselves in the past.

Dunn did not disappoint in the slightest, sprinkling in some surprises along the way: the internal conflicts of the characters intensify under these circumstances, yet the stakes of the broader plot are not sacrificed for this. The overall effect then, is a palpable tension on multiple levels that keeps the reader wanting to turn the page on and on in order to find out what our favourite rascals are up to next (this is, I have to say, made even easier by the short and snappy chapters, which really help the pace of the story).

I think it's natural to be worried that at least one of the perspectives may feel stilted when faced with either new narrators or new settings, but Dunn made it so that it is easy to dive right into the book and allow it to carry you through without ever questioning it, which was proof of the author's skill. Dunn manages to write characters that may easily be dismissed as 'unlikeable' with such tenderness and care and heart that it is impossible not to find them endearing at the end of the day. All of these characters, ultimately, mess up in many ways, but always with the best interest at heart.

To my personal delight, Dunn also adds more heat to the elements that I love most: freaky science, political intrigue, bitter feminism and romantic Angst™ among others that you'll have to read for yourself to find out. There are few things that can take me by surprise while reading, but I found myself slightly aghast and utterly enthralled by the unexpected turn the story took quite a few times while reading this. Some key players in the grander conflicts at play are moving some bold moods, so I'm somehow even more excited once more to see where the next volume takes us and am itching to reread this already to fill the void it left behind.

Profile Image for Azrah.
231 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2021
**I was provided with an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

CW: violence, gun violence, gore, blood, murder, death, kidnapping, electrocution, animal cruelty, long term illness

Dangerous Remedy was one of my favourite debuts of 2020 so I was super excited for this sequel and it did not disappoint!

Monstrous Design jumps right back into the story with the same fast paced, high-stakes, page turning plot but this time the setting is split, with half the members of the Battalion of the Dead running around the streets of Georgian London searching for Olympe and the other half still in revolutionary Paris keeping an eye on the Duc. The story kicks off pretty much where book 1 ended and a little “story so far” section at the starts means you’re easily up to speed!

The storytelling is as beautifully immersive as expected – the Frankenstein vibes that were apparent in the first book are cranked up even more and I admire the historical detail within Dunn’s narration that so effortlessly transports you both in time and place through the alternating points of view.

Now this second book still has its action and twists but is definitely a lot more character focused. Along with Camille and Ada, James’ perspective has been added into the mix and through these three points of view we discover more about each of the characters and their backstories. I can’t commend Dunn’s writing enough in how she has developed and portrayed the emotions of these messy individuals.

Though I did miss the camaraderie that was present in book 1 with all of the characters together in one place as well as scenes where Camille and Ada were together, I loved that the spotlight was given to other relationships. Ada and Guil were such a wholesome team up (I particularly loved learning more about Guil since he is my favourite from the gang) but I was absolutely living for the Al and Camille scenes – their bickering and banter was A+++

I’ll admit I did guess some of the twists and at times the book did start to feel very “middle book” filler-y but I thoroughly enjoyed it all nonetheless and am now eagerly awaiting book 3!

If you're a fan of the found family trope and stories where (dark) magic and science colide and haven't picked up this trilogy yet then you're truly missing out and need to pick up these books now!!
Final Rating – 4/5 Stars
Profile Image for Jenny (Bookbookowl).
559 reviews232 followers
April 10, 2021
Thankyou to Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Monstrous Design follows directly on from Dangerous Remedy – Camille, separated from Ada, and Al are determined to find Olympe’s kidnapper. Camille has a plan, but it’s dangerous at best and time is running out before she’ll have to actually go through with it.

Meanwhile, the experiments with power haven’t ended with Olympe and a new, horrifying one is taking place.

I loved Dangerous Remedy but for some reason, Monstrous Design didn’t quite grab me in the same way. In the first book, I felt like there was a goal and fast paced writing to get us there. This book just seemed to meander on with no real point. Maybe it was a case of middle book syndrome for me, or maybe I just wasn’t quite in the headspace I needed to be in. The experiment angle was interesting but the rest seemed to just be a lot of not much happening 😕 I will definitely still read the next book though!
Profile Image for Kate (Reading Through Infinity).
702 reviews405 followers
July 29, 2021
Thanks to Midas PR and Zephyr for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This is the enticing sequel to YA historical fantasy Dangerous Remedy, with action, betrayal, romance and an electric (literally) plot. The second book picks up almost immediately where the first book left off with Camille and Al travelling to England in search of Olympe. It pays to read this book soon after reading the first, as the action and cliffhanger of Dangerous Remedy will still be fresh in your mind.

