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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 14 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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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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Samono Cordova is an amazing author! He has made this story truly come to life and it will haunt my dreams for some time.

Monstrilio is more than a horror story. It's a story about grief and moving on. When her son dies, Magos uses some of his lung to try and resurrect him. As you may guess, the results are not what she bargained for.

If you like creepy, spooky, twisted tales, this beautiful story of love and loss is for you!
#Zando #Monstrilio #GerardoSamanoCordova

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thank u net galley and zando for the arc!

um ok spooky!!! i really loved this concept. i'm a sucker for a good family drama/grief horror story so this rly scratched an itch for me. loved the body horror, the settings, the writing was really gorgeous and grotesque and funny and weird too. i loved the way the story was split up, loved the pace of it.... i'll shut up. we get it mads u loved it!!!!

4.5 stars from me

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Absolutely wonderful! Horror stories laced with grief are quickly becoming my favorite type of book. There is so much sadness and so much to unpack, I am excited to keep reading from this author. And that cover!

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Perfect for fans of Nightbitch and Motherthing, Monstrilio is a surreal portrait of fierce mother-love and the visceral power of grief …and the insatiable hunger to know yourself.

Magos and Joseph have just lost their son. Dead at 11 years old, Santiago had already lived 11 years longer than expected. While Joseph succumbs to a deep, immobilizing depression, Magos heads to Mexico to recuperate with family.

She didn’t tell Joseph what she brought with her - a small slice of their son’s long tissue, tucked away in a glass jar. She took it on instinct, and instinct also tells her to feed it.

The lung tissue grows quickly, but what is it growing into? How long can Magos hide it?
I’ll stop here to avoid any spoilers, but I will say that this is a story that will live in my head for a long time. With elements of folk horror and fairy tales, Monstrilio is a darkly magical work of literature and a remarkable coming-of-age story.

But be aware that this is also a graphic and grotesque little gem. It disgusts as it dazzles, and it never abandons its themes of loss, grief, longing, and fear. It stays heavy, but somehow also manages to maintain a dark comedic edge.

Monstrilio shows us our worst fears about loving someone and asks us to re-examine the concept of unconditional love. What is that limitless love capable of turning us into? Is boundless love always a good thing? And how far will we go to protect it? If we go far enough, what’s on the other side of it?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc of this stunning debut!

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What a unique story, I can easily say I have never read a book like this. I absolutely loved it! It is split into 4 different perspectives of main characters, which helps answer many of the different questions or things you wonder diving into this book.

Covering many different emotions grief, and how many handle. How they face those emotions, or don't face them. I feel a main premise of this book is about how they are unable to want to move on, how they cling to recreating their son, to not fully accept his death and fall in love with Monstrilio trying to create a version 2 of their life.

This story covers quite a handful of years, there is a jump in the middle of it where you get to see how everyone is doing and where they are in their lives. How they are all still struggling.

It was addictive, captivating, and highly unique.

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Horror and magical realism are skillfully blended to create a harrowing, heartfelt tale about grief, acceptance and second chances.

Told from four perspectives and spanning three cities worldwide, "Monstrilio" explores just how far a family will go to protect themselves and the ones they love.

Mourning the loss of her 11-year-old son Santiago, grieving mother Magos carves out a piece of her son's lung. In the vein of an old folktale, Magos nurtures the lung as it grows into a sentient being, naming him Monstrilio. Little Monstrilio is animalistic in nature, but as he further develops to resemble a human, he and his family try their best to give Monstrilio a chance at a normal life. As Monstrilio navigates the burden of being the unspoken replacement for Santiago, his innate impulses become harder to suppress.

Getting to experience the point of view of each main character — mother, father, family friend and Monstrilio — highlights the humility of this family unit. Everyone copes with pain and loss in their own ways, but through the horror of it all, they remain loyal to each other. "Monstrilio" is a poignant family saga at its core that illustrates hope after tragedy.

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This story really surprised me and it was beautifully written.

I don’t want to give too much away, but i do recommend approaching this one with minimal background research on it. Love, loss, grief, transformation and family dynamics are told from the pov of the four main characters in monstrilio and it’s done in a way that’s perfectly paced and relevant to the storyline.

I really enjoyed Joseph and M’s section of this story. I empathized with both of them and I feel like I could feel Joseph’s grief and M trying to navigate his role in his parents giref while growing and trying to find how he fits through his transformation.

