📖 Review: Soul Eater – Lily Mayne

Series: Monstrous

Pages: 259
Time to read: 1h28m
Pages/hour: 159

Date read: Sat 3 Sep 2022 (re-read)

Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀

“You were the first human to treat me with something other than contempt or disgust.” My breath caught in my chest, and I went still as Wyn spoke. “I decided to give you a chance at survival.”

What do you do when you come face-to-face with a death monster?

Lily Mayne’s Monstrous series starts here, with Soul Eater, the story of soldier Danny and the death monster who takes a shine to him.

Sometime in the future, a tear has opened up between our world and another. One that’s full of monsters. They flooded in, the army responded, and now much of the USA is uninhabitable. People are crammed into cities in the so-called safe zones on either coast, and the wide swathes of the centre of the country are known as the Wastes, full of monsters and raiders and general unsavoury types.

There’s not much for a young boy to do, so Danny’s a soldier, sent out on his first mission to serve as cannon fodder to catch the attention of a creature known only as the Soul Eater. The soldiers with Danny are killed, but a strange thing happens – the Soul Eater is captured, and he let Danny live.

Of course, it’s not the last they see of each other. As the sole survivor of his unit, Danny is pressed into trying to get answers from the Soul Eater. But a creature that old always has something else up his sleeve, and it’s not long before he’s out, and, to Danny’s surprise, has brought him along, too.

Wyn the Soul Eater. Wyn of the Wild Hunt. That’s who we were waiting for. The Wild Hunt happened every three years, when the monster Wyn appeared from fuck knew where and swept across the country, massacring humans in seemingly random fashion. I didn’t know all that much about him – I wasn’t privy to that kind of high-level intel – but there was apparently no rhyme or reason to his murderous rampages. He could go into a house of six and kill two, then take out an entire squad of soldier in the next breath.

What’s the best bit?

Honestly, all of it.

Mayne’s world-building is incredible in everything she writes – the Folk series is a great testament to that, too, though I don’t know if I’ll write a review on those until I do a re-read before the next book comes out.

There’s so much imagination in the types of monsters, their histories, how they interact with each other… Not to mention all the, um, anatomical details. 😉

But also, the characters. It’s easy to see in this first book; Danny’s so sweet and so badly suited to being in the army, and he’s a great foil for Wyn’s gruff but ultimately self-conscious demeanour. But it’s even clearer the more books in we get, as we revisit characters and see them interact with each other.

Also, I just love Edin; he is 100% my favourite and no, I will not be taking other suggestions.

There are breadcrumbs here, too, for what’s to come. Characters are briefly mentioned who show up later on, so if you’re reading this series for the first time and are enjoying it, I’d recommend a re-read. There are neat things you can catch!

“You wanted me to go,” I told him in as calm a voice as I could manage. “So I’m going. Let. Me. Go.”

Wyn snarled, still gripping my shoulders. “When did I ever say I wanted you to go? I just want to keep you safe.”

Who are the real monsters?

Spoilers ahead (for some of the other Monstrous books, too)!

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if you’re going into a book where a human falls in love with a monster (in a semi-post-apocalyptic world, no less!), then the underlying theme is to do with who the real monsters are. That’s not to say there aren’t other themes at play, but obviously, that’s the main one.

Wyn’s a great embodiment of this. He’s old, anciently so, and terribly lonely and misunderstood in the way sympathetic monsters always are. Humans don’t understand his mission and try to kill him? Well, what’s the point of banging your head against a brick wall? His general disinterest and gruffness are really the kindest things he could be.

And, of course, his self-consciousness, when compared to the other monsters we meet later in this series, slots right in here. They’ve not been travelling between worlds for twelve thousand years. They’ve been sheltered, as much as they could be, from the cruelty humans can cause. It’s interesting to note that the only other non-human as self-conscious of his appearance as Wyn is Moth, who has also been subjected to that same type of cruelty – albeit from humans and monsters both.

(And there’s definitely some fun body image stuff related to Edin’s own judgment of what makes someone attractive or virile, and I do mean fun because he’s not being cruel and everyone just thinks he’s kind of a weird dude.)

The juxtaposition is clear, too, with the ‘monsters’ and Hamish and Mallory, who go out of their way to make Wyn and Danny’s lives worse, Mallory getting his hands on Danny at the end and just torturing him. Who are the monsters? Even if they believe Wyn is massacring humans every three years, there’s nothing in there about him torturing them. It’s clear every step of the way (and clearer with the later books) that that was never the issue. The military wants monsters they can control. They didn’t want Wyn to stop him from killing; they wanted him because they wanted to know how to do it more efficiently.

I like this thread, is what I’m saying. Every book has a theme (and if someone tells you romance doesn’t, they’re wrong, because every romance book asks us what it means to be loved or to love), and this one weaves through the series and leaves it stronger for it.

“I love you.” His voice shook the tiniest amount, making my heart swell too big for my chest. “More than anything in this universe. But you can’t tell anyone.”

What’s the verdict?

Five spooky skulls: 💀💀💀💀💀

I don’t remember what made me pick this book up the first time (probably the cover), but I’m glad I did. Wyn is funny when he wants to be, and he and Danny are the cutest together. The world-building is excellent and it’s paced nicely and is well-written.

If you’re looking for a new read (especially something to get you in the mood for spooky season), then I’d recommend it!

Fancy giving it a read?

Find Soul Eater on Goodreads
Find Soul Eater on Amazon (UK)
Find Soul Eater on Amazon (US)

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