The stakes felt higher in this book, with Camille and Ada both (separately) trying to pull off subterfuge missions by going undercover in their enemies' home territories. Camille tries to get close to James in England so she can find Olympe while Ada pretends to ally with the Duc in order to figure out what his plans for France are.

One of the things that made the first book so enjoyable for me was the sapphic romance, and sadly there was very little of that in this book because Ada and Camille are apart for most of the story. I know that this was just part of the plot and they had to go their separate ways to save their friend, but I missed them being together, scheming and dancing on rooftops. Hopefully we get more sweet sapphic moments with them in book three.

It feels like Kat Dunn purposefully splintered the battalion in this story to show us whether they can survive without one another. In the first book we got to see their adventures as a team and now we get to see them attempt to grow and navigate society without each other. This is a smart move because the fact that they're not together makes us long for them to be reunited even more.

I also liked the fact that Dunn paired unlikely characters together; we could expect Camille and Ada to team up and Al and Guil or Leon to work together, but instead we see Al and Camille in England and Ada and Guil in France. This gave us moments where Al and Camille clash and argue, but ultimately by spending more time together, they begin to understand each other better. Ada and Guil, meanwhile, cement their friendship and learn to work as a unit.

I was actually hoping we would see more of Guil in this book because he was my favourite character from book one and, although we got to find out a little more about his past, he didn't really get much more page time than book one (if anything he got less?). This is just personal preference, but I just want a whole spin off story of Guil saving the day and living his life (he just needs a warm hug OK?).

If there's one thing I'm a big fan of in novels, it's a character redemption arc, and boy did did Kat Dunn give me that. I'm not going to specify who the arc was for to avoid spoilers, but let's just say it was slow, drawn out, and deliciously satisfying.

The book is written from dual third person perspectives between Camille in England and Ada in France. Although there were times when Ada's POV felt very slow, the format worked well to build up anticipation of the next chapter. Whenever one of Camille's chapters ended on a cliffhanger, I was eager to race through Ada's chapter and get back to Camille to find out what would happen next.

Whereas the world-building in book one focused solely on France, the world-building in this book concentrates more on England. So, although we get a rich and detailed picture of 18th century London, it feels like we lose a little of the details of France. I suppose this is inevitable when the scene has already been set in the first book from Dangerous Remedy.

As well as sapphic characters and gay rep, we also get disability rep in this book, as James's mother uses a Bath chair, which is a historical term for a wheelchair.

I buddy read this with Helen and there were times when we had questions about gaps in the plot and the validity of character decisions, but on the whole, we had a lot of fun reading this together and we'll potentially read book three together too.

Content warnings for violence, blood, long term illness, (previous) death of parents, murder, shooting, injury, kidnapping, reanimation, electrocution, animal cruelty.
Profile Image for Zoe.
141 reviews
June 9, 2021

Monstrous Design picks up where Dangerous Remedy left off. The Battalion is separated - Camille and Al are chasing after James and Olympe, whilst Ada and Guil remain in Paris and attempt to infiltrate the enemy. All of the narratives were extremely interesting, as Ada’s arc provided a more in-depth look at the ‘scientific’ advances of the time and some of the gory experiments taking place, whilst Camille provided an insight into the privileged lives of the wealthy English as she adopts a more ladylike attitude in order to fit into society whilst trying to find Olympus. James’s perspective was also introduced in this book, which I found particularly interesting as it provided a deeper insight into his motivations and family dynamic.

This book concentrated on the characters more, in contrast to book one with was very action packed and moved quickly. I enjoyed this book more because of the character development - the choices the characters made and their arcs were the highlight of this book for me. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the exploration of Camille and Al’s relationship - the two characters worked really well together. The book did move a little more slowly than it’s predecessor, but it paid off as there was a lot of action at the end and set things up for book three.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, I feel the trilogy is moving in a great direction and I’m excited for book three. I really like the premise of this series, and I think the found family trope is used really well and I appreciate the diversity and representation of strong women in the series. My only criticism is that I find Camille pretty unlikeable at times and James flip-flops about a lot, but overall I enjoyed and would definitely recommend the series.

