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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 07 Mar 2023

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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.

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...

Advance Praise

"Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s dark, soulful magic puts me in mind of Kelly Link or Carmen Maria Machado (and further back, Mary Shelley). The horror of grief has rarely been so viscerally or movingly evoked.”

—PETER HO DAVIES, author of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself

"Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s dark, soulful magic puts me in mind of Kelly Link or Carmen Maria Machado (and further back, Mary Shelley). The horror of grief has rarely been so viscerally or movingly...

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ISBN 9781638930365
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Featured Reviews

I know that we still have a few months to go in 2022 and that Monstrilio doesn't actually publish until next year, but I'm calling it my favorite read of 2022. It tells the story of a grieving mother, who cuts out a piece of her deceased son's lung and then attempts to raise it. It seems like an odd concept, but it is a beautiful story of grief and how far we will go to preserve our loved ones.

The characters we meet along the way all come with their own baggage, but they are all connected by not only the death of the child but also his "resurrection"; even though most of them realize he wasn't actually reborn from the piece of lung. The mother, Margos, finds herself so enshrouded in grief that not even for a second she thinks about the dangers she could unleash on the world by bringing a piece of her son back to life. No amount of reasoning from relatives can stop her, and I can sympathize with this way of thinking. A parent's love is unlike any other.

Monstrilio had me hooked from the first sentence to the last. A must-read for 2023. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read it early.

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Strong horror blurs the line between human and inhuman; Monstrilio does this figuratively through his violence and his strong familial and interpersonal bonds, and then literally--to terrifying effect--with his biological indecision. The novel tricks you into settling into a slower, psychological dread, but returns with vivre for bouts of terror. Each character, grieving parents and entranced onlookers, feel fleshed (no pun intended) in their own ways, and as the trauma and continuing embodiment of grief and hunger escape the geographical bounds of each dwelling, each city, their shared humanity reacts to the strain imposed upon them.

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First, I just want to thank and for sending me the advanced reader copy of Monstrilio and airing me the opportunity to review this incredible novel.

Without giving to much way, or repeating the blurb you can find anyone you search the title up, I will say this book is about a mother and father who lose their young preteen child. The mother cuts a piece of the child body off and keeps it in a jar in a kind of ritual attempt to keep a part of him close. Upon hearing a folk story about apiece of someone being grown into a new person, she begins to experiment and sets off a wild, horrifying, incredibly sad, and at times monstrously humorous chain of events. TW: cannibalism(kinda) and some minor domestic wise.

I enjoyed this book so much. It is listed as literally horror, and it fits securely within that genre, but I think emotional family drama is more fitting. Horror is not the point, and it's really not much of the story. The emotions of the characters are at the forefront of the tale. How we hold on to those we love. How we project our losses on each other. The ways we see parts of our lost ones inside others, and how we cling to these sometimes hallucinatory projections. And ultimately, how these losses change us for better or worse and change our relationships with those around us.

The characters feel so real and their emotions, at times, became indistinguishable from my own. They meet head on the traumatic lot they've been dealt, and try to face these events with love, patience, humility, and humor, but often fail. The monster in this story has his own voice and this was some of my favorite part of the prose, told incrementally from 4 different narrator's points of view(Mother, Mother's best friend, Father, and Monstrilio himself.

The narrative was captivating, even exhilarating. I read the entire book in 2 sessions over 24 hours. I couldn't stop reading and almost called off work just to finish the last 50 pages or so. I can't wait until it is released because it is absolutely going to be a hit.

The stylistic choice I mentioned above, telling the story from different narrator's point of view ,was such an interesting and complimentary facet of the tale. Everyone, even Monstrilio himself, deals with their grief, confusion, loss, and general breakdowns of their life while also trying to make sense of each other's pain simultaneously...because they love each other. It's perfectly metaphorical in that way.

All of that said, Monstrilio comes out March 7, 2023 and I hope you go out and get a copy immediately because it is so good.

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What starts out as a strange little concept of a mother cutting out a piece of her dead child’s lung to reanimate him, turns into a profound, tender exploration of the complexities of grief, parenthood, love, acceptance and knowing when to let go.

I was hooked right from the start and really loved the way the story is told from multiple points of view, allowing us to get a full portrait of Monstrilio’s family, their feelings and motives. Perhaps most heart wrenching is his mother who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring her ‘son’ back, even if that means harming others.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and will definitely be recommending to others! 3.5 stars ⭐️

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[Blurb goes here]

The Mexican author Gerardo Sámano Córdova, writes a truly unique tale.

Magos and Joseph' son just died. Santiago, an imaginative and wonderful boy, was eleven years old. Born with only one underdeveloped lung, his dead was not a question of how, but when. While Joseph grieves, Magos seems to feel nothing, she just want to keep a part of his child for herself. To her husband's horror, she opens up the body, and cuts a small piece of his son's lung. This is too much for Joseph to handle. Magos discovers that she feels little empathy for the man's suffering, so she decides to go back to her mother's home in Mexico City, carrying the little lump in a small jar.