So so good. One of my favorite reads so far for 2023. Definitely recommend this one, you won’t be disappointed.

thank you ZandoProjects for this ARC, courtesy of Netgalley. Publication date for “Monstrilio” is March 7, 2023.

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This book is about grief, told through the eyes of who love him most. This book is about creation of what comes from the grief; it's about the sprawling effect it has on each character. It's about love and the sacrifice we make for who we love.
This story is beautiful and captivating-- I truly felt for the characters and I don't think that's an easy task to accomplish as an author.
As mentioned by several other readers, I wouldn't necessarily label Monstrilio as horror; sure, there is violence and descriptions that align with the horror genre, but it's just not. Once again, this debut is a beautiful piece of work-- I couldn't put this one down!

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MONSTRILIO surprised me more than any book has in a long, long time. This queer literary horror tackles grief, love, loss, pain, and what it means to be human.
The story opens with married parents Magos and Joseph grieving the death of their eleven-year-old son Santiago. Overcome with the weight of the loss, Magos cuts out a piece of Santiago’s lunch and keeps it in a jar. After learning of an old folktale from her mother’s housekeeper, Magos feeds and nurtures the lung until it grows into a carnivorous monster, given the name Monstrilio, that both loves Magos and cannot control its monstrous instincts. Throughout the novel, Monstrillio continues to grow and resemble Santiago, but can nurture fully erase nature?
This novel, told in four acts through the viewpoints of Magos, her friend Lena, Joseph, and finally Monstrilio, envelopes you in story that will expose complicated emotions and the strength of a parent’s loyalty.
This book was one of my highly anticipated releases for 2023 and it certainly did not disappoint. Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s use of language and story is a lush, all-consuming experience. I would not consider this novel a horror in the original sense and this story genre-bends in a way I have not experienced in a long time.

Pick up this book on March 7, 2023!

*thank you NetGalley and ZandoBooks for this early copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read this ahead of publication.
A fantastic and deeply unsettling read, Mostrilio ticked all the boxes and really exceeded my expectations. The voices of the narrators were distinct and all of them were fleshed out and realistic. I found Magos to be the most unsettling of them all and the one that held a bit of a mystery for me even after the end. I loved how queer the book was without the queerness being an afterthought or this huge plot point. Instead, the queerness was just something that most of the characters shared and to me that’s what makes a good queer book.
The story as a whole was certainly unsettling in the best way possible. It made want to keep reading until I finished and then some more.
The writing style was precise with vivid imagery.
Overall an amazing book that I will certainly keep thinking of for a while still.

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Thank you so much for netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this early! I went into this book expecting a classic monster novel, but did not anticipate such a gut-wrenching meditation on grief, love, and acceptance. I loved how queer this novel was and that that queerness was normalized and didn’t exist for any deeper meaning other than an aspect of the characters’ identities.
It is safe to say that I have never read a novel, let alone a horror novel, quite like this one. The structure alone worked really well narratively as it was split into four parts following individual characters’ inner monologues as Monstrilio grew up. Magos gave Monstrilio life and love from the beginning, but equates him with her dead son; Lena accepted Monstrilio because of her love for Magos and kickstarted Monstrilio’s transition from monster to “human”; Joseph learned to accept Monstrilio—later M—for (almost) who he was, separate from Santiago, and loved him as his son, but could never seem to reconcile who he wanted M to become and what he actually was; and finally, concluding with M’s perspective, he seeks acceptance from those who love him, but also desires freedom to be who he is without compromise. While there were some classic body horror aspects present in this poetic novel, the real darkness lay in placing expectations on M that he was never capable of living up to, and him knowing that truth all along. I think the story ended the way it was meant to, with M leaving his family behind to live how he was always meant to—wild and free.
The story that followed the main characters was fantastic and each of their voices was so distinct. By the time I realized I would be able to read from M’s perspective, I raced to the end. However, I think there were some side characters that were unnecessary, for example, I didn’t quite see the importance of Peter’s character except for being a reason why Joseph couldn’t fully accept M while also being an avenue to move on once M leaves. A part of me wanted the drama of Peter finding out about M’s history—and accepting him. But this is a horror novel, and horror stories don’t usually have a happy ending. Ultimately, I rooted for M to thrive and live freely, so I’m glad he is able to shed his old life and family’s expectations in the end.
A fantastic and unique story that kept me on my toes.

