Monster by C.J. Skuse

patchworkbunny's review

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I love a good boarding school setting and the addition of a Beast of Dartmoor style myth made Monster sound right up my street. Out of all of Britain’s myths, the one I’m mostly likely to believe is that there’s big cats living wild on some of our moors. I found it an easy and perfectly enjoyable read but it just didn’t excel at anything.

It was a little lacking in tension and wasn’t particularly scary. It takes a long time to get going, setting up the reason for Nash being left at school over Christmas and introducing the cast. Yet this time isn’t really spent building up suspicion. I felt her brother’s disappearance should have had more relevance. It was quite built up to be just used as the reason for her being there.

Throughout the text different characters are described as being monsters, showing there are different ways to be one. People can be worse than any beast lurking in the darkness. However this wasn’t really expanded upon. Nash has these moments where her rage overtakes her but there’s just no follow-up. I’m not sure if the ending was leading up to a sequel but I very much wanted it to be a standalone, with all the threads considered, if not tied up.

I liked the Devon setting. Bathory is a fictional place but it is clearly modelled on the type of small tourist town on the edges of Dartmoor. There’s not a lot to do out of season and they thrive on the legends of the area. I’m not entirely sure Nash’s date was required for the plot but I actually really enjoyed reading about the town.

Review copy provided by publisher.

pewterwolf's review

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I can't decide to give this 2 stars or 3.

EDIT: Review Taken from The Pewter Wolf & Bookish Brits

Nash thinks fighting to become Head Girl at boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle of her life. But that was before her brother vanishes. That's before she's left trapped in the school with some other students - a mix of misfits. That's before the snow storms hit, leaving them trapped. That was before the only adult looking after them vanishes without a trace. That's before fear of The Beast of Bathory begins to grip them...

Something dark is outside the school, wanting to come in. Or is the thing the girls fear already within the walls of the school...

Ok, am going to be honest with you. I am very torn over it. I didn't enjoy it as much as I hoped, but there are good points to this book.

Let's deal with the good points first. When we were first told about this book, it was sold using the tapeline "Malory Towers meets I Know What You Did Last Summer". And this does work. If you are a fan of Lois Duncan's I Know What You Did Last Summer or James Dawson's Cruel Summer, this would work for you. It has a gentle hints of boarding school drama and mythology but as the story moves forward, it slowly turns darker and tense. And I really liked the writing style. The writing is one of the weird reasons I read this story.

However, I have problems that I am wondering if am about to fall into a reading slump and wondering if I am being harsh with this. But... ok... here's the thing... it never grabbed me. I liked the writing, yes, but there are other factions to making a story work. I don't know why, but I thought this was very slow - if you're going to say the Marton goes missing on the back, it should happen quite quickly, right? Nope. It happens around the halfway point. And when there were plot twists, it felt like there was no clues to lead us to this point. Or, if there was, it was so subtle, you missed it (and if this is the case, CJ works this brilliantly).

I think my main problem is that I never cared. I never cared that this characters were in danger, nor did I feel that these characters were in mortal peril. I never cared for any of the characters so I never worried about them. I need to care for characters in whatever situation they find themselves in, whether it's a love situation, a family situation or a life-or-death situation.

While I think some of you guys will like it and find it the perfect Winter chiller, it just wasn't for me, I'm afraid.

mehsi's review

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5+ Stars. This book really exceeded all my expectations. This one is magnificent, will give one goosebumps, will amaze people.

Welcome to the prestigious boarding school Bathory, which is (just like a lot of boarding schools) located in the middle of nowhere. Really, in the middle of nowhere, especially in the winter, when snow, storms, ice, will make roads unbelievably hard to cross. Which, believe me, with stuff that is going on in this book, isn't something you would want, at all.

