Title: The Monster of Selkirk, Book One
Author: C.E. Clayton
Publisher: DevilDog Press, 2017 (April 18)
Genre: YA Fantasy
**I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review**
I have to give credit where credit is due…when I agreed to review this book, I didn’t know the cover was so cool. Honestly, you know a lot of indie titles have some cringe-worthy covers…well, this is amazing, tbh. It captures everything in the story without giving away anything throughout the story.
I’m going to be completely honest here: I had forgotten about this title until the author emailed me and asked about my progress. With the move and then my mom getting laid off (yup, that’s right: the trip to Florida is off bc they let her go three days before she was to start there bc “there isn’t any business…can you imagine what would’ve happened to us if we had moved everything to Florida and then she got laid off?) I haven’t been keeping track of my dates…but I digress. As usual.
I’m so glad Clayton emailed me, because this book was so different than what I’m used to. There’s also another to be released and I can’t wait to read it.
I’m telling you, indies are blowing thr reg books out of the water!
Let me get to it, and you can tell me what you think:
The book goes chronologically and is told from an Omniscient POV, which was hard to get used to at first, but Clayton does it well. We are brought in during a “Clearing” – a ritual killing of tremps (basically elves that aren’t cute anymore…they’ve gone mad and feral). During this Clearing, a baby gets left behind in the woods…
A woman comes to scavenge the remains of the battle and stumbles across a baby: she is barren but has always wanted a child, so when she finds an abandoned baby girl in the forest, she is thrilled. She takes her home to her husband, a man that’s not exactly happy about raising another’s child. But he wants his wife’s happiness, and she names the girl Tallis.
We see Tallis grow up. She is different than the other children: she is faster and plays like a boy. Her “mother” loves her but her “father” begins to get jealous of Tallis, who steals his wife’s attention…and he grows resentful. Tallis is fair and Noble in appearance, while others around are plain and not bred into beauty, so Tallis gets stared at. The only one willing to spend time with Tallis is her cousin, Donovan. He loves Tallis like a sister and protects her from harm.
As Tallis continues to grow, she notices the stares and feels left out. All she really has is Donovan…and the books in the monastery at night. She is afraid of one day standing at the Bride Block: a place where unmarried women are sold like cattle. It’s a horrifying scene and it reminds Tallis that she must do everything she can to prove her worth and never end up for auction.
When her father asks Tallis to watch her mother during a scavenge, as he is unable to go, she knows she must come back with her mom or face losing the only home she has. However, tremps ambush the two of them and Tallis must go back to her father with her mother’s corpse. There is one thing she doesn’t mention to her father, knowing that it’s as strange as it sounds…
The tremps don’t talk (they never have as a barbaric race)…but they said one word over and over:
When Tallis realizes she’s not her mother and father’s biological child, she readies herself to find answers…why did the tremps stay behind and kill her mother? Why have they been becoming more aggressive? And where does she fit into all of this?
Why did they say her name?
With a band of friends, Tallis goes looking for answers, but hot on her heels are the tremps…and the townsfolk that know all about the only name they continue to whisper….”Tallis.”
She is wanted…by humans and elves both.
Is It Classroom-Appropriate?
Yes and no…there’s nothing keeping it out of the classroom: no racy business, no swear words, nothing like that. But I have a hard time picturing a lesson plan use for this book. This is more of a Tolkien-esque read: it’s Epic fantasy for sure, spread out over a period of time. It takes a minute to get involved but once you’re involved, you’re INVOLVED. I found it impossible to break away sometimes. I stayed up late to read until I fell asleep sitting up. It was addicting and the writing was so good.
I’d recommend it for outside reading for students who are fans of Tolkien/Galbadon/Martin (bear in mind I’ve never read their work, but with the level of detail and world-building, it’s high fantasy for young adults. So I give The Monster of Selkirk ★★★☆☆ for classroom use, which equals:
Now this isn’t going to be on Lexile. It’s just not. So I’m going with my gut here for age range. I would recommend 13 and up, and ensure that the reader is ambitious and dedicated. This is such a rewarding read, but it’s not really one for a reluctant reader. They might feel overwhelmed with the build up and the exposition. This is great for older YA readers. I know I enjoyed it a lot. It carries some romance but not the kind of romance where it’s the end of the world and the couple isn’t paying attention. This is romance is brief glimpses because, hello, they are being chased by evil elves! I don’t think a candlelight dinner would work while you’re being hunted, just sayin,
O. M. G. THIS WAS SO GOOD. It has stuck with me for several days (I finished it days ago and I still cannot stop wondering what is going to happen next! Here’s the cover for the second book and I love it so much!
So awesome. Awesome.
Anyway, I read this after Black Dawn and before Hunted, and I still can’t get over it. This book sticks with you. You get to know every character intimately bc of the Omniscient POV, and it ends on an insanely good cliffhanger. Well, not so much a cliffhanger as one of those “Dun dun dun” moments. You know?
Funny, because one The Valiant got five stars for classroom use and three stars overall…and this book gets three stars for classroom use and five stars overall…it’s just how it works, bloggerinis! Sometimes a book can be awesome and just not fit into the curriculum, and sometimes a book fits the curriculum perfectly but isn’t quite as awesome of a read. I loved this book, and I can see many YA readers enjoying it as well.
Hopefully as much as I did!
What’s your next book adventure? Mine is writing more reviews bc I’m super-behind!