Monstrous Devices

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
Monstrous Devices Book Poster Image
Toy robots come to life in fun, creepy European adventure.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Information on the origin of the word "robot" and how tin toy robots came into being. The Jewish legend The Golem of Prague is explained and is central to the story. Geography and sites in Paris, the French countryside, and Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, featured in the story.

Positive Messages

When in danger, you may find you're stronger and braver than you ever imagined. Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing. Love and trust are the most important qualities in any relationship.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alex is a smart kid who calls his adventurous grandfather out on some of his behaviors and decisions. Alex is also a loving caring son and a good friend. Alex's grandfather teaches Alex a lot about life and old legends. He is a questionable influence on Alex, because he leads him into dangerous situations, but he is always fighting on the side of good.


Much of the story's violence is not graphic, but violent scenes occur throughout the book. Alex is bullied verbally, physically, and online regularly (name called, spit on, punched, pushed). A menacing crew of criminals stalk, harass, and injure many characters in the story. Sharp weapons cause bleeding injuries. Guns are pulled on people on multiple occasions. Several fight and chase scenes. Creepy mechanical toys come to life throughout the book, some are used to do harm.



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alex's grandfather smokes a few times, drinks champagne, and drinks from a flask a few times. Each time he tells Alex how terrible those habits are and tells him not to do it.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Damien Love's Monstrous Devices is an adventure and mystery story involving a 13-year-old English boy and his daring grandfather. Alex's grandfather has given him many wind-up toy robots over the years. The latest one is highly sought after by some dangerous people, which sets off lots of dangerous chases and fights in France and Prague. The crew pursuing Alex and his grandfather are creepy, violent, and relentless, and some of the scenes might be too intense for younger readers. The Golem of Prague legend is central to the story, which could interest kids who like myths and fantasy. Family bonds and trust feature prominently and make for good discussion points for families. Other than the chases and attacks, the content is tame, with no swearing or sex and very little drinking or smoking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byme_myself_and_I May 8, 2021

Good for kids

This book has a lot of good things in it to learn from
Adult Written byBaker34 June 1, 2019

Alcohol, gore

I had my son stop reading this halfway through. Violent and scary for younger kids. He was 9 at the time he started it.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In MONSTROUS DEVICES, tin toy robots are anything but toys and a boy's trip to Europe with his granddad is anything but a vacation. Alex lives a quiet life in a British suburb with his mother, going to school and putting up with vicious attacks from bullies. He has a small collection of old tin, wind-up robots from his grandfather, his dead father's father. One day, he receives another robot in the mail, with a note telling him this particular one is very special. Little does he know that this small toy is about to set off a series of chases, battles, and investigations into old legends across France and Prague. Danger lurks around every corner in the form of a mysterious, violent gang and toy robots come to life. While on the run from (and sometimes straight into) perilous situations, Alex tries to unravel his grandfather's secrets, the true story of his father's death, and the mystery around his own early health issues. He learns he's stronger and more resilient than he ever imagined.

Is it any good?

In this fun, fast-paced adventure story, 13-year-old Alex gets way more than he bargained for when he receives a small toy robot from his grandfather. The robots in Monstrous Devices are just that: monstrous. Many come to life and are used as weapons by a mysterious crew hunting Alex and his grandfather in pursuit of Alex's latest robot, which possibly holds the secret to a powerful legend. Author Damien Love creates a wonderful duo in Alex and his grandfather. Alex is a nice, sensible, relatable character, and his grandfather is funny, dashing, and brave. The imagery throughout the book is beautiful. Like the creepy toy robots in the story, the places and unusual characters come alive on the page, putting the reader right in the action with the characters.

The story itself is structured as a series of chase scenes and fights held together with a golem legend and mysteries around Alex's father and grandfather. The excitement in the various battles is well executed and fun, but some of the action gets repetitive after a while. When it comes to many of the questions involving Alex's dad and grandfather threaded throughout the action, the book leaves a little too much hanging. In fact, there's so much left unresolved, it seems a Book 2 must be in the works.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way book and movie characters easily fall into dangerous adventures in fantasies like Monstrous Devices. Why do you think these types of stories are so popular? Can you imagine yourself just going along on a dangerous escapade? 

  • Do legends and myths interest you? Do you think any are based in reality? Why do you think some legends stick around for so long?

  • What do you think of Alex's growth as a character in the book? What qualities of his shine through the most?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and robots

Themes & Topics

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