Ordinary Monsters is Charles Dickens meets X-Men.
This massive book (at 672 pages) is set in Victorian England, as well as Scotland, Tokyo, Mississippi, and other places, in the late 1880s. It follows magical children called talents who can manipulate flesh in different ways. It’s the job of a woman detective named Alice Quike and a man named Frank Coulton to find the children and bring them to Cairndale, an institute in Scotland–before the kids are caught by the man of smoke who’s hunting them.
This book is crazy. There are many, many POVs, including Alice, Frank, and a slew of children including two main characters, kids named Marlowe and Charlie.
The beginning of this book details the beginning of all of the kids’ lives. The kids all have something in common: they’re orphans. And most of them have struggled to survive and have faced discrimination and cruelty.
On top of the many perspectives, the book also bounces back and forth between timelines.
The historical fiction aspect of the story is written extremely well. I could picture the sooty, grimy streets of London and the other cities. The characters also all speak distinctively; Miro does utilize dialects for several. Even though I’m not usually a fan of that, it does fit very well with the Dickenson feel of the book. The settings and time period also fit well with the depressing and dark nature of the story.
I’m honestly not sure how to rate this book. I did really enjoy the writing style, and despite the massive amount of POVs, I was interested in every character. The fight and action scenes were also written well. I loved Marlowe and Charlie’s characters the most.
Yet, I felt like the backstories could have been cut in half and I would’ve understood them just as well. Despite the copious amount of worldbuilding and character building, I was still a little confused about several aspects. Character motivations were muddled or often revealed late in the story (which was on purpose, sure, but sometimes didn’t work well for me). There was also a trope in the epilogue that I’m not a fan of.
That being said, if you like sweeping historical fantasies, I still think it’s worth a read! There were so many good scenes and the characters are all well-rounded.