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The Descent of Monsters

(Tensorate #3)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,283 ratings  ·  238 reviews
JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden.

You are reading this because I am dead.

Paperback, 166 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by
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Dana It would not be ideal. As Greg mentioned, major characters from the previous novellas are featured, but also understanding the setting, creatures,…moreIt would not be ideal. As Greg mentioned, major characters from the previous novellas are featured, but also understanding the setting, creatures, magic system, and politics involved may be important for understanding what's happening in this story. It is not a direct continuous story, and the main character in each book is news, but context is very important and you'll be missing out.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,283 ratings  ·  238 reviews

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Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, lgbt, 4-star, year-2018
Out of the three Tensorate novellas I have read, this one is definitely my favorite.

The set up of this novel is a bit different from the first two, expounding on the monster hunting story line established in The Red Threads of Fortune. This one, however, is set up mostly in the form of letters/transcriptions of diaries/official reports.

I feel as though this mode of storytelling is particularly well suited to Yang's writing style.

In the past two books, I've struggled a bit with feeling as
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-shelf, fantasy
This novella goes the epistolary format in a big way. Very enjoyable to me! :)

This time we get a harried and *hat upon investigator who is given no support from her superiors. Big surprise, right? But she's still required to figure out what happened to the boneyard that is the focus of this novella. Experimentation, a half naga-raptor monster, and of course... TWINS are involved. :)

Maybe this series ought to be called the Twinsorate. :)

What we don't get in sheer description or straightforward
The Descent of Monsters is the third novella in the silpunk fantasy series Tensorate. It does not follow the twins anymore, not directly, and it's told completely through letters, parts of diaries and reports.

I didn't like this novella as much as the first two books, for two main reasons: the format, and the main character.
One of the things I liked the most about the first two books was the atmosphere, especially the description of the setting. Because of the format, I didn't get many of them
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This series is so brilliant. The Descent of Monsters is very different stylistically than the first two, both of which were very different from each other, but all three stories have been incredibly creative and well-written. This episode is told exclusively through written documentation of the investigation into a gruesome incident, which provides an interesting framing for the events and revelations that follow. I love epistolary novels, and it really works for this story - I especially liked ...more
I'm not sure how to describe this, especially without dropping any spoilers. (And partly because I'm writing this review two months after finishing the book ... things have been nuts and I'm ridiculously behind here.)

There's not exactly a main character. The story is told via letters, journal entries, and job reports from two people who at first don't appear to have anything in common. I really enjoyed wondering what was going on, and then slowly -- and chillingly -- figuring it all out. The
K.J. Charles
Aug 26, 2018 added it
Shelves: fantasy
Another cracking novella in the Asian-fantasy-rooted Tensorate world. These really are terrific; when will we get a novel expanding on it all? (she says greedily). This one is creepy, vivid, super immersive, and opens out the sinister world in a fascinating way while updating us on the MCs of the first books. Also, the covers are just absurdly good. Terrific.
Shaun Hutchinson
The format was a little more difficult to get into than the previous novellas, and made the story a little more impersonal, but it was still wonderful and I enjoyed it immensely.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite Tensorate novella so far: the prose is smoother and more elegant than in the previous installments, the plot tight, and, most importantly, Yang skillfully pulled off a challenging narrative structure of scattered fragments and documents. It's just so good and bold and chilling.
Actual review: 2.75

“This is my truth, my record of everything that’s about to happen.”

The Descent of Monsters is the third book in the Tensorate series, and it is currently my least favourite story.


I’m a huge fan of the writing style in this book. Although I’ve read it previously in the science fiction genre, The Themis Files and The Illuminae Files were very interesting mostly due to the written format.

On one hand, the format suited Yang’s writing. One of my main
Not my favourite Tensorate novella - while I liked the conceit of telling the story through investigative notes, correspondence and diary entries, I found they kept me at arm's length, reducing the tension. I love this world and this story is intriguing, but I found I wanted more context for our Investigator (we see her become a rebel, but never understand why she was an Investigator, or how a Tensor ended up married to a pirate!)

Full review to follow.
Perhaps my least favourite in the series. Not a fan of the letter/report format either, not with this kind of story and worldbuilding. There’s something limiting in having one character recounting only things she/he/they witness. You can’t help but feel there’s something you’re missing or not fully experiencing. Plus, the ending was a bit predictable in an every-rebellion-needs-its-martyrs kind of way, and the new main character was one-dimensional.

I am quite sad that I cannot rate this higher.
Gail (The Knight Reader)
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yang flexes their creativity some more in this third installment and it works perfectly. It is my favorite novella of the three I’ve read, asking its readers some hard hitting questions like who are the monsters here? Layers are added to old characters but like the Slack itself, nothing is ever quite clear. I love these gaps and the way Yang forces me to use my mind. I am here mulling possibilities and realities I hadn’t considered. I am excited for novella 4 ...more
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book really devastated me. It opens with a letter written by the main character to her wife, only to be read on her death - so I guess I should have been prepared. It’s told through letters and reports - I’ve always liked this sort of epistolary novel and I think it works well. This is the 3rd in the Tensorate series and I don’t think it’s very standalone.