Profile Image for Izzie.
584 reviews111 followers
May 6, 2021
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a 5 star read like the first book, but I definitely have faith that the final book will be incredible. This was still an extremely solid read, and I loved being back with The Battalion of The Dead and the rich setting of the French Revolution was just as fantastic as the first book. My main “criticism”, I guess, is that there just wasn’t enough action/it wasn’t well distributed throughout the book. I think what Dangerous Remedy did really well was keeping the action consistent throughout the book and keeping me on the edge of my seat. Monstrous Design had too many sections that were a little flat and uninteresting, it was very dialogue heavy and felt a bit stagnant. The ending was explosive and just as good as Dangerous Remedy, but I needed more of that throughout the book. There was also a little too much James content for me, but that’s just personal preference. Overall, this was a rich and intriguing book that unfortunately felt a bit too much like it was trying to bridge the gap between the first and final book. It didn’t stand on its own as well as Dangerous Remedy did. However, I love each characters ARC, the detail of the setting and history was immaculate, and I was continuously blown away by Kat Dunn’s masterful use of words and sentence structure. I can’t wait for the final book even though there’s not even any information about it yet. Also please look out for a video I’ll be making on my channel to celebrate the books release in June!
Profile Image for Gabby.
354 reviews80 followers
October 5, 2021
An enjoyable sequel! I liked that we got to see a few more different dynamics in this one - Al and Cam together (+James & Olympe) and Guil with Ada. I also liked exploring the different settings, and seeing more backstory to each of our characters + dealing with all of their past trauma (before the setting of the first back, and the events that happened in that).

Just like the first, this was filled with action, plotting, scheming and betrayal. New alliances were formed, old ones were broken, broken ones were reformed, etc. . . if a diagram was drawn there would be a LOT of lines crossing.

I did find this book a little more predictable than the first one (like I saw that final twist coming) and I dpn't think it was as well plotted - like everytime a new scheme or something was made I was like 'well that's a poor plan' or somebody would kidnap somebody and hide them at their residence and it was just like ????

But with that said, it was still an enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to the next one to see how Dunn wraps it all up!

Profile Image for Kirsten Moody.
295 reviews89 followers
March 24, 2023
4 stars.

I enjoy this historical fantasy series, with influences from Frankenstein.
An easy read, short chapters and fast paced.

This one also looked a lot at how women were seen during this time period, how they have to fight for recognition of their work.

Profile Image for Bertie (LuminosityLibrary).
471 reviews108 followers
June 17, 2021
This book is the second in the series and featured the wonderfully messy characters I’ve grown to love, an action-packed and dramatic plot, and a wonderfully fun setting. I especially loved the Frankenstein vibes.

You can find my full review here!

Thanks to Head of Zeus and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Follow me on my blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

Profile Image for Librow0rm  Christine.
346 reviews7 followers
April 18, 2021
Thank you Head of Zeus and NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc of Monstrous Design in exchange for an honest review.

Monstrous Design follows immediately on from the closing events of Dangerous Remedy. Camille is separated from Ada, and with Al are determined to find Olympe and her kidnapper.

Of course Camille has a plan, but it’s dangerous at best and foolhardy at worst, but time is running out and they soon find themselves amidst the world of English gentility, having to manoeuvre their way through all the hurdles of that, whilst also tracking down Olympe. In the meantime, Ada and Guil are left behind in Paris to put the pieces together and try to salvage the gang before everything implodes and the monstrous batallón are no more.

Monstrous Design takes quite a different turn from Monstrous Remedy, delving more into the background, personalities and emotions of the gang. The pace doesn’t falter, but there is more depth, of course there are experiments and so much more. However, for me the character insights added a new nuance to the story, bringing the reasons and justification for certain behaviours to life.

I will say that as a middle book, it was an improvement in a few I’ve read, and it has left me wanting the third book now!
Profile Image for Colleen.
130 reviews12 followers
June 16, 2021
With thanks to Head of Zeus and Kat Dun for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.

4 1/2*

I gave the first in the trilogy 3*, this instalment is a wonderfully welcome step up. Now i can't wait for the concluding book.

In Monstrous Design the Battalion of the Dead are separated. Ada and Guil remain in an unsettled Paris in which the revolution looks set to collapse. At the same time Cam and Al have travelled to England in search of Olyampe. This gives us a very well executed multi POV story telling style that held me on the edge of my seat racing to finish.

I got completely lost in this world with this book and faced that horrible mix of I need to know what happens but i really don't want it to end. I've added both to my tbr to read again before the year is out.
Profile Image for Sarah Bell.
Author 3 books28 followers
June 23, 2021
An enjoyable sequel! The characters continue to shine here, particularly Ada and Camille.

James also makes for an intersting additional POV - I mean he's a fool, but he's a relatable fool. The flaw in his motive is pretty obvious from the get-go and yet that only makes it more life-like.

The one downside is that the main characters (and main couple!) spend most of the book apart. This is fairly obvious from the blurb & yet I thought the plotlines might converge earlier than they did.

But that ending, though!
December 28, 2021
I loved Dangerous Remedy so much and this is the second in the seriesand follows on from the last book. I love Kat Dunn’s writing I think it emotes such strong atmosphere, I,ages and sometimes I swear I can smell the scenes and I can't help but fall in love with her books, it’s fast paced, so many plot twists and. Can’t wait for the next book to hopefully resolve everything, thoroughly enjoyed and recommended

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Profile Image for Jessica.
614 reviews22 followers
March 5, 2022
This book suffered from second book syndrome severely. I was so bored and felt like nothing really happened. I will read the third because I have high hopes for it, that it can redeem the series!
Profile Image for Nicole Sweeney.
506 reviews13 followers
June 6, 2022
Monstrous Design is the second instalment in Kat Dunn’s thrilling Battalion of the Dead series. The story picks up right after the events of Dangerous Remedy. We follow Camille and Al as they attempt to get Olympe back and we follow Ada and Guil as they attempt to find where the Duc is hiding out. As the stakes get higher alliances are soon called into question – but will the battalion of the dead be able to survive their latest adventure?

Dangerous Remedy was one of my favourite books of 2020. It was one of those books I still thought about months after reading it, and Monstrous Design was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021. Monstrous Design is action-packed – it’s a rollercoaster ride that does not stop till the very last page. It’s a pretty fast-paced story and despite being nearly 500 pages I read it in a single day. Dunn really hooks the reader in with this addictive plot that’s full of twists – with everyone playing their own game I never quite knew what was going to happen next.

In Monstrous Design we are transported to England as well as France and Dunn really makes the sights and sounds of both cities come alive in the story. My favourite thing about Dangerous Remedy was the brilliant characters and that was definitely the same in Monstrous Design. I loved being back with the Batallion again and it was fascinating seeing how the characters grow in this second instalment. I think Al is still my favourite, but I honestly love them all. I also really liked getting to know James more and learning more about his motivations as a character. He was a really fascinating POV character – he is really complex and torn between loyalties. Likewise, I loved Camille and Ada, they are such compelling characters and I think I could read a dozen books about the crew and their daring heists.

Monstrous Design is a brilliant sequel and I am incredibly excited to see where Kat Dunn will take us in book three. If you’ve been curious about this series I definitely recommend picking it up and if you’ve already read Dangerous Remedy, you need to pick up book two now!
Author 4 books27 followers
May 27, 2022
I received an ARC from the publishers as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

An action packed sequel, MONSTROUS DESIGN plunges back into the world of the Terror as the Battalion of the Dead are divided by the English Channel.

We get a new POV in this entry, James - Camille's fiancé and betrayer. He was quite an enigma in the first book, which was necessary to ensure his motives were uncertain, but now it's nice to see into his mind and understand why he's acting as he is. Plus it helps round him out as a character, with his own complexities and twisted loyalties.

This sequel takes us to London! I love books set in London written by Londoners - there's a level of authenticity to the setting - from getting streets to travel right. I love my home and I love seeing it done justice. You can tell there has been a fair bit of research done into what 1790s London and Paris were like, with lots of little details sprinkled in. The clothing and food is just as superbly done.

There are some anachronisms in the language - things like OK (mid-19th century, and also came into usage in America first) and teenager (20th century, also American). I doubt most would notice it, but it did pull me out at times because they're very easy words to work around (Olympe would be calling herself a girl not a teenager etc.)

MONSTROUS DESIGN is one of those books where, on a basic plot level, seemingly not much has changed by the end. (It's hard to talk here without spoilers, so apologies if it's either too vague or lets spoilers slip.) Camille hasn't achieved her primary goal and Ada is sort of where she started. However, it feels like a lot has happened, both in terms of actions taken (and allies lost and won) and in terms of the emotional blows sustained.

The ending sets up a high stakes final book in the trilogy which cannot arrive soon enough.
Profile Image for Amy Burt.
200 reviews6 followers
June 5, 2021
3.5 stars

There are a number of YA heist books out there, heist books are good fun, although what works so well in these books are they invariably involve a group of misfits, a group of people burned and/or shunned and unique who might not be accepted but they have each other. I think this is where the Battalion of the Dead series doesn’t quite hit the mark for me because the group never quite feel like a group. Every character bar Guil, the sweetheart of the group, betrays, lies, works behind the back of the group and acts on self interest to a frustrating degree. I long for the characters to work as a team wholeheartedly.

Camille is a confusing character and I know a lot of people dislike her but she keeps the good work going. Yes she’s bossy, yes she constantly acts alone and does stupid things and then just goes ‘Ada deserves better’ instead of just trying to be a better person, but I like her spirit and that her intentions are always good, if her execution necessarily isn’t. That said, she sees James’ mother is ill in this book and then lies to her and his whole family throughout the book, again abusing the love she is shown. Again she keeps secrets from the people who love her, doomed to both need to be forgiven and making her life harder for herself. But I do love her.
James, following his betrayal from the last book, holding a gun to Camille’s head and stealing Olympe, annoys the hell out of me. I won’t call the journey his character takes in this book development, it’s polar behaviour, literally in one quite alone he tells Camille both that he didn’t mean to hurt her AND that he thought it was ok to hurt anyone, how does this make sense?? You have Camille and Al, 2 characters who witnessed the executions of their fathers (a point James uses to hurt Camille), and then James who betrays and lies to those who love him best, including his brother-like best friend Edward, and kidnapping a girl who has already faced imprisonment and torture, all so his father may be proud of him? He chooses this need for approval over the approval and acceptance he already owns and a family in the Battalion. His conscience is like a light switch that is turned off and on and I don’t think his betrayal made sense and I don’t see redemption from it. Also his obsession with Camille is just weird. Part of the reason he had no problem physically threatening her was because he was jealous she now loved Ada?? Yeah, he’s needy trash. If you turned it into a drinking game how often he mentions his father, you’d be getting your stomach pumped 🤣
Ada also, I just don’t understand, yes she loves Camille, yes she thinks about Camille a lot, but she also sympathises too much with a man who did and does monstrous things (I’m keeping this spoiler free) and even helps him without knowing what he will do with this power she’s helped give him! For the brains of the group, it’s an idiotic move, fuelled by stubborn selfishness. I liked Ada in book 1 but I didn’t understand her in this one.
Al, I don’t enjoy his constant need to be snarky, we’re told that Camille is always hard on him but on paper it’s always hi, getting the jabs in. That said, I actually liked Al in this one and I really enjoyed the bonding and character development between him and Camille, 2 characters who have walked a similar path. Do I understand him necessarily though? No. For example, in one scene Al has to help carry Cam as she’s weak, it’s mentioned she’s losing weight and still coughing (and I’m mentally scarred by Moulin Rouge to think the worst of that diagnosis), then the next scene he’s shrugging because he encouraged her to go into a maze, lost her in it and just left. He’s a team player at times but at his choosing.
I wish Guil got more attention in the book, that man is a treasure! Olympe too is brave and kind and I adore her, I hope we learn more about her in the next instalment.

The book is enjoyable and while the characters frustrate me, I enjoy spending time with them (apart from James, still needy trash), although I do kinda wish that the series just focused on the battalion saving condemned people in the French Revolution, like the start of book 1, I think that would provide enough suspense and action. The addition of a Frankenstein -esq character and the electricity as a weapon (even though no matter how many times Olympe shocks someone, everyone seems quickly fine!), seems a little unnecessary. The writing is also not remotely trying to be historical, I get this isn’t a documentary and is fiction, but still, someone is described as a “bag of dicks”, while in the 18th century .... That said, clearly this book isn’t trying to be factual so this is a minor criticism!

Thank you NetGalley for the early copy to review, I look forward to seeing how this series ends.
Profile Image for Elite Group.
3,053 reviews49 followers
January 4, 2022
Fantasy adventure set amidst the chaos of the French Revolution

The year is 1794. Following the executions of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, the French revolutionary government is under the control of Maximilien Robespierre and his Jacobin allies, who have established a grim dictatorship under the guise of furthering the revolutionary republican cause. A spate of arrests and executions by guillotine are filling the prisons in Paris and leaving the city awash in blood. A new religious belief, the Cult of the Supreme Being, is being supported and promulgated by Robespierre to replace Catholicism as the official religion of France. However, despite the promise of the Revolution, people are still starving, the socio-economic divides are ever-present, and disillusionment and horror at what the Revolution has become are beginning to take their toll.

