Source: Netgalley, thank you to the publisher
TL;DR: That’s going to be a no from me boss.
Plot: All over the place
Characters: Three women who all end up feeling very similar
Setting: Not important in the least
Magic: I mean, it’s a eldritch horror apocalypse but as far as ‘magic’ goes it’s vague and predictable in style.
CWs: Pretty much all of them – just be okay with that going in.
Sister, Maiden, Monster is an apocalypse story told from three points of view – the three views changing between the three title Roles in different ways. Sister, maiden, and monster. Each woman gives us the next step in the apocalypse as it is brought about by a virus that spreads and transforms those it infects. This virus evolves the women, preparing them for each of their roles to the ultimate doom of the earth. Fantastic idea right?
The structure on this is fantastic. I loved how it was setup, I loved the pace of the book. The division between character viewpoints was well place and handled for me. This book, for the most part was paced fantastically. I gobbled it up over the course of a day and barely noticed the time I spent in it in fact. This was added by the atmosphere which felt appropriately heavy and dark. It was grim and tense but not in a strangling fashion that these stories often have. Some of the moments and ideas here were pure gold, and I loved those.
Rather unfortunately though those were few and far between. For the most part the characters felt a bit flat, only taking on their distinct shapes when outside the view point. Everyone’s internal monologue felt very similar (as each view is first person). Added to this very same-ness of view point was the heavy handedness of the themes and messages here. While I definitely agree with so much the author was saying, there comes a point at which even I have to say ‘calm down’. I can enjoy ice cream but when you shovel it at me non-stop I’m gonna not want to eat it. What should have been nuanced moments, things that the reader should have sat back and said ‘wow’ were instead big paragraphs of teaching moments as the character tells you exactly why what she did was impactful and why we should feel uncomfortable.
There were a couple of lines and moments referencing childbirth and birth control that from personal experience I know are very incorrect. This made those moments feel very off and honestly off-putting, and threw me out of the story. With the complete unraveling of the story by the end, and the reliance on the very predictable ‘octopus/eldritch horror’ path I didn’t really enjoy my time with this one. Some readers are definitely going to get the bang for their buck but I definitely do not think this is for everyone.
2 disgruntled tentacles out of 5
As a note – there was a particular character, Gregory, that I felt was handled badly. I am still organizing my thoughts on that. But as someone who does relate to what Gregory seemed to be dealing with I feel… not upset but disappointed by their use in the story? It just felt like they were used as a checkbox and then disposed off. The longer it sits with me the more uncomfortable I am.
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