Monstrilio by Gerardo Samano Cordova starred book review
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STARRED Book Review: Monstrilio

MONSTRILIO by Gerardo Sámano Córdova is a magically different approach to grief and loss to question the very essence of what it is to be human. Check out what Akram Herrak has to say in his book review of this Zando novel.


by Gerardo Sámano Córdova

Genre: Literary Fiction / Horror

ISBN: 978-1638930365

Print Length: 336 pages

Publisher: Zando

Reviewed by Akram Herrak

Content Warnings: Death of a child

A magically unique approach to grief and loss that questions the very essence of what it is to be human

I can’t remember the last time an opening chapter hooked me the way that Monstrilio has. For a debut novel, Gerardo writes with the potency of a master, painting an image that takes feelings of genuine sadness and morphs it into a very disturbing situation. I read those first few pages with watery eyes and a grimace on my face, and from that moment on, I couldn’t put the book down.

This genre-bender takes an incredibly sad tale of loss and grief and coats it in surrealism and horror, and the result is one of the most original and fascinating novels you’ll read this year. 

The story opens with a child’s death. As Santiago’s parents lay beside him in his dying bed, we experience the situation through the eyes of his mother, Magos, who seems to be reacting a little coldly in that context, her mind and thoughts on things more trivial than her son’s death. She then proceeds to split her son open and cut out a piece of his lung, saying she wants to keep it as a memento, to the horror of her husband. This act proves to have serious repercussions on their marriage and she leaves their house in New York to go back to her mother’s house in Mexico. 

The maid tells her a fairy tale in her village of how a woman fed a young girl’s heart until it grew into a person, but she also tells her that brought down a curse on her, and while both of them think it to be merely a story, the maid still warns her not to feed the lung.

Of course, she does exactly that. To everyone’s horror, the lung starts growing into a thing with life, and becomes the center of attention of four characters that each tell their story and perspective of the strange events that unfold. 

Monstrilio is essentially a dive into how loss and grief, here portrayed in one of its most cruel forms, which is the death of a child, can affect loved ones in different ways. And by different here, I mean really different.

In a surreal story that blends the tragic with horror, we witness as even a monster can instill feelings of family and bonding in a family that has recently suffered such an event. Different perspectives in different sections of the book offer a peek into how each of them deals with a situation that constantly changes between sad and morbid; different levels of acceptance, grief, and hope make the novel’s cast extremely fascinating, offering their own views as well as their views on the others. 

This beautiful novel first caught my attention with its unique and original premise, then it proceeded to hook me with its opening chapter, and it kept me turning its pages in complete and utter fascination. An amazing read. Don’t miss it.

Thank you for reading Akram Herrak’s book review of Monstrilio by Gerardo Sámano Córdova! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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