It’s the story of investigator Chuwan and her inquiry into something terrible that happened in a remote research facility. Chuwan is a
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was amazing, I liked the first two novellas a lot, the second even more, but THIS ONE topped them in a way I wasn't even expecting.
Though they're a whole, a series, and I wouldn't have enjoyed this one without the worldbuilding being set in the previous ones and the background characters present here.
I love how JY Yang managed to change things up in this third instalment with the format of letters, reports and journal entries.
I also LOVE Chuwan and can't wait for everyone to
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

All of these novellas are so lovely and SO different from each other. It’s awesome.

My only confusion was Akeha’s pronouns- I was sure they were a “He” in previous books? Either I misinterpreted the first 2 or I missed a change, So clearly I need to reread them.
Dawn C
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-kindle
Oh this was brilliant and so engaging. I have to praise Yang for keeping the Tensorate stories fresh with new perspectives, as this time we follow the investigation into a tragic event that happened at a research facility through a variety of reports and personal letters. It brings something new to the stories and work really well as a means to tell us more about the characters connected to Akeha, Mokoya, Rider, and the others we’ve met. I can’t wait for the fourth book now!

Eta: Yang confirmed
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly executed storytelling. The third book in the series is very different from the second which is very different from the first, but this, like the previous volumes, introduces new characters and advances the overall plot in a compelling way. The world that Yang creates becomes even more intricate and real. I can’t wait to see where she takes the fourth book.
Jackie Guy
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
SQUEEEEEEEEEEE THIS IS SO COOOLLLLLLLLLLL AND *clenches fist* I love these characters. My favorite in the series so far...
Corey White
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Took me a little while to get into the story because of the Found Materials format, but once I got past that it was a brilliant read. Expertly woven together, and expands the scope of the world even further. Can't wait for book 4!
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, fantasy
Actual rating: 3.75
Brandon St Mark
Didn’t particularly care for this one as much as the previous two volumes in the series. The epistolary format didn’t really work for me, it took me out of the story. Hopefully the final book will be in the same style as the first two because I really really enjoyed them.
Psyche Ready
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've dearly loved each book in this series, but this was the most exciting, action-packed, and compelling of all three. I strongly recommend all of them to those who love fantasy and science fiction, and characters with mysterious, magical gifts for manipulating reality.

The third book is different from the first two primarily in that it's like an X-Files narrative: spooky terrible things have happened underground, and it is up to a gang of resourceful misfits to use their strange gifts to find
Reviewed for The Bibliophibian.

The first two books (The Red Threads of Fortune and The Black Tides of Heaven) introduce you to a world and a setting without making it essential to have read the other book first (though personally, I would read Black Tides first anyway). I found that by contrast, The Descent of Monsters was very much settled within that now existing framework, and relied on prior knowledge of the other two novellas to orientate you and help you understand who means what to whom
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, queer
4 solid

This entry proved a slightly trickier read because of its structure. The Descent of Monsters is entirely composed of letters, investigative reports, and journal entries. Yang placed two letters which form the heart of the story at the beginning. The rest are arranged somewhat out of order and the keen reader, with Yang's helpful cues, will piece the different puzzle pieces together.

Beyond the pleasure of working out the puzzle the form represented, to me, how the series has operated so
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I haven't read the first two books in this series (YET!), and while I know the plot of each book is self-contained, I feel like there was some setting information I'm missing out on, like the basic political set-up and what "slack" and "slackcraft" are. Nevertheless, the setting as shown is incredibly cool and fascinating, and the weird wonderfulness of it is nicely contrasted by the prosaic speech of the characters. Now I absolutely need to read the first two books, because this world and its ...more
Christina Pilkington
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Where this series shines is its world building. JY has created a unique world that fascinates me every time I read this series. I really liked the combination of mystery with fantasy in Descent of Monsters and the way the story is told mostly through letters. Overall, my favorite book in this series.
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent addition to the Tensorate series. I love the world that Yang has created as well as the characters. Each novella is told from a different point of view -- this variance adds a lot of richness to the stories. Looking forward to another release in this series later this year.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
Book no.4 isn't out for a few months yet, though I have read its first few chapters. The first three books have been terrific.
It's epistolary fiction with outsider point of view: two of my favorite tropes. Add in the deft beginning effort to knot together threads (some of which I'd thought abandoned forever) from previous volumes, and of course I was hooked. I can't wait to see what Yang does next.
I guess book 2 was just a low point for me because I really enjoyed this one. It introduces a new main character and has a slightly more 'modern' feel as it is more of a detective story and takes place in a kind of scientific complex. Akeha and Rider are in it a bit but most of the page space is dedicated to the new character. Very interested to see how this is all going to come together!
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JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and two more slated for 2018 and 2019). Their short fiction has been published in over a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons.

In previous incarnations, they have been a molecular biologist; a writer for

Other books in the series

Tensorate (4 books)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1)
  • The Red Threads of Fortune (Tensorate #2)
  • The Ascent to Godhood (Tensorate, #4)
“Where there was a jungle of fear and uncertainty, there shall be the shape of hidden things revealed. Where there were storms of lies, there will be truth.” 1 likes
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