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Chris Blocker

Literary snobbery and other thoughts by Chris Blocker

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Review: Monstress

Monstress - Lysley Tenorio

I have an aversion to rating short story collections. Some collections aren’t that hard to rate, because all the stories are equally good or bad. Then there are collections where the stories are all over the place, and how do you rate that? Do you go with the best? The overall? It’s like watching all the Star Trek films ever made and having to rate them as one. Not an easy task. And then, how will others interpret your score? Will they ignore a great series because a crap film like Nemesis drastically brought down the rating?


The problem is, I’ve started this review all wrong, because I’ve used words like “bad” and “crap” and the reader may already have it in his/her mind that there must be some crap stories in this collection. Far from it. Every single story in Monstress is good. But then there are some that are great. In fact, the collection starts with three phenomenal stories that are among the best I’ve read in some time. The remaining stories are all really quite good, but they’re not great, so when you see those four stars attached to this review, know I don’t give that fifth star with some reluctance.


Now I’m three paragraphs in and I still haven’t sold anyone on reading this book. So all these stories are touching and slightly quirky. They’re original tales full of inventive characters. Regardless of what is going on in the background, I think it’s the characters who stand out the most; they’re so unique but wholly human. There’s considerable heart and passion behind this collection, and I look forward to reading more from Tenorio.


If I haven’t sold you yet, just give it three stories. Maybe the first three, because they were the ones I personally enjoyed the most. Or maybe any other three. Perhaps whatever three stories you chose to read first in this collection will be the best. It may just be that once the bar is set so high, it’s hard for the remaining stories to compete. I stick behind my four stars, but with noted hesitation.