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2811196,018 (3.74)10
A "wholly unique" and "uncompromising" literary horror debut about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes (Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes) Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago's lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family's decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses--though curbed by his biological and chosen family's communal care--threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life. A thought-provoking meditation on grief, acceptance, and the monstrous sides of love and loyalty, Gerardo Sámano Córdova blends bold imagination and evocative prose with deep emotional rigor. Told in four acts that span the globe from Brooklyn to Berlin, Monstrilio offers, with uncanny clarity, a cathartic and precise portrait of being human.… (more)
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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
A very different sort of Bildungsroman. Monstrilio is about trying to find where you fit in and about unconditional love. I don’t think I’d put this in the horror genre at all, although some horrible things do happen, as they do in many novels. I’m not sure fantasy or magical realism is right either—maybe monstrous realism? In any case, it’s a very moving story about grief and acceptance, about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and ultimately accepting that it won’t fit and finding ways to accommodate and love it despite—or even for—its squareness. ( )
  Charon07 | Jun 9, 2024 |
2.75
So this just wasn’t really for me.
It swayed from grief into kinky sex stuff which was a weird vibe with the whole dead-kid-lung-cannibal-monster thing happening.
Just didn’t connect to any of the characters or really feel anything. ( )
  spiritedstardust | Jun 1, 2024 |
Tragic and sometimes gross exploration of family and identity. ( )
  Kiramke | May 27, 2024 |
I love these types of books -- heartfelt, a mixbag of a bunch of things. Meanings that could be a bunch of things. Not so much horror as horrifying. A book that will live in my brain, more and more as time expands. Weird and gets weirder as the story expands. Who is the monster? What is monstrous? David Lynch's Eraserhead but focused on grief, combined with 'Chouette' by Claire Oshetsky (which I am now remembering has an Eraserhead epigraph, so there you go.) Plus, something else that haunts me at the edges of my mind, that I can't quite attach to a specific nightmare...
*Book #151/340 I have read of the shortlisted Morning News Tournament of Books ( )
1 vote booklove2 | Mar 18, 2024 |
When her young son dies, a mother, overcome with sorrow, cuts open his body and takes a small segment of his lung. Placing it in a jar, she leaves her husband to return to Mexico City, where she feeds and nurtures the piece of lung until it eventually becomes something that isn't her son, or even human, but very much alive and with its own urges and tastes.

Monstrilio begins as a story about grief and how it can pull people together and drive them apart, and then it becomes something else. Structured into four segments, following the mother, her best friend, the husband and finally, Monstrilio itself, this is a story that goes in unanticipated directions as the human characters care for the strange creature, but struggle to find a balance between letting it live its life and forming it into something like the lost son. This is an odd and oddly compelling story despite the characters behaving in ways that no actual person ever would. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Feb 17, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
An enthralling debut that packs a heavy emotional punch. Fans of domestic horror like Zoje Stages' anu Teeth or Ashley Audrain's The Push will find a lot to chew on here.
added by Lemeritus | editLibrary Journal, Colin Chappell (Feb 1, 2023)
 
Unsettling ... While the prose is a bit flat, Sámano Córdova does a good job elucidating the contours of grief and love. This creepy work of psychological horror gives readers plenty to chew on.
added by Lemeritus | editPublisher's Weekly (Jan 16, 2023)
 
A mother despondent over the death of her son employs a bloody dose of magical realism to bring him back to life. In this wicked debut novel, Sámano Córdova combines queer themes touching on identity, kink, and consent with Latin American mysticism for an unusually visceral coming-of-age tale. Deciding who to root for in this Kafkaesque myth may prove perplexing for readers, but there’s no doubt there’s nothing quite like it. A Promethean fable about reconstruction, reinvention, and the occasional human-sized snack.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Jan 15, 2023)
 
Truly unsettling at times, the story often leans towards magical realism, depicting a reality where fantastical elements exist and tragic events become a palpable entity. In this universe, sentient and growing pieces of lung are as plausible as death itself.
added by Lemeritus | editBooklist (Jan 1, 2023)
 
An unearthly hybrid that’s part horror, part literary meditation on grief, part wildly entertaining tale of an impossible being forced to live in the shadow of the dead boy he replaced. At once heartbreaking and unapologetically strange, this is a cross-cultural, syncretic, folksy, razor-sharp narrative about the horrors of grief and the eternal debate over nature versus nurture ... The first part is a superb introduction, the second an exploration of love and loneliness, the third a slightly meandering look at the way we rebuild after a huge loss. But the last part is the crowning jewel of this unique novel ... Monstrilio packs in a lot, and the author pulls it off brilliantly. It is at once dark and tender, at times bleak, but balanced with humor that borders on slapstick ... An outstanding debut.
added by Lemeritus | editLos Angeles Times, Gabino Iglesias
 
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Her son dies in a child-sized bed, big enough for him but barely enough to hold her and her husband who cling to the edges, folding themselves small so they fit one of each side of him.... Her son was alive and now he isn't. No thunder, no angels weeping, no cloaked Death, no grave; just his silent body, unbreathing, and the blunt realization that this is it.
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A "wholly unique" and "uncompromising" literary horror debut about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes (Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortunes) Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago's lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family's decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses--though curbed by his biological and chosen family's communal care--threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life. A thought-provoking meditation on grief, acceptance, and the monstrous sides of love and loyalty, Gerardo Sámano Córdova blends bold imagination and evocative prose with deep emotional rigor. Told in four acts that span the globe from Brooklyn to Berlin, Monstrilio offers, with uncanny clarity, a cathartic and precise portrait of being human.

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