PrintE-mail Written by Sophie Atherton


The Monster Hunter is the story of Benjamin Jackson Gaul, an eleven-year-old boy whose world is turned upside down by the sudden death of his mother. She is murdered by a mysterious creature causing Ben to leave his native Ceylon in search of a new life in Victorian England. But all is not what it seems when he reaches the orphanage in Kent as he hears of strange creatures lurking in the countryside and soon the children come down with a strange illness which is not as simple as it first seems. With the help from local gypsy girl Rosalie and the orphanage’s new Governess, Nanny Belle, Ben must solve the children’s illness before it claims any more of their lives and face his fears in the monsters that are on his doorstep.

The book opens with the murder of Ben’s mother and it quickly becomes clear that in this mysterious but monstrous universe the things that go bump in the night are something more horrifying than could be imagined. It would have enhanced the narrative to have sketches of them in the relevant chapters, as it’s hard to picture the monsters featured at times, but this didn’t take away from the momentum of the story. Similarly, the cover to the book is initially off-putting, albeit relevant to the narrative, and may put off some readers. If this is surpassed, and it isn’t literally judged by its cover, they will be rewarded and drawn in to a vastly enjoyable story. Additionally, the fact that the book is only 189 pages long and is a simplistic story makes it an excellent introduction to the genre for any reader, but it seems to target a younger audience.

The Monster Hunter has no deep political agenda, nor does it have a great deal to say about the state of society, but it’s still a compelling read. Ben’s isolation throughout the narrative is relatable and emotive, and when he meets a kindred spirit in Rosalie, it is uplifting. The cryptic nature of Ben’s background regarding his father, and to some extent his mother, and then the unexpected reappearance of his absent father in the closing chapter of the book is intriguing. Overall, the novel is very well written, and as such should prompt readers to purchase Kit Cox’s first novel, How to Bag a Jabberwock in a view to read further into the universe he has benevolently created. We’re sure this won’t be the only adventure that Ben Gaul finds himself on, as the ending certainly leaves the reader wanting.

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