When in Mexico, the woman who helps her mother with the upkeep of the house finds the jar, and tells Magos a story about a woman who stole the heart of a young dead girl, and feeds it. Soon after, the heart turns into a beautiful man, one who marries the woman...unfortunately, things don't end well for the couple.

This seemingly innocent story, borrows into Magos' brain. What would happen if she feeds the remaining part from Santiago? Would he come back to her? Would it turn into her son, or into something else?

The story is written in first person view, giving a singular voice to each of the characters' narration of events. Not a regular voice, mind you, but one filled with heart and soul. It would seem, at first, that this is a tale about a monster trying to become a man, wrestling his nature, his need to feed on other humans. While this is an important part of the story, it is by no means the core of it.

Gerardo Samano Córdova writes a truly original, and compelling tale. I can't praise this book as much as it deserves to be praised. Read it in one night. It was impossible for me to put it down. There are a few grammar mistakes, here and there, all forgotten and forgiven due to the powerful story, not that of a monster, but in truth, one about loss, grief, family, friends, love...and forgiveness.

Looking for your next great read? Look no further. Monstrilio has more heart in it, than anything I've read as of late.

Thank you for the advanced copy!

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The beauty of the writing drew me in, but the understanding of grief, and the different forms it can take was masterful.
If someone is seeking traditional horror, this probably isn't what you're looking for. The book certainly has gore, but it's a very emotive and deeply layered work, no quick scares to be had here.

How can we come to love a monster?
What does it cost for a being to deny their very essence, is a monster ever just a monster? This book makes me think about many topics surrounding otherness, grief, masking, etc. I love a book that makes me think, but this one also made me feel deeply, examining elements of my own life with a child who's had a plethora of health issues, and yet it was not without humor (and body horror).

I really enjoyed seeing the story unfold through the eyes of those who loved Monstrilio, the layers of symbolism and metaphor will stay with me, and likely continue to develop long after the book is closed.  This stands out as my favorite read of 2022, out of more than 100 books. I would have read it in a sitting if life hadn't kept interrupting. Looking forward to more from the author, I'll be eagerly waiting for more! Thank you Netgalley and @Zando publishing for allowing me early access.

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Monstrilio is an incredible story about grief, family, friends, and the lengths we go to for the people (and sometimes monsters) we love.

When Santiago dies at a young age due to a congenital medical condition, his parents cope in different ways. Magos, his mother, cannot live without him, and so tries to find a way to bring him back. But as many seasoned horror fans will know, bringing someone or something back from the dead always comes with consequences...
I was initially attracted to this book by the amazing cover, and after reading the synopsis, I was hooked.
The story is told from various viewpoints, traverses multiple cities and spans a number of years. It also explores religion, sexuality and culture, and while I find that incorporating so many big topics (let alone from different perspectives) can lead to none of them being given the time they require or deserve, Gerardo Sámano Córdova has done an incredible job of weaving all of these things together into one cohesive narrative.

This is one of the best debut novels, nay novels, that I have ever read.

It is a beautiful, horrific and poignant study of grief, how we manage it and how it changes us. It is about a parent's love for their child, and perhaps being the mother of a child with a rare and chronic medical condition, at times I felt Magos and Jospeh's pain so viscerally it made my heart physically hurt. However, the story is dispersed with moments of dark humour and sweet interactions, which provide relief from some of the more tragic and horrific elements.

Speaking of horrific, while I am not a person who is easily made queasy, I was eating while reading at one point, and I had to stop reading until I had finished my lunch.

Ultimately, Monstrilio is a book about hope, and moving forward even when you feel like you can't possibly go on. I absolutely loved it and will look forward to reading anything from this author in the future.

Thank you to Zando and NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest review.

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*** Thank you to NetGalley and ZandoProjects for an advanced copy of Monstrilo in exchange for an honest review. ***

Monstrilio is a moving and deeply empathetic story about grief. The book is split into four separate sections, each told from a different character's perspective including a (section 1) mother and father (section 3) and the embodiment of their grief (section 4). Even though the story is largely about the death of the couple's son, it spans several years afterward and covers a lot of different themes including the many different types of love and friendship, the stages of grief, recovering from loss, parenthood (& esp. motherhood), acceptance, and is at times a coming of age story at well. Monstilio was unlike anything I've read before. I read across two sittings but found at times I had to take a quick break because some of the narrative's events were mildly disturbing, although not to an excessive degree, and were, without a doubt, essential to the story. It had some inklings of Guillermo del Toro at times, and I would recommend it to fans of his work. This was an impressive debut - excited to follow along with this author throughout their career!