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Magos and Joseph’s son is dead. Santiago was never a strong boy having been born with only one lung and he lived probably longer than he should have. Magos wants a memento, just a little something that embodies her sons Santiagoness.
So begins a glorious piece of weird horror. This isn’t for the faint of heart but it’s not a gore fest either. Things do get messy both physically and emotionally but what really got me was how shocking it was. It was super creative and watching the development of Monstrilio grow from made me think that you understand what it means to be human more when you aren’t one.
Told in four different sections, each by a different character giving you unique perspectives for the continuous story creating a creepy, bizarre, and scary tale filled with grief, friendship and love. There were many moments that caught me off guard, completely rereading passages to make sure I read it right.
“its arm-tail grew not quite opposite its face but at an angle, with a paw at its end and three long black claws like talons.”

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Wow Wow Wow. This book was phenomenal and exactly what I needed to get out of my slump. I devoured this and thought about it whenever I had to take a break from reading it. This was a beautifully written horror novel that was captivating from the moment it started. This is definitely a top contender for my favorite of the year.

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This one ended up winning me over after a slow start. I found the quality of the prose uneven and the second section weaker than the rest, but the last third of the novel was particularly engrossing. This can be read metaphorically and it brings up a lot of questions about family, grief, nurturance, parental expectations, queerness, and how far people will go to protect those they love. A very interesting debut with a strong perspective and unwavering commitment to horror.

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Monstrilio is everything I never knew that I wanted from a literary horror story. To start, the characters are fully-formed, distinct, and loveable. Magos and her grief-turned-madness. Joseph and his aching sadness. Lena and her loyal practicality. Uncle Luke and his devotion. M and his empathy and wild spirit. Each character is unique and memorable.

Beyond the brilliant characterization, Monstrilio as a story is deeply compelling. Grief as a living thing... Grief as a monster! This core concept is so well executed - especially in the final chapter that follows M's perspective. I also absolutely loved the casual sexual fluidity of this book and its characters. This may have been the most bisexual story I've ever read and I am absolutely here for it.

I'm not sure what else to say except that Monstrilio is a fantastic book that I want to recommend to everyone I know.

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An amazingly written story exploring grief, love, and family. This story is told chronologically but in 4 sections narrated by one of our main characters. We start with Margos, a mother who after 11 years of loving and caring for her child lays with him and her husband as the child, Santiago, draws his final breaths. We get to explore the different stages of grief in many ways. Margo's husband, Joseph, grieves much differently than her. Without giving away too much of the plot, Margos had taken a piece of Santiago's only lung to save for herself. After returning to Mexico City and her family, Margos learns a story about a woman regenerating someone from a piece of them. So Margos tries on a whim. What she gets is not her son back, but Monstrilio. Monstrilio, later M, starts as a small fuzzy ball shape with a long tail. M is very hungry and not for typical human fare.
This story was such an interesting take on grief and different forms of love. I felt for all the characters at different points and the ending was very satisfying.
Do not expect this book to be a typical horror story. This is a very literary tale with moments of horror. But I think if you like books that explore grief, love, the human condition, and have LGBTQIA+ themes, you will like this one!

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Thanks so much to Netgalley and Zando Projects for the ARC of #Monstrilio!

This was a really engaging novel! The concepts that it explored about death, life, family, longing, and love were really well done and once I started it I had trouble putting it down. I also loved how the story weaved between the alternating storytellers to provide insight into their mindset during these pivotal events in the story.

I would highly recommend this novel for fans of horror, folklore, and families trying to forge a new path in the face of great tragedy.

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When her son dies, Magos removes a piece of his lung to hold on to a part of him. When she hears a story about "feeding" the body part of a deceased person, she dribbles a little chicken broth on the lung and falls asleep. She doesn't expect it to work, but when she wakes up the next morning, the lung is...alive? "Monstrilio" follows Magos, her husband Josepeh, and her best friend Lena as the lung grows into...something. Something that is not quite human and not quite a monster.

Wow, wow, wow, wow, I LOVED THIS BOOK. It's a poignant work about grief and loss, using Monstrilio (or 'M') as a sort of personification of those feelings. Pain, grief, anxiety, intense feelings being personified in a monster/ghost/creature/etc. is an element of horror I find compelling, so I was sold on the book from the start. However, "Monstrilio" went beyond just using a being to symbolize grief and pain by giving us a portion of the book from M's perspective; he goes from being a symbol to a real, complex being outside of what he represents. I thought that was such a fresh, smart addition to this technique.

