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The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

The Monstrous Child

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Shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award 2016.

May 2016 Book of the Month. Francesca Simon has chosen a singular heroine for her first novel for teenagers. Hel is Queen of the Norse underworld, but never has the eternal teenage cry, ‘It’s not fair’ been more justified. Offspring of giants and gods, she is despised by all; human to the waist, she’s a ‘corpse baby’ - her legs are dangling and gangrenous at birth. Despatched to the Underworld, harbinger of Asgard’s downfall, she nonetheless retains her sharp tongue, her cynicism, her sense of humour and that’s what makes the book so interesting: who wouldn’t want to spend time in this teenager’s company as she works out how to make the best of her situation, unwisely falls in love and reluctantly accepts her fate. It’s an extraordinary novel, dark and grim, but Hel’s energy and vitality will keep readers on her side. ~ Andrea Reece

Costa judges' comments: “An ancient anti-heroine is given a fierce modern voice in this story of gods, monsters and growing up.”


The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon

A stunning, operatic and epic drama like no other. Meet Hel, an ordinary teenager - and goddess of the Underworld. Why is life so unfair? But Hel tries to make the best of it, creating gleaming halls in her dark kingdom and welcoming the dead who she is forced to host for eternity. Until eternity itself is threatened. Francesca Simon's wonderful first foray into teen fiction.

About the Author

Francesca Simon

Francesca Simon spent her childhood on the beach in California, and then went to Yale and Oxford Universities to study medieval history and literature. She now lives in London with her English husband and their son. When she is not writing books she is doing theatre and restaurant reviews or chasing after her Tibetan Spaniel, Shanti.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th May 2016


Francesca Simon

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Faber & Faber


304 pages


Kids' Books
All Shortlists and Winners

Humorous stories (Children's / Teenage)
Myth & legend told as fiction
Fantasy & magical realism (Children's / Teenage)



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