With Lesser Known Monsters, one of the few things I was on the fence about was its marketing statement:
Lesser Known Monsters is an own voices queer dark fantasy featuring diverse characters on a found family adventure. Perfect for fans of action and paranormal romance seeking LGBTQ+ heroes.
I understand why the author presented it as such. But I also worry about its possible marketing limitations. I think it’s dangerous to put such tags on really good fiction. Lesser Known Monsters is an extremely good first novel by Rory Michaelson. As a heterosexual male, this book was one of my favorite reads of the year (so far). Obviously, for me, it had nothing to do with the LGBTQ+ tag or being a “queer dark fantasy” read.
Lesser Known Monsters is just a good book. Period. Just because the characters are straight or gay, doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter. What’s important is that Michaelson really develops good characters throughout. Like the sassy Zara or lead character Oscar (who readers can immediately empathize with and care about) or even Marcus who plays a solid role within the circle of friends.
Michaelson presents the same-sex interactions with heart. The way Michaelson tastefully depicts same-sex attraction and romance is subtle, well-thought and effective for all audiences.
The characters and some themes reflect the LGBTQIAP+ community’s common grounds. Its tagged readership will find solace within the pages of Lesser Known Monsters. But every reader, despite their sexual preference, will discover a really talented author at work here. No tags needed. The plot is entertaining and action-packed. The mythical and fairytale threads that run throughout are enchanting. The actual book is well-edited with a great layout (as referencing my advanced copy of the Kindle edition I received).
If I had some detractions, it would be believing how some of the characters were conveniently placed together. Most notably within a single hospital setting and particularly with Doctor Ocampo and her later role in the book. At times, the plot seemed to skimp on fleshing out the whos, whats and the whys in favor of connect-the-dot action events.
The book lands on Halloween 2020. It can be acquired with Kindle Unlimited. Definitely recommended reading!