Amid the Great Terror, a small band of young people have come together to form the Bataillon des Morts, a group dedicated to helping anyone with a loved one or friend in trouble, regardless of what side of the Revolution they might be on. Camille, the leader, traumatised by the death of her revolutionary parents and determined to rescue others like them; Ada, the brilliant science student from Martinique; Guil, a French army deserter; and Al, the odd one out of an aristocratic family – all the members of the Bataillon are in some form of danger and have their own different demons to face. But when the royalist Duc tasks them de L’Aubespine to rescue a girl named Olympe from the Bastille, they make an extraordinary discovery that could change the course of history …

With clear homages to Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – as well as a nod to Alexandre Dumas’ The Man in the Iron Mask – Dangerous Remedy establishes itself from the get-go as a historical adventure tale spiced with a little sci-fi and fantasy for good measure. Throwing the reader straight into a daring rescue right at the beginning, the plot then builds steadily as the members of the Bataillon gradually realise the high stakes of the game into which they have unwittingly stumbled. The twists, turns, and dangerous uncertainties of revolutionary Paris are evoked with skill and potency, as it becomes impossible for the Bataillon to know who to trust.

It must be said that, at times, the members of the Bataillon seem a little too contemporary in the way they speak and act; there are instances where it feels as if they are 21st-century time travellers sent back to right the wrongs of the French Revolution. The characters’ excessive modernity can take the reader out of the story, making us forget where we are supposed to be and, more importantly, who they are supposed to be. Another issue that strains the credibility of the story is Camille’s poor leadership. We know she is young and dealing with terrible loss, but she comes across as decidedly unsympathetic, not good with people, and awful at decision-making. We are told that she is the leader, the founder of the Bataillon and that the others follow her willingly, but we are not shown why. There is, however, one point where Camille acknowledges to herself that she doesn’t deserve the faith they all place in her, so perhaps this is intentional and will be dealt with in the books which follow.

A solid, if flawed, start to a promising series.

Jo-Anne Blanco / Arwen Evenstar
Elite Group received a copy of the book to review

Profile Image for ElenaSquareEyes.
419 reviews15 followers
February 21, 2023
While there was Frankenstein elements in the first book, Monstrous Design goes full steam ahead with those ideas and with it becomes quite horrifying at times as the theoretical becomes reality. The blending of eighteenth-century science with fantastical elements is still really interesting and as Ada gets more involved with experiments, you see more of how she’s chafing against what’s deemed as proper for a girl of her standing when all she wants to do is learn and understand.

This isn’t a fault of the book but it’s something I’ve noticed as this is the third YA book I’ve read so far this year when the rest of my reading has been adult. The teenage characters really feel like teenagers – which is good! They all often feel like maudlin teens or out of their depth and having big feelings about things, which also makes the moments when they’re honest about their feelings all the more impactful.

In relation to this, I like how these teenage characters parents have a big impact on them. It’s easy to just have absent or dead parents in YA to allow the characters to do what they wish, and there are a few dead parents thanks to the revolution, but the parents have clearly shaped their children – for good or for bad. Ada’s relationship with her father is one that gets more focus in Monstrous Design as he feels he’s trying to protect her and set her up with the life a young woman needs aka a husband and own home to look after, and doesn’t take into consideration what Ada desires from life. James’ relationship with his father is frustrating at times but also understandable as he wants his father’s approval and praise and will do anything to get it, even if it means putting himself and others in difficult positions.

Having the Battalion split up and two storylines running concurrently means there’s a lot of twists and conspiracies in two different countries. I didn’t find one group of characters more interesting than the other which was good as sometimes there isn’t that balance. I did worry the Paris gang wasn’t going to be doing much to drive the plot forward but was happy to be proven wrong about that and how everything comes together was really well done.

