Class Book Review: The Monster Who Wasn't

T C Shelley's The Monster Who Wasn't brings to life a wonderful world of monsters that aren't always what they seem

Amy Neale

Class book review: The Monster Who Wasn't by TC Shelley

The Monster Who Wasn't 

Author: TC Shelley
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Details: 277 pages; £6.99
ISBN: 9781526600820

I found TC Shelley’s The Monster Who Wasn't intriguing. The cover was inviting, the gargoyles added to the suspense, and, immediately, I wanted to know what this story was about. At first glance, I thought it would be about gargoyles coming to life, but, honestly, I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Shelley’s writing means that, as a reader, you don’t have to work hard to imagine the characters and the world she creates. Although, at times, the in-depth development of scenes can make the flow of the book slow down a little. 

The story starts with the birth of a monster – the creation of a baby’s first laugh and a man’s last sigh. The monster begins by discussing his life living among the gargoyles. One day, he transforms into a boy named Samuel and embarks on a voyage of discovery. As Samuel experiences the world around him through a human’s eyes, the readers are taken on a journey of new, but familiar experiences. It’s an interesting perspective to explore and Shelley’s narrative implies that this may be how an alien might view our world. There’s a moment in the book where Samuel is in a shop, and he refers to the credit card being used as a "little bit of plastic". Moments like this make you consider how odd our world may seem to those new to it. 

This book requires a certain amount of perseverance and it’s definitely one for someone who has plenty of it. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who is new to chapter books, but if you like mythical stories with lots of twists and turns then this is definitely worth a try. 

Amy Neale is a Year 3 student teacher based in Kent

Pupil reviews

I liked the fact that an imp was made from a man’s last sigh and a baby’s first laugh. I like that there was a monster world and human world. I like monsters, so for me this book was good but someone who doesn’t like them might not enjoy it. There is a lot of description in the book which was hard to read sometimes, as it took ages.  

George H, age 9

I like that the character was human and monster merged together. It was mythical and realistic all in one book. To be honest, I didn’t really get into a flow of the book because it was hard to read and a bit complicated. Normally I can get into a flow and just want to read it all the time but this one wasn’t like that. It would have been even better if there had been some pictures. 

Allegra H, age 9

I liked it when the imp Samuel found Bladder’s heart because they said it was beautiful like a gem. I also like how at the end you sort of found all the missing pieces and everything started to make sense. This kept the suspense going. I disagree with Allegra and Nicole, I think no pictures helps you to use your imagination. I also liked the twist at the end, but I won’t say what it was in case I spoil it. 

Kyla A, age 9

I enjoyed the fact that it had lots of interesting vocabulary and adjectives to describe everything. I also like how it said that the boy studied the faces when he was looking at other creatures and that the writer described this really well. It would have been even better if it had pictures so we can see all the settings. I would recommend this book to everyone that likes monsters. 

Nicole B, age 8

I found this book quite hard to read because it is really wordy and the author spent a lot of time describing things. I would recommend this book to a friend, but one that likes reading a lot as it might take them a while to read. 

Henry B, age 9

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