The Monsters Of Music by Rebecca F. Kenney

The Phantom Of The Opera meets American Idol, The Monsters Of Music is a surprisingly fresh retelling of the classic novel. Prepare yourself to fall in love with the gloomy Mel and talented Kiyo.

The main character Mel is a Leanan sídhe, which is an Irish fairy muse who must pour her creative energy into an artistic protege. Mel stalks a singing contest to find her protege, and she does find one. His name is Kiyo, a boy with a beautiful voice and natural talent. Mel makes the decision to take him under her wing and turn him into a winner. There is one major problem though, for Mel to transfer her powers the protege must kiss her.

The first thing about the book that caught my eye was the very clear and intense descriptions of Mel. Mel was burnt with acid thanks to her abusive father and it left half of her face mangled. for a Leanan sídhe that’s a bit of a problem because she must rely on her looks to obtain proteges. At one point in the book Kiyo describes Mel like this,

“long legs, perfect curves that she tried to hide under a hoodie for whatever reason, and black hair falling over her face, like the ghost girl from The Grudge.”

I found this interesting because Kiyo does not know about her mangled face at this point in the book, yet she still puts off a scary vibe. Kiyo is frightened by a muse, someone whose beauty is supposed to inspire the most gorgeous of artistic works. Yet he compares her to something terrifying without actually knowing her. This description really helped to solidify the person Mel was trying to project herself as.

I also feel like Kenney really knows her stuff when it comes to music, specifically vocal training. I will be honest, I know nothing about singing so if Kenney fudges some stuff she does it in a way that convinced me she was telling the truth. First of all she picks a song list to go with the book and it has a very wide variety, from Grunge to J-Pop, to me that expressed an interesting knowledge about multiple genres. She didn’t just focus on the Hot 100 while she was writing. I liked that. She also seems to understand vocal training as previously mentioned. Specifically when Mel offers Kiyo some morning tea and explains that,

“Coffee by itself is dehydrating, and milk or creamer will clog up your throat. We need you sounding crystal clear and warm as summer, okay?”

I thought this detail was excellent and expressed a certain amount of expertise. Maybe not for someone well versed in vocals but for someone with zero knowledge like myself it was a detail that I found informative.

We have touched on this before in my blog but when a novel makes reference to The Lord Of The Rings I feel a certain respect. Kiyo uses a Tolkien reference to compare a magic mirror that Mel is using to the pool that Sam peers into and sees the Shire being ransacked. The quotes a bit long but it really helps to express the kind of thinker Kiyo is, and helps to drive home the fact that he’s a movie buff.

“Galadriel, in the Lord of the Rings– she tells Sam not to touch the mirror.” Kiyo knew he was talking nonsense, but he couldn’t stop. The words kept pouring out. “Sam looks in, and he sees all this bad stuff happening to his village, and he wants to go home. But the mirror isn’t reliable, of course. Well, it’s less like a mirror and more like a pool of water. Like the Pensieve in Harry Potter. A lot like that. Dang. Wonder if Rowling got the idea from Tolkien.”

I will always enjoy a Tolkien reference, and this one is especially good with the comparison of Harry Potter.

Something else I really enjoy in books is a good antagonist. We can’t really consider Harley the main antagonist but she is really easy to hate. She is entitled, spoiled and just all around a nasty person. She feels like the world owes her a debt and it makes her very hard to like. When she sees Kiyo for the first time she has this to say,

“He was yummy, for sure. And he was hers. She deserved him. Life owed her this– the beautiful boy, the top spot in the competition– all of it.”

This statement is just so nauseating and self-centered. I hated her from that point on. Regardless of what her situation is or how bad her life has been no one is owed to her. No competition should be handed to her.

I only have one issue with this novel and it’s a tonal issue. The language goes back and forth between kiddy and mature. Sometimes the characters use curse words and other times they use the kiddy versions, like freaking or dang. It just seems odd that characters that aren’t afraid to curse would use the less intense versions of each word. It felt like a tone shift and I had to keep reading to figure out if this was YA novel or an adult novel or something else. To me it came off odd.

In all I give this novel a 4/5 stars. I was entertained, it felt fresh, and the characters were likable. Thank you to Rebecca F. Kenney for reaching out to me to review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Monsters Of Music releases TODAY! Check it out!