Monstrous Design isn’t quite as action-packed as Dangerous Remedy but there’s still a lot of scheming and peril and there’s still a dry wit which is mostly thanks to Al. It’s still a fast-paced and engaging read and how it combines the politics of the time with fantastical elements is really well done and interesting.
Profile Image for Katy.
645 reviews430 followers
April 9, 2021
Monstrous Design is the sequel to Dangerous Remedy, following the continuing antics of the battalion des morts, who have now been seperated with Camille and Al in England and Ada and Guil remaining in Paris. The first book focuses largely on the french revolution, but this book takes an frankensteinen turn and becomes more of a horror/manhunt for Olympe as many factions all want her for their own purposes.

I liked seeing the characters we know from book one seperate, as I feel like this gives them time to reflect on their actions from book 1 and grow as people. I of course shipped Ada and Camille in book 1 but I feel like they benefitted from being seperated for the majority of this novel as we got to see them both as indviduals and pursuing things (well Ada at least) they really wanted. Also sapphic pining >>>>>>

A minor detail that I'm sure will bother no-one lese is that we find out towards the end that Camille has a terminal lung disease, and as a curious medical student I really wanted to know the actual diagnosis lol. I'm assuming its Consumption (pulmonary TB) given the time period and symptoms but Kat Dunn if you are reading this please enlighten me haha. Also on this storyline, I think it's going to add an extra layer of angst in book 3 and I'm very curious if the series will have a tragic ending or not.

We see a lot more of James in this book, somewhat of an antagonist in book 1 as Camille's financee from England who shows up unexpectedly and at the end betrays them and steals Olympe for himself, we get to understand a lot more about his character and motivations. I felt ambivalent towards him in book one but in this book he was probably my favourite character! I loved seeing his growth and his general struggle with trying to impress others but losing himself in the process.

I really enjoyed the plot in this book, its slightly more slow moving than book one but I enough this and I feel like it gives time for the tension to brew. I also liked exploring the body snatchers and medical "advances" in the 18th century.

In conclusion I really enjoyed this, the characters are fun to follow, the plot is engaging and it's all backed by solid writing with a great historical setting.
21 reviews1 follower
July 4, 2021
Thank you so so much to NetGalley and to Head of zeus for being kind enough to grant my request for this eARC. This was such a treat. All views and opinions discussed here are my own.
Monstrous Design is the second book in the battalion of the dead series with dangerous remedy being the first book and starts pretty much where Dangerous Remedy left off, The battalion are split up in two countries with Camille and Al heading to England to chase down James and Olympe in Georgian London, while Guil and Ada stay behind in Revolutionary France to keep an eye on the dangerous Duc. There’s a lot of development and exploration in book two. Ada lost her mother at the same age as I lost mine and I felt really connected to ada through this as we get to explore her back story much more in this book I even found myself liking clementine at times and hoping that her mothering instincts would prevail for olympies sake.
I screamed with joy when I came across book two on netgalley as I had no idea book two was a thing I mean I hoped it would be but hadn't heard for sure and the fact it was so long meant I spent even longer in this beautifully atmospheric story.There’s a lot more development and exploration in book two that I craved from book one.The settings are so atmospheric from Pleasure Gardens to Henley House and Covent Garden laboratories and underground catacombs, we are beautifully transported back in time to the sounds, smells and atmospheres of London and Paris.
The stunning cover beautifully matches the first and I have pre ordered a copy to sit alongside the gripping first book dangerous remedy. I anticipate rereading both books repeatedly for years to come and really hope a third book is on the horizon.
Highly Highly recommend this book if you've just come across book two then please get yourself a copy of dangerous remedy sit back and enjoy.
#The battalion of the dead series
#Frankenstein meets Les Mis
31 reviews18 followers
August 24, 2021
I wish more authors would take their cue from Leigh Bardugo. Whatever you think of her writing, she does not create artificial trilogies but rather recognises when the story can and should be wrapped within the second book. I bring up this point because Battlation of the Dead has a distinctive Six of Crows vibe, yet fails to reach its potential precisely because of this. In the effort to create a plot just as clever and twisty, the author tied her own shoelaces a bit.

I´ll admit I originally thought Battalion of the Dead was a duology (my mistake) and was, therefore, quite thrown by the meandering nature of this book and its arguably troubled pacing. However, as I neared the end, it became clear to me that there has to be a third book and many open plot points and loose ends suddenly made more sense.

Even though this is still an enjoyable read, it definitely suffers (much like many of its kin) from a middle book syndrome. A lot happens, yet only a handful of events has any sort of impact on the overall story. The ending feels rushed and the inevitable twisty cliffhanger fails to be surprising.