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This was the strangest, weirdest, loveliest story I have read in some time. A perfect example of how grief effects everyone different and how we deal with that grief is our own. To some it may not be "normal" or usual, but who can say how we react when we lose someone who was our whole world. This book was brilliant. I very rarely give 5 stars....Those that get 5 while stars are special.

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This bicultural tale from Mexico was haunting and vulnerable. Full of grief, family, and metamorphosis, Monstrilio is a must-read.

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When I first started this book, that last thing I expected was to be crying at the end. The worst part about reading this book was not having a physical copy to annotate, and I rarely annotate books.

While on the surface this book is about grief and loss, I think even more this book is about identity and self and authenticity, and maybe even a little about unconditional love. There’s honestly just a lot of layers to this book and I can not express how much I enjoyed it. The writing style was both beautiful and easy to read. I also loved how each characters voice was distinct and the writing style changed to fit each character. Although this book did have a few horrific moments, I would definitely emphasize that this is not a horror book, or solely a ‘monster’ book. It definitely feels more like a surreal ‘lit fit’ book, a character think piece.

Honestly I think this is a book that is best to go in blind. I requested an arc mainly based off my adoration for the cover, and now I would consider it one of my favorite books. If your favorite part of Hereditary was the mother’s monologue at the dinner table, this book is for you. If you like the the weird and surreal ‘hot person lit fic books’ this is for you. And honestly if you have ever grappled with grief or felt like a monster yourself, this is for you.

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I am a big fan of unconventional tales of parenthood. Raising a child evokes such a range of emotions that, as a mother, I often question what the heck is going on. So I think weird, supernatural tales about children make complete sense. And Monstilio, the debut novel by Gerardo Samano Cordova, is an incredible example of the form.

Monstrilio is a beautiful, gruesome tale, told with real tenderness. Magos and Joseph lose their son, Santiago, at age 11. Ravaged by grief, Magos removes a piece of her dead son’s lung, pops it in a jar, and feeds it meat. Unbelievably, the lung grows into the titular Monstrilio, and the family adjust from grief to dealing with a creature who hungers for blood.

Monstrilio is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year. It says so much about family (genetic or chosen), grief, suppression of desires, art, and love. The switches between narrators adds a wonderful dimension to the story. The story flowed so well; and the final narrator (no spoilers!) concluded the story in such a fitting way. A devastating, inevitable, but satisfying ending.

Highly recommended for fans of Chouette, by Claire Oshetsky.

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oof magoof! This novel!
You gotta read this one when it comes out! Such a thought provoking horror story by Gerardo Sámano Córdova. As we know I have this hard time relating and enjoying books that are heavy on the motherhood aspect (sorry sundail), but I absolutely loved this take, and the added queerness exploration just hit home even more!

Trust me you want this on your preorder list!

Thank you Zando Publishes for the ARC …killer it with this cover! Might need a physical copy

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I have been pining after this book for quite some time, and finally, Zando Projects has accepted my NetGalley request for an Advanced copy of Monstrilio, and I am eternally grateful. Monstrilio is set to hit shelves with a publication date of March 7, 2023.

Monstrlio by Gerado Sámano Códova is an almost modernized take on Dr. Frankenstein's monster, taking inspiration from Latin lore to be created most horrifically.

Magos and Joseph have lost their young son. He didn't make it. He had a weak set of lungs, and they couldn't keep up, causing him to pass on. Stricken with grief, Joseph falls into a depression, and Magos flees their New York home to return to her family home in Mexico, seeking refuge from reality with a piece of Santiago in tow. Upon her visit, she learns of a miracle tale where one family could resurrect a loved one by feeding a dissected body part from the departed.

With a piece of Santiago's lung in her possession, Magos begins to feed the dilapidated organ until one day, it grows and transforms into a mangy, murderous monster that sucks the blood of whatever has a pulse, humans included. With time, the secret gets out, and Monstrilio, as they call it, grows to hold a hunger that can't be satiated.

After a few experimental tests and surgeries, this broken family can live somewhat as one again. However, these still-grieving parents are making selfish choices to coax their egos, making a son out of something that should have been relieved of its misery years prior; it's still an interesting take on modern monsters. It's a monster that eats raw meat and has a stump where its tail used to be, but it walks and talks and holds a job at a bookstore and feels emotions, but also gets a murderous rage from time to time.

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I tend to check out reviews ahead of starting a book, and I saw someone compare this to Frankenstein in Baghdad, a book I absolutely loved. While I can see where some of the comparison comes from, I think this is a wholly original book that I loved in a different way. This literary horror novel was compelling from the very beginning and it has universal themes related to parenting and grief. Overall, I highly recommend it.

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Incredibly original, moving, weird and just fascinating. There was so much sadness mixed with horror in it, and that combination worked out extremely well. I can't wait for this book to release so I can recommend it to other readers.