Because there is a lot of stuff happening. The book kicks off right with the beast that lurks outside of the boarding school. Our main character, Nash, spots it during her training. Of course she is more curious than scared of it. Unlike everyone else who are absolutely terrified of the beast. The beast is a legend that has been going around for a long time, a legend that started when the school wasn't even a school. As you can imagine the beast creeped me out, but I was also really curious. Was the beast that bad? Was the beast truly that, a beast? Was it supernatural? Or just a big cat that is hunting for nom noms in the winter?
As the story progresses and we find out about the beast, about what it might be, about what it might do, I was getting more and more fascinated with it. The conclusion on the beast topic was really great and I was just cheering. I was right! I was right all along. :D

But the girls will have bigger fish to fry than just a big beast. We quickly find that out, as the book goes from boarding school + hints of romance + hints of drama to full-blown horror with blizzards and scary things happening outside. And the scary things that happened around the middle/end, wow, just wow. I never saw that one coming, at all. I won't spoil anything, of course, I want people to be surprised by what comes, but really, wow. That was just amazing and oh so creepy. I had goosebumps all over my body and I was just reading as fast as I could so I could find out how it ended.

There are various characters, from tiny little Tabitha to is-she-crazy-or-not Regan. I didn't like all of the characters. Dianna was particularly annoying and frustrating, and then we have Clarice, who I truly disliked. How she acted around kids, it was just disturbing, and I wanted to just lock her up and never let her come out again.
Maggie was truly my favourite character out of the side characters. She kicked ass, she wasn't afraid to tell what is up, and I just loved her antics. She was also truly a friend to our girl Nash.

Because poor poor Nash, her life isn't the easiest with all that happens in this book, her brother disappears in South-America, she is busy with running for Head Girl, she has countless of little jobs to do around the boarding school, and so so much more. At times I just wanted to hug the girl and tell her to just let it go for a bit. To just relax and enjoy her teenage years.
As the story continues she is one of the few who keeps her head in the right place. She kicks total ass and I loved her so much near the end. Though of course, I also felt really sorry for her. With the way the book ended.

The book is a real page-turner. Especially during the darker moments.

I also did like the romance in this one. It didn't feel out of place (I was a bit worried about that), instead it only added to the greatness.

Of course, now that I read the book, and looked back, I can see that there were hints here and there. Scattered like little crumbs. But you really have had to read the book to see them. Only now I see them, before I didn't have a clue. And I am happy with that. I know I don't always mind if the mystery is easy to guess, but with this book the element of surprise is just needed.

Would I recommend this book? Um, yes, hell yes! Are you looking for a dark boarding school story? Be sure to check this one out. :D

Review first posted at

duartepatri's review

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What I like the most about c
C.J. Skuse is that you never know what it will be like...I mean, you know it will be good, that's a given, but it can be either insightful, it can be packed with sarcasm, it can be anything, she delivers serial killers and endearing characters alike. So, every time I come across one of her books I just buy them and then I see what genre it is.
In this case Monster was a well knitted thread that takes you places, dark ones, warm ones and most of all, surprising twists and plots that have you turning pages till the very last line.

ashleighmacro's review

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Monster is a frightening thriller that’ll scare you silly, but it’s not without flaws.

Originally posted on my blog Ashleigh Online

I love reading something scary from time to time, so I was looking forward to picking up C. J. Skuse’s Monster. With a boarding school setting and a frightening myth to propel the story forward, Monster will have you on the edge of your seat for the most part, but it does have its flaws.

Monster does get off to a slow start, but the second half of the book with its nail-biting tension makes up for it somewhat. One big downfall of Monster is the characters, though. To start with I was excited to see an interesting mix of personalities but those personalities are a quite overshadowed by the obsession with boys (and really, really bad boys at that) and their mean spirit towards each other.

Then there were the endless questions I had about why on earth they were still stuck in the school towards the end. Surely they could have figured out a way to escape it!?

And finally there was the underlying story about Nash’s brother, which I assumed would lead to something quite big in the end but actually it was the author’s way of giving Nash a reason to stay in the boarding school and therefore become trapped there.

Despite its flaws, I did find Monster entertaining and if thrillers are your thing it’s worth picking up, just don’t expect to be completely blown away and be prepared for some unanswered questions.

faemorgan's review

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When I first read the blurb of this book, I thought it about actual beast and monsters, like a very bad haunting inside the boarding school where the book is set; that could kill you both inside the school and outside. As I read the lines “There are things out there, real things that we need to worry about. There are your beasts, there are your monsters…” and “As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s dark, dangerous hallways.”

