(Adult Gothic Fantasy)
We Are Monstrous is a dark fantasy that toes the lines between horror, fairy tale, and erotica. With heavy gothic undertones, this 65,000-word novel is a retelling of two classic fairy tales with a Dracula twist and an all-female cast.
This book does bear trigger warnings for violence and sexual scenes, some of which involve blood play (one character is a vampire, after all). This one is for the monster-lovers out there. You know who you are. 😉
Any living thing Lyra touches crumbles to ash, its life force drained by the demon that clings to her and whispers thoughts of murder. After several horrific incidents, she has sequestered herself far from any potential victims in a dark and magical woodland.
But the Church’s witch-hunters have heard rumors of a demon’s host hiding in the forest. When they find her, Lyra flees to the mysterious, enchanted castle that lies at the heart of the haunted woods. Her deadly touch forges a temporary path through the magical brambles that circle it, sheltering her from the hunters who cannot pass through the thorns.
The castle is a hollow, eerie place, its citizens trapped in time like flies in amber. All save one: the castle’s deadly protector. The Beast, as she calls herself, is also host to a demon–one that cursed her home and twisted her into a hideous creature with a craving for human blood. The undead Beast is the first person who has ever been able to bear Lyra’s touch and survive.
The moody, arrogant Beast offers Lyra sanctuary, knowing that the witch may be her only chance to break the curse and free her from the demon’s grasp.
Lyra and the Beast become intimately entangled as they race to outwit their demons and solve the castle’s mysteries. Despite the Beast’s grotesque appearance and a number of suspiciously missing castle inhabitants, time spent with the creature begins to spark something new inside Lyra.
The Beast bears many secrets, corpses best left unearthed. But when Lyra’s bloody past comes to light, the Beast wonders if perhaps she has met her monstrous match.
Nothing feels cold to the dead.
My chilled fingertips matched the temperature of the stone wall they caressed. While I walked down the darkened hallway, I trailