Ordinary Monsters’ premise is a familiar one: a school for special children, children with supernatural gifts. In this world, these children and their abilities are known as Talents, and the school they are taken to for protection and training is called the Cairndale Institute. The story is primarily of two talented boys, Marlowe and Charlie, while they are taken to their new home and being tracked down by a mysterious dark figure.
While we do follow the boys, Charlie and Marlowe, the point of views readers follow varies. The scope of the world is extensive, both in setting and characters. One example is Marlowe’s adoptive mother, who readers are introduced to when she finds Marlowe as a baby who is glowing (yes, glowing) in a train car and adopts him as a foundling. While she isn’t in the story for long, there are many other characters the reader follows throughout the novel, such as the agents ecorting the boys to Cairndale, their boss (the headmaster of the school), family members, the big bad, and even one of the big bad’s associates. While the cast of characters is large, each of them are fleshed out and well rounded, making them important to the overall tale and events instead of just another name to remember.
The setting of Ordinary Monsters takes place in multiple cities in the Victorian era, perfect for the gothic fantasy atmosphere of the story. The descriptions of the environments are detailed, beautiful, and very easy to imagine as cinematic. The prose used by Miro are flowery, but gorgeous and necessary in setting the mood of the scene. While the prose are well done, the book does feel hard to get through at points, in part due to its length. This first book in a new trilogy is epic at almost 700 pages, reminiscent of other classic sagas like Lord of the Rings or possibly Harry Potter. Whether the follow-up books in this trilogy will have a similar page count remains to be seen, but it may be something to keep in mind for readers who might struggle to become as enveloped in the richly detailed setting of the novel, or might be looking for a lighter read.
While Ordinary Monsters is truly an epic read, it may not appeal to everyone. But for those readers interested in a sweeping Gothic fantasy, Ordinary Monsters by J. M. Miro deftly mixes suspense with whimsy and offers a grand world worth diving into.
Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro is available now at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.
If you enjoyed Lainey’s review, check out more here: