Someone You Can Build a Nest In
by John Wiswell
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Pub Date 02 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 19 Mar 2024
⭐ "Wiswell raises the bar on the outcast as protagonist . . . the ultimate monster slayer story, if the monster is just a misunderstood creature searching for love.” — Kristi Chadwick, Library Journal (starred review)
Discover this creepy, charming monster-slaying fantasy romance—from the perspective of the monster—by Nebula Award-winning debut author John Wiswell
Shesheshen has made a mistake fatal to all monsters: she's fallen in love.
Shesheshen is a shapeshifter, who happily resides as an amorphous lump at the bottom of a ruined manor. When her rest is interrupted by hunters intent on murdering her, she constructs a body from the remains of past meals: a metal chain for a backbone, borrowed bones for limbs, and a bear trap as an extra mouth.
However, the hunters chase Shesheshen out of her home and off a cliff. Badly hurt, she’s found and nursed back to health by Homily, a warm-hearted human, who has mistaken Shesheshen as a fellow human. Homily is kind and nurturing and would make an excellent co-parent: an ideal place to lay Shesheshen’s eggs so their young could devour Homily from the inside out. But as they grow close, she realizes humans don’t think about love that way.
Shesheshen hates keeping her identity secret from Homily, but just as she’s about to confess, Homily reveals why she’s in the area: she’s hunting a shapeshifting monster that supposedly cursed her family. Has Shesheshen seen it anywhere?
Eating her girlfriend isn’t an option. Shesheshen didn’t curse anyone, but to give herself and Homily a chance at happiness, she has to figure out why Homily’s twisted family thinks she did. As the hunt for the monster becomes increasingly deadly, Shesheshen must unearth the truth quickly, or soon both of their lives will be at risk.
And the bigger challenge remains: surviving her toxic in-laws long enough to learn to build a life with, rather than in, the love of her life.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 80 members
This book is an absolute wild ride of a read, and it was incredibly enjoyable throughout. It's definitely not for everyone - I'm not recommending it for family book group, for example. However, for people for whom, "lesbian shapeshifting blob disembowels and absorbs girlfriend's abusive family members...for love!" hits the sweet spot, it's an absolute slam dunk. Yeah, it's a little gory, but there's an amazing amount of tenderness and humanity that I found super relatable. It's also got a great message about how "monsters" might have more humanity than the humans, and that humans can be monsters too; the different is not in how you're perceived, but how you treat others. Honestly, a book that can give me goopy digestive juicy gore, a tender exploration of familial trauma, and the joy and confusion of falling in love all in one is absolutely a five star read for me. This is the kind of book that I wouldn't have expected to get published, but I'm thrilled that it did, and I hope it finds its way into the hands of other readers for whom it resonates like it did for me.
Ordinarily one wouldn’t use the words absolutely adorable to describe a book that discusses at length various bodily fluids, bones, and an Alien style hatching, but here we are. This book was probably the surprise of the year for me. I was intrigued by the description and then blown away by the execution. The novel follows Shesheshen, a blob of not really human flesh but with an appetite for it, grappling with human nature, family dynamics, and battling her own nature for the one she loves. I love originality in a book and this one certainly delivers, and there were several twists I certainly wasn’t expecting. Very much enjoyed, thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review.
What a fun and wild ride! Innovative monster idea and witty yet psychologically subtle story with almost more unexpected turns than the main character possesses stolen organs. Perfect for fans of smart and queer novels such as "Gideon the Ninth" "Legends & Lattes", "Empire of the Vampire". Will certainly recommend this new fantasy gem.