The character work remains the strong point of the story, even though some of the actions do not exactly fit the characters we came to know in Dangerous Remedy, which is a bit frustrating. It feels like the author herself was hesitant with their development. However, I have to appreciate that she does not shy away from exploring moral dilemmas and difficult situations and portrays both in a very realistic way.

I will definitely read the third instalment, I just have to do it with my fingers crossed. A lot will be riding on the way the finale is handled, but I am trusting the author to bring us a meaningful conclusion for this wonderfully inventive tale.
Profile Image for yorkshirebooknerd.
493 reviews10 followers
June 7, 2021
Monstrous Design picks up directly where Dangerous Remedy left off. Camille and Al are in London to get Olympe back from James, whereas Ada and Guil are in Paris observing the Duc. The Battalion are torn apart like never before. Battered, bruised and desperately trying to cope with their own grief and losses, there is no time to mourn, as everything is under threat.

Although I enjoyed Monstrous Design is didn’t quite meet my high expectations after Dangerous Remedy. The gang are just as brilliant but because they are all separated, I think that killed some of the energy and parts of this book seemed a little aimless. I still loved Kat’s amazing writing style and the macabre experiments were as fascinating as ever but some of the story seemed to drag. Having said that, I loved the deeper insight into the characters and the look at some of their history. I definitely enjoyed Al’s humour and with quotes like this I’m sure you’ll see why...

‘We’re all a little stab-happy here, but maybe let’s try to keep the conversation on the two people out to get us, all right? I’m sure you can manage a little truce until we’ve escaped hideous death?’

All in all, I still enjoyed the book and I adore these characters so I’m 100% invested in finding out what happens to them. I think after book one was so wonderful, it was always going to be hard for this book to live up to its predecessor.

3.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (rounded up to 4)

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher (Zephyr Books and Head of Zeus) for providing a copy of the book for review. All opinions are my own and provided willingly.
Profile Image for Liam.
266 reviews8 followers
September 1, 2022
I really enjoyed Monstrous Design. Following on from Dangerous Remedy, it was really interesting to see the repercussions that adventure had for the Battalion of the Dead.

The protagonists were divided, both physically and emotionally, with some of them dealing with betrayals, others torn between competing loyalties, and with the Battalion scattered across England and France. This led to some very interesting storytelling, seeing things unfold from the points of view of players at odds with each other. One of the best things about this approach was that it was clear to see that although they may be choosing different sides, everyone was doing it for reasons they thought were important, no two-dimensional bad guys here. The complexity of character, along with the growing complexity of the plot, gave this novel a lot of depth.

It is exciting too! There was a lot of daring action too, and a very real sense of peril as villains closed in from all sides, leading to a most thrilling climax.

The setting is a really dark and fun mix of the Terror period of post-revolutionary France and sci-fi invention in the vein of Mary Shelley. The feeling of uncertainty and fear of that period, where things didn't quite unfold as anyone hoped or expected and no one knows what's going to come of it all give this book a wonderfully unnerving tone.

With its pacy action and complex morality, and its mix of real world history and fantastical invention, Monstrous Design is a thrilling book.
Profile Image for Brianna.
830 reviews69 followers
September 10, 2022
I am disappointed but not all that surprised. I read the first book in this trilogy, Dangerous Remedy, on a whim earlier on this year because the premise sounded similar to Six of Crows and promised the inclusion of one of my favourite tropes: misfits. Unfortunately, it failed to draw me in, and the same can be said about it’s successor. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly doesn’t work for me in this series, but it’s missing something that prevents me from enjoying myself while reading. The characters feel bland, and the plot feels slow, despite the intensity I know I’m supposed to be experiencing. Monstrous Design was also way too long and drawn out – 432 pages? I could have done with 300.

The element of this book that actively annoyed me was the romance between Ada and Camille. These two characters are in a long-distance relationship for the majority of this book and a significant amount of page-time is spent with these two characters thinking about the other and feeling self-conscious about their love life. Both Ada and Camille refuse to communicate with each other and it was infuriating to read about over and over and over again. I understand how this might be a realistic portrayal of teens in love, but that doesn’t mean it was fun to read about.

I will be continuing on with this trilogy, mostly because I made a promise to myself when I started it that I would finish it (I have a problem with starting series and then never finishing them that I am trying to combat right now). Thankfully the audiobook for Glorious Poison is only 8 hours, which is manageable for my sanity.
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