Title: The Boy Who Hatched Monsters
Author: T.C. Shelley
Published: 29th March 2022
Synopsis: Sam’s life has always been strange. After all, his family have no idea that he’s half monster, half fairy.
But now he’s keeping an even bigger secret. He alone has the power to bring monsters to life! (He’s even got a tiny gargoyle hatchling hidden in his sock drawer.)
When Queen Maggie finds out, she’s delighted. She wants Sam to create her a whole new legion of vile ogres.
When he refuses, she vows that she will destroy everything Sam holds dear. And so the stage is set for a final battle, one that will determine not just Sam’s future, but that of the whole of monsterkind …
The conclusion to T.C. Shelley’s magical fantasy trilogy is perfect for fans of Jennifer Bell, Sophie Anderson and Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
Sam and his friends, Bladder, Wheedle, Spigot, and the werewolf pups Amira, Wilfred, and Hazel are back, and ready for the final battle against Queen Maggie. Sam has hatched a new gargoyle – Nugget – and Queen Maggie knows. This is her chance – to use Sam to create an army of vile ogres. But she doesn’t bank on the humanity and fairy magic within Sam, and how these will impact the monsters that he creates and what it will mean for the kind of monsters they are. And when Sam refuses her offer, he and his friends are thrust into the final battle that will decide their future and the future of monsters – for the rest of time.
The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Monster Who Wasn’t is finally here, and we are coming to the end of Sam’s journey, where he will hopefully learn to embrace the fairy, human, and monster parts of himself, and face the world with his friends and family as they all start to navigate a new world where humans and monsters are starting to come together. In a world where it all seems impossible, it will be up to Sam, Wheedle, Daniel, Spigot, Bladder and his other friends to find out what Maggie is up to and how she’s changing everyone. The novel builds up to this carefully, at the same time as throwing us into the action and showing Sam’s continued discomfort and unease in his new family. His unease is written beautifully, and captures a sense of wanting to belong, yet at the same time, feeling like you don’t belong. This is something we all feel at times in different relationships, so it realistically gives the reader of any age a chance to explore those feelings with Sam, even though they may manifest in different ways for everyone.
This is an action-packed book, but it’s one that has its quieter moments, and allows the characters to work out their next step and work out what they’re doing as they go along. Nobody has all the answers, not even Maggie, who thinks she can change everything, so it suits her. It shows that sometimes having a small group of good friends to help you is better than a large army, and illustrates that loyalty and trust is earned, not given, as Maggie expects it to be. It is a fun book as well, playing with well-known monster and magical tropes in new ways that make it an exciting and modern story with a very reluctant hero stuck between two worlds. This seems to be a staple in kids’ books, especially middle grade and young adult, yet I love the way each author using this trope explores it differently and creates their own world and mythology around it. The way the authors engage with tropes can really make a novel, and I feel that when they do it well or invert the tropes, creating something new yet familiar, it makes for a fantastic read that is exciting and comforting.
This trilogy sits somewhere between the quiet books that I’ve been enjoying during the past two years – the ones that tackle small issues and not a huge battle – and the larger, louder books and series with a saga-like battle or conflict. Sometimes we need these books as a bridge as readers – to get us from the quiet books to the loud books, as a transition. Whilst the quieter books allow us a sense of calm in a world that seems to be getting out of control, these bridging books – with calm moments and action allow the reader – allow me – to find a way to come to terms with things, which can then lead to being able to read the higher stakes books. The Boy Who Hatched Monsters is one of those bridging books, and I hope that fans of the previous two books will enjoy it and the thrilling conclusion to this fabulous trilogy that brings so many threads of mythology and monster tales together in a new and unique way.