Parents' Guide to

Blessed Monsters: Something Dark and Holy, Book 3

By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Satisfying trilogy ender has monster romance, gory violence.

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This bloody but ultimately redemptive finale has some problems, but it will deeply satisfy fans and readers of this dark fantasy trilogy. The most fulfilling aspect of Blessed Monsters is the author's skillful character and relationship development as she brings together fractured threads from the previous books. The characters, battle-weary and traumatized, finally open up to one another and realize the only chance they have to save the world is if they seek to understand their different perspectives and protect one another. Nothing magic happens -- they fall in tenuous love, argue and wound, make up and, at last, allow hope to take root. These memorable monster-god, old-god-made, gods-touched, magic-empowered friends are the best kind of heart-stealing characters.

The biggest problem of this book (and the series) is the pre-Industrial Russian and Polish-inspired setup. Some readers may be reminded of anti-Semitic-fueled pogroms and discrimination the Russian Empire enacted toward Jews after it claimed Poland in the late 1700s. The Tranavanian cult called the Vultures may also bring to mind an association with modern-day Neo-Nazi conspiracies about secret so-called "cabals" of Jewish people running shadow governments around the world. Duncan has publicly admitted she was aware of the implications, but thought she dealt with them sensitively, and now recognizes that she fell short. Regrettably, for some readers, the parallels cast a dark shadow over what is otherwise a deeply immersive, thoughtful, and compelling series ender.

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