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Excellent novel about dealing with the loss of a child and the terrible things we can do to deal with grief. Vibes of The Babadook and Heredity but I think that just comes from similar subject matter.

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I loved every single second of this book.

Monstrilio is a wildly unique queer literary debut about grief, loneliness, love, and sacrifice. It is labelled as a horror, but I think I'd categorize it as closer to horror adjacent. There are absolutely horrific, violent, graphic elements to the story, but the purpose was not meant to frighten, rather to tell a vulnerable story about a family formed by grief.

Monstrilio is about a family living in Mexico City who loses their young son, Santiago. After he dies, his mother cuts open his body and removes a portion of his lung, which she keeps in a jar. She later starts to feed this piece of lung, and it turns into a monster whom they name Monstrilio.

The book is told through the point of view of 4 different characters: Santiago's parents, their best friend Lena, and the final POV is from Monstrilio himself. Each different point of view slowly reveals more about the relationships and motivations of all the characters, and it was compelling to see how each of them handled Santiago's death and Monstrilios creation.

In addition to the book being split into 4 sections with each point of view, there is also a lot of change in scenery, which I really enjoyed. The story starts in Mexico, then moves to New York, Berlin, back to New York, and ends in Mexico. I can tell the author has spent time in most (if not all) of these places, as the accounts of the food and the beauty and even the air in each location felt so honest.

The writing was gorgeous. Lush and gripping and descriptive without being distracting. I highlighted so many quotes. I was truly impressed with this debut and cannot wait to see what else this author comes out with!

*Thank you to Netgalley and Zando for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review*

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First of all thanks to Netgalley and Zando Projects for letting me read an eARC of Monstrilio, it was a truly great experience. For a debut this was an incredible and well paced read that placed provoking questions about humanity in the middle of the horror. The novel starts with the parents grieving the death of their child and the lengths they go to find a new solace by trying to fill that gap. The journey that takes afterwards is highly unexpected but completely enthralling. While the beginning was slower than the rest of the novel I would argue it ultimately benefits the novel. By building the world and characters that surround the monster it makes getting invested in the novel so much easier. I loved how we got insights not only into the titular monster of the novel but also the characters that surround him and whose lives are interwoven with his. You ultimately come to relate and sympathize with them and what it means to not only lose someone but also be different. I highly recommend this novel if you love horror on any level, stick with it and you'll be highly rewarded by the time you devour the whole thing.

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This surprised me in a great way! I expected more horror, but it ended up a immersive, sensitive, quiet, tender exploration of family and grief and human relationships, with just enough creepiness, sight derangement and a lot of casual queerness, with prose I could eat.

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Monstrilio is the story of a family destroyed by grief: Magos and Joseph struggle to remain together after the death of their 11 year old son Santiago. His mother wants to keep a part of him with herself, so she cuts open his body and removes his lung. She keeps it in a jar and, impressed by a local story, decides to feed it. The lung grows and somehow becomes a wild creature, a little monster: Monstrilio.

Okay, WOW. I loved every single word of this book, literally devoured it in two days! Monstrilio is the debut novel of Gerardo Sámano Córdova, and a very unique story of love and grief, acceptance and strength... and a monster with a particular appetite.
I honestly really enjoyed everything about this book:
- all characters, including secondary ones, are well described and recognizable: Magos, Lena, Joseph and Monstrilio are the narrating voices (the book is split in four sections) and it was great to follow their interactions with each other and how they behave in different environments;
- the settings: the story takes place in Mexico, New York and Berlin and, besides the obvious change of location, I felt like there was a change of tone too, a different phase of the characters' lives;
- the writing, which I found particularly beautiful, especially in the description of the consequences of a loss. The pace matches perfectly the emotions of the characters: slow and dense at the beginning, then faster when Monstrilio grows and becomes more independent and hungry;
- the ending: truly poetic and beautiful, it was perfect. Loved it.

I see you, Gerardo Sámano Córdova! Can't wait to read more of your works.
Monstrilio is an incredible debut, I already know it's going to be one of my favorite reads of 2023. Reminder to self: grab a physical copy as soon as it's out!

* I'd like to thank Gerardo Sámano Córdova, Zando Projects and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. * Monstrilio is out on March 7th, 2023.

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Thank you, Zando Projects and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an e-ARC of this impeccable debut novel!

I was instantly impressed with the clear, engaging voice of Magos. How readily she gave details, yet felt so distant and claustrophobic in her grief. Her flaws and complexities brought so much life to her character, and therein, to her little grief monster, Monstrilio. I appreciate how we received Joseph, Lena, and M’s POVs to show a holistic view of the effects of Magos’ creation.

Frankly, there are so many amazing elements to this story that it is hard to contain them all in a meager post. I haven’t felt this excited about something I’ve read in quite a while, so I cannot wait to see where the author will take us next!

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