We Shall Be Monsters | Tara Sim 

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Coming June 25, 2024 from Nancy Paulsen Books; 400 pages

About the Author: “Tara Sim is a YA and adult fantasy author found in the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not writing about magic, murder, and mayhem, she drinks tea and wrangles cats” (Bio from author’s Goodreads profile).

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“The worst day of Kajal’s life was the day she broke out of her own coffin.”

We Shall Be Monsters is the first in a new series by Tara Sim that is equal parts Indian mythology and horror retelling. Kajal begins the story awakening from the dead only to learn her sister, Lasya, is also dead, but not entirely. Lasya’s soul is trapped as a bhuta (a murder-hungry spirit), preventing her from joining the cycle of reincarnation. The bhuta wreaks havoc on Kajal and anyone Kajal happens to come across. Blamed for the bhuta’s wrongdoings, Kajal is deemed a witch and locked away. The plot progresses with two rebels helping her to escape her prison—on the condition that she will awaken the long-dead crown prince. Chaos ensues when Kajal accidentally reawakens someone else, pushing her real-life reunion with Lasya back even further. Filled with spirits, demons, reanimated corpses, and a blight that eats away at their land, We Shall Be Monsters is a horrifically delicious Frankenstein retelling that incorporates Indian mythology and culture seamlessly into a dark, fantastical world. 

While reading We Shall Be Monsters, I was first struck by Sim’s poetic yet gory writing, perfect for a horror fan like me. The novel is filled with disturbing scenes but balances out the grim with shades of beauty. Through Hindu practices incorporated into the story, heartfelt moments between siblings, lost lovers, and an adorable dog brought back to life from the dead, We Shall Be Monsters is a captivating and endearing read. Kajal is a compelling main character, despite her splenetic tendencies and her unwieldy scalpel, as she begins to learn from her past and grows to trust the people around her. This novel differentiates itself from the common gothic stories I normally gravitate towards as it uses its focus on South Asian culture and Hinduism to create a fantasy world that feels completely authentic. The novel not only has fantastic representation for mythologies often not explored in YA fantasy but also has a crucial nonbinary character who joins the cast of main characters. While I was able to predict the twist-ending, I was nonetheless shocked at how all the components set up at the start of the story manage to pay off in such an elegant and harmonious way. I highly recommend this novel to any reader trying to expand their mythology knowledge and any reader who enjoys a bit of gore in their novels. 

Pine Reads Review would like to thank Viking Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Jenica Delaney, Pine Reads Review Writer


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