The Monstrous Child
Francesca Simon’s first novel for 12+ readers is a darkly funny look at life through the eyes of Hel, ordinary teenager – and goddess of the underworld.
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A stunning, operatic and epic drama like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager – and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? But Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened.
Francesca Simon’s wonderful first foray into teen fiction.
Dark and very funny
With her refreshing love of the rebarbative, Francesca Simon has taken the myth about Hel, Queen of the Norse Underworld and turned it into a wholly original, hideously funny, curiously affecting black comedy about dysfunctional families that readers from Los Angeles to London will recognise. This is an extraordinary book, grim and cruel in places but with a wit and sophistication to its heroine which makes you root for her as she tries to overcome her fate.
How monstrously good that Simon has brought a myth confined to university basements and the bookshop in Reykjavik airport up to the ground-floor mainstream.
the novel’s power is drawn from a mix of modern thought patterns and speech rhythms with the acrid language of desolation, including unobtrusive phrasing and word blending that recalls Anglo Saxon poetry: ‘carrion too rank for ravens’, ‘tomb-home’, ‘hurled me here’, ‘landing hard, hooves smashing rocks’, ‘raven-dark world’, and so on. The result is a novel in the service of a vision of a world that is utterly other but made breathtakingly immediate. It’s a stunning debut for an older audience.
If your sprog loves a bit of Norse mythology or is a budding goth at heart - because Hel is about as goth as they come - they'll lap this up like goat-mead from a goblet.
It’s an extraordinary novel, dark and grim, but Hel’s energy and vitality will keep readers on her side.
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