Getting into the book, we are introduced to the main character Nash, who is dealing with the crisis of a missing brother and the stressing drama of everyone knowing, fighting to be Head Girl and beef of school bully; Clarice. As a result of Clarice pushing the bullying of Nash’s missing brother too far after she’s shown up by Nash; the title of Head Girl is passed on to someone else. What’s worst is that Nash has started seeing this creature in the trees of the school, which Regan another unpopular girl is convinced it’s the Bathory Beast.

The story is set around the all-girls boarding school, Bathory to which a group of girls are stuck in the school for the Christmas Holiday’s until their parents arrive to collect them. Things begin to get really strange and dangerous, with some girls keeping secrets, a storm outside, their caretaker teacher missing and the phone no longer working. They have to try and survive until someone arrives, but they’re unsure exactly what they are surviving.

My favourite character is Nash because she is a relatable character with the many pressures of trying to be the perfect girl and yourself in a full school of girls. She’s level-headed, but still acts how you’d expect a teenager to react in the situation that she’s in and does her best to push the fear of an actual beast to protect the Pup, Tabby against Clarice and her friends in the school.

I would recommend the book, the tension mixed with the sass and comedy are amazing. The plot twist of who/ what the danger actually is in the story immediately hooks you more to the story and the heart-warming reunion at the end of the book, with the slight sense of mystery still around the legend of the Beast of Bathory, where only two girls know the actual truth of what the beast is. In total, I would rate this book 4 stars.

jesscelliott's review against another edition

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A very readable YA thriller that kept me guessing til the end.

At first, this book felt a little like it was trying to do too much at once - disappearances, monsters, high school drama, boarding school - but if you can get over that, there's an exciting, dark horror story here.

Fans of the thriller/horror genres will eat this up, as will any YA fan who fancies something a bit fun and a bit different!

kerryppayne's review

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May Contain Spoilers

”Little pig, little pig, let me come in.’”

Monster follows the story of Nash, stuck at her boarding school over Christmas while her parents search for her missing brother; surrounded by people she wasn’t fond of. A storm rages, and suddenly the legend of the Beast and Bathory doesn’t seem quite so fictional; mysterious things appear, sounds that the girls left at the school can’t explain, and then theres the worry that their matron has gone missing.

I’m going to start off with the fact that Monster didn’t grip me right at the start, it was a slow burner, but when the story really got going it did get interesting. I think that the beast wasn’t as scary as I had hoped, I expected scary, edge of my seat moments, and unfortunately I didn’t get that with this book.

The beast wasn’t the legend that stalked the woods around the school; in fact it was a human that the girls really had to be scared of. The book felt to be in two parts for me, the part where there is the genuine threat of a legendary beast waiting to pounce at first opportunity, and the second where it turned dark and looked at the real threat of a person who wants to hurt you. The two parts didn’t feel connected to me, in fact, it felt like the only real link was the characters. I think if the book didn’t give an identify to the beast, it would have worked better. I had an image of this beast pretty quickly, and it didn’t scare me. The second half, where the danger was a person, was much more real to me, and I wished it would have got to this point quicker.

I did really enjoy the twist at the end, where you expected it to be one person, only for it to switch and be someone you wouldn’t have guessed. But I also think thats where it fell short again, I couldn’t really guess it, and I wish there had been more clues to the ending through the book. I also loved the description of the boarding school and the way the use of these secret passages was used towards the end.

C.J Skuse is a fantastic writer, and if it wasn’t for their writing, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the book as much as I eventually did. I loved the concept but I wanted it to be scarier.

castspells's review

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adventurous dark emotional reflective tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


girlreading's review against another edition

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I love a thriller that keeps me guessing and Monster did exactly that.
Yes, I did guess the eventual outcome pretty early but despite that, there wasn't a moment where I didn't have a question about something or another and that's so much fun to read. I thought the characters in this were great and the setting was perfect for the story. It has some really chilling moments and definitely kept me turning the pages! There were a few points which I wasn't a fan of, a sixteen/seventeen year old sleeping with a twenty two year old convicted murderer being one of them?! But overall Monster was thrilling, dark, atmospheric and a great read.