I finished this book last night and I've been thinking about it all day, trying to put it into words. Something about grief and consuming, something about being a monster and being human, something about letting go and setting yourself free? I don't know, but I do know I'll be thinking about this one for a long time!

You'll like this book if you like more literary horror, if you're interested in text that explore grief and loss, and if you like a sympathetic "monster."

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This masterful book is everything I want in a literary horror! I have no doubt that this will be exceedingly popular and well received. The concept alone, though gruesome, transforms into a tale of grief and delusion. I felt the different points of view a very welcome change - I don't see that very often in horror books. I will read whatever Gerardo Sámano Córdova writes. I don't plan to be shutting up about this book anytime soon!!

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Every once in a while a book you know very little about finds its way to you and burrows its way deep into your soul. This hit all the right beats for me - macabre premise, magical realism, unconventional family, super queer, characters you would do anything for. This globetrotting tale moves quickly, yet takes time to revel in the little moments that allow these characters to shine in all their complexity. I was absolutely gripped by this modern nature-vs-nurture parable, and will be singing its praises from the rooftops.
Following the loss of their son, Magos takes matters into her own hands. Inspired by a family legend she heard from a friend, she takes a piece of her deceased son's lung to craft a new monster. As the creature grows, the family is forced to reevaluate their relationships with each other and their places in the world. Infusing horror elements with literary fiction family drama, the result is a magical tale of resilience, destruction, art, and love. Monstrilio is the most endearing, queer little beast, and the way these characters' love for each other evolves is spectacular to witness. I loved this book.

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What a brilliant book! When Joseph and Magos' son dies Magos takes a bit of his lung to keep for herself. When she goes back to Mexico she hears a folktale about feeding the saved part and it will grow. Magos feeds it some chicken soup and ends up with a cute odd-shaped little monster who has a deep desire for raw meat. Naming him Monstrilio he continues to grow. I loved every minute of this. An intelligent commentary on whether one can (or should) change the inherent nature of someone. Monstrilio is such a lovable innocent that you find yourself rooting for him even once he's committed crimes.

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<b>Rating: 5 Stars</b>

I knew from the first several pages that this was going to be a novel that stuck with me. Sat with me, resonated, and found a place deep in my heart and soul. By the final ten pages, I was pre-ordering the physical copy of this ARC, crying happy-sad tears, and trying to keep it together. Anyone who knows me and my reading tastes will know that I deeply love two things: grief horror and Mary Shelley's <i>Frankenstein</i>. Gerardo Samano Cordova's debut novel, <i>Monstrilio</i>, is the perfect blend of both - in a way that I haven't quite experienced before.

To my friends, I apologize in advance. I will, undoubtedly, be recommending this nonstop at any opportunity for years to come.

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Monstrilio was not at all what I was expecting it to be, but I loved it so much. Never did I think a horror story about a little monster boy would end in tears but here we are.

Ok, it was a lone tear (still counts).

Monstrilio is a story about a monster, but it's more of an expression of grief and family, both natural and found. When young Santiago dies, his mother carves into him, removing part of his only lung. She feeds and nurtures the lung piece and and she does, Monstrilio grows into a small creature who appears to be part boy and part monster. Over the years, Monstilio's story is told as his life changes and he becomes a young man who isn't quite human.

This was a heavy book that was very full of emotion and grieving, with Magos, Lena, and Joseph each mourning the loss of Santiago in different ways and at different points of their lives. I really loved how the story was told from four point of views over the course of Monstrilio's life. We begin the story with Mago's point of view after Santiago has just passed away. Over the years we see Lena's sleeplessness and unreciprocated love for Magos, Joseph's whole new life in New York, and finally M's own view of his life and how wrong he feels in his body. By the end of the book I couldn't help but feel for M. The turning point of the book for him (Mago's performance) and all of the aftermath turns him into a "monster," but the author did a really great job of humanizing him. I also loved all of the queer representation!

Look up CWs if you're not sure, but some include: death of a child, cannibalism.

Thank you to NetGalley and Zando Projects for an advance copy. I can't wait to read more from this author in the future.

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