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The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon
  

The Monstrous Child

Francesca Simon

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

January 2017 Book of the Month | Shortlisted for YA Book Prize 2017 | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards, Children's Book category Francesca Simon has chosen a singular heroine for her first novel for teenagers. Hel is Queen of the Norse underworld, but never has the eternal teenage cry, ‘It’s not fair’ been more justified. Offspring of giants and gods, she is despised by all; human to the waist, she’s a ‘corpse baby’ - her legs are dangling and gangrenous at birth. Despatched to the Underworld, harbinger of Asgard’s downfall, she nonetheless retains her sharp tongue, her cynicism, her sense of humour and that’s what makes the book so interesting: who wouldn’t want to spend time in this teenager’s company as she works out how to make the best of her situation, unwisely falls in love and reluctantly accepts her fate. It’s an extraordinary novel, dark and grim, but Hel’s energy and vitality will keep readers on her side. ~ Andrea Reece

The Costa Judges said: “An ancient anti-heroine is given a fierce modern voice in this story of gods, monsters and growing up.”

Reader Reviews

Kids love to read and so in addition to the review by one of the Lovereading4kids editorial experts some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel members were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Click here to read their full reviews.

  • Rose Roberts, age 13 - 'It's one of those books that is so good you find it hard to describe. Emotional, this book is page-turning in a different way. It isn't full of action, but you read it at a speed as if it is.'
  • Katie Adeniji, age 16 - 'The Monstrous Child is an interesting read that - despite it's dark undertones - will intrigue a reader looking for a witty and cynical heroine to fall win love with.
  • Sidney Greenslade, age 13 - 'The Monstrous Child absorbed me completely. Compelling and incredibly, even scarily, vivid, I found myself utterly lost in Hel's beautifully described world.'
  • Eloise Mae Clarkson, age 14 - 'It was an enjoyable read and I would rate it five out of five stars.'
  • Ella Bourke, age 12 - 'Every single fantasy character you could think of lies within these pages. This book is not for the faint-hearted and not about lovable princesses.'
  • William Longlands, age 13 - 'The book is very descriptive and tells you lots so I would recommend it, especially if you want to find out about Norse Gods.'
  • Talia Jacobs, age 15 - 'The Monstrous Child is an interesting, gory read incorporating Norse Mythology! Great for 10-13 year olds. Hilarious and amusing, dark and gruesome, sorrowful and lovely, all in one!'
  • Chadwick, Melanie - 'A very dark tale based on Norse mythology which is steeped in death, disappointment and hatred.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'The world building in this book is exceptional, from the opening pages you know this is not going to be a light and fluffy read and with that known read on!'
  • Ruth Ward, Library & Resources Manager, Great Torrington School - 'You will be surprised at how this original story flows from the depths of darkness with strains of sarcastic humour. The Norse Goddess of the dead, Hel, tells her own ghastly story…deliciously loathsome tales await you…'
  • Kyra, age 17 - 'Doused with a concoction of mythology, a sassy narrator with a biting tongue, a world suffering under the vindictive reign of the Norse gods written in a darkly comical manner - you'll be bewitched.'

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Synopsis

The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

'Before you reject me, before you hate me, remember: I never asked to be Hel's queen.' But being a normal teenager wasn't an option either. Now she's stuck ruling the underworld. For eternity. She doesn't want your pity. But she does demand that you listen. It's only fair you hear her side of the story ...It didn't have to be like this.

Reviews

Hel, the protagonist of this deliciously fun YA debut from Simon (the Horrid Henry series), is the daughter of trickster god Loki and Angrboda the giantess. Hel was born a monster: while her top half is normal, she has the legs of a corpse. The Fates have foretold that Hel's brothers, Fenrir the wolf and Jormungand the snake, will kill Odin and Thor during Ragnarok, so the deities abduct the siblings and bring them to Asgard. Hel falls in love with the god Baldr, but her happiness is short-lived: Odin incapacitates Hel's kin, then ban-ishes her to Niflheim to rule the dead. By recasting the Norse queen of hell as a snarky, disaffected teenager, Simon makes the ancient relatable and adds humor to an otherwise grim and gruesome tale: Let's pause and take a closer look at just some of Dad's children, Hel offers. Eight legs (Sleipnir). Four legs (Fenrir). No legs (Jormungand). Corpse legs (yours truly). Though the book is light on plot and narrative drive, it oozes style, and Simon's evocative descriptions transport readers to the strange and brutal world of Norse myth. Ages 12-up. (June) Publishers Weekly Hel, Norse goddess of the Underworld, tells her story, on her terms, in THE MONSTROUS CHILD. Born in a cave with a snake and a wolf for brothers, Hel is the daughter of a giantess and of Loki, the god of mischief--it's no wonder that Hel is unusual too. While her torso is normal, her legs are those of a corpse. Her mother proves to be hateful, and her brothers are terrifying. Her absentee father appears and disappears for much of her life. She has never known affection

Hel keeps it interesting, and her scenes hold attention. Hel's story is unique

trapped in her fetid underworld, Hel (aka Goddess of the Dead) has had enough eternity, thanks, and she's about to tell you why.Jotunheim, land of the giants, leaves plenty to be desired. Snow, sleet, and howling winds scour the mountains. It's no Asgard. A seemingly ordinary girl on top, Hel's legs are in a permanent state of decay--blotched with gangrene, wrapped in bandages. Her father, Loki, rarely visits the family cave. But then the children are kidnapped and brought to golden Asgard, as Odin hopes to render her ill-fated brothers harmless, at least for now. At first overlooked, narrator Hel develops a huge crush on Baldr, a beautiful, kindly--and married--god, before Odin hurls her to Niflheim to rule over the dead. This permanent teen doesn't take her fate lying down--at first. Failing to escape, she occupies herself constructing a palace for the dead and dreams of Baldr, fated to die eventually and come to her. But as years pass, she grows bitter and vengeful, and she doesn't hesitate to tell readers: I have no friends. I don't want any friends. I'm fine by myself. I am cradled by hate and fury

About the Author

Francesca Simon

Francesca Simon was born in St Louis, Missouri, grew up in California, and attended both Yale and Oxford Universities, where she specialised in Medieval Studies.

If you'd like to know a bit more about Horrid Henry click here to read a letter from the author.

Author photo © Francesco Guidicini

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Book Info

Format

Paperback
304 pages

Author

Francesca Simon
More books by Francesca Simon

Author's Website

www.francescasimon.com/

Publisher

Faber & Faber

Publication date

5th January 2017

ISBN

9780571330270

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