YA Review: We Shall be Monsters (Tara Sim)

About This Book:

Frankenstein meets Indian mythology in this twisty, darkly atmospheric fantasy where the real horrors are not the monsters you face, but the ones you create.

“One of the most unique and intelligent books I’ve read. . . Alluring, completely enthralling, and masterfully rendered.” —Axie Oh, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Kajal knows she is not a good person. If she were, she wouldn’t selfishly be risking her sister’s soul in a dangerous bid to bring her back to life. She would let Lasya rest in peace—but Kajal cannot stand the horror of living without her.

As Kajal prepares for the resurrection, the worst happens: Her sister’s soul warps into a bhuta—a murderous, wraith-like spirit—and Kajal gets sentenced to death for her sister’s rampage. There seems little hope of escape until two strangers offer to free her. The catch: She must resurrect the kingdom’s fallen crown prince to aid a growing rebellion against a tyrannical usurper. Desperate, Kajal rushes to complete her end of the deal . . . only to discover that the boy she’s resurrected, Tav, is not the crown prince.

Now Kajal—prickly, proud, admirer of the scientific method—must team up with Tav—stubborn, reticent, and fonder of swords than of books—to find the real crown prince. With only a scalpel and her undead dog, Kutaa, at her side, Kajal must work fast before her mistake is exposed or Lasya’s bhuta turns its murderous fury on the person truly responsible for her death: Kajal herself.

 

*Review Contributed by Lillian McCurry, Indie Manager & Staff Reviewer*

I devoured this one! We Shall Be Monsters by Tara Sim is a YA fantasy steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The story begins with the death of Kajal’s sister Lasya. Kajal vows to bring her back, but to do so means breaking tradition and burying her body instead of burning it. Kajal works tirelessly to get the ingredients she needs to reincarnate her sister, however during this time Lasya’s soul becomes a bhuta, a wraith-like demon who feeds on the fear of others. With each kill, the bhuta becomes stronger, and the chances of Lasya coming back weaker. Blamed for the bhuta’s murders, Kajal is condemned as a witch. Awaiting trial, she is given a choice by two strangers who offer to free her in exchange for her help resurrecting the crown prince. Two challenges present themselves: Lasya’s bhuta and the wrong prince.

Kajal is a great character to follow. Most of this story is told from her perspective. She is grieving the loss of her sister and angry at the world for allowing it to happen. She’s rash and cunning, but also methodical in her science. Her pursuits of knowledge has led her to be accused of being a witch more than once, however this last time would have cost not just her life but the soul of her sister. Back into a figurative corner, she joins the two strangers who turn out to be rebels looking to restore the crown prince to the throne and remove the usurper who took over around the time Kajal was born.

I found the world-building in this one to be so fascinating! I loved how the author took some well-known Hindu/Indian mythology and blended it to make her own story. It added an element of magic and fantasy to the story. Kajal’s own knowledge of Ayurvedic techniques blended with herbal medicine made the resurrections feel more plausible like they could actually happen. And I LOVED Tav. His relationship with Kajal is tenuous at best, but I loved how they worked together to protect one another and search for the real crown prince. Lasya’s story is also just as fascinating, and the heartbreak Kajal feels over losing her bleeds off the pages.

Overall, I really enjoyed We Shall Be Monsters. This Frankenstein-like tale blends Indian folklore into a new story filled with adventure, mystery and a little romance. The only downside is that I have to wait for the conclusion in book two. If you are a fan of YA fantasy, I highly recommend it.

Audiobook Note: I had an advanced listening copy available from Listening Library and alternated between reading and listening. I adored the narrator Deepti Gupta. She added so much to the story with her subtle inflections and change in tone. Her accent took me right into the story as if it was being told to me by Kajal. If you are an audiobook lover, I highly recommend this one.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

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