The Monster of Elendhaven

Tor.com. Sept. 2019. 160p. ISBN 9781250225689. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250225351. FANTASY
DEBUT In this vicious bruise of a novel, a thing washes up on the shores of Elendhaven. He’s small and short but grows and gives himself a name, Johann, gaining an identity at the same time, monster. Johann is something different in Elendhaven, a land where magic has died out. He can gruesomely hurt himself and heal quickly, over and over. He can harm others, and they won’t recover. When Johann meets Florian, it’s a match made in hell: Florian is a powerful sorcerer who hides in plain sight as an accountant. He also wants to watch his world destroyed in a plague of his own creation. There’s an immediate attraction between them, but it’s hard to find a quiet moment to explore it as they try to bring their city down.
VERDICT Elendhaven is as fully formed as Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast” series with truly repellent characters who don’t possess a shred of moral fiber. Yet the right readers will still love them, as newcomer Giesbrecht is a fantasy writer to watch with a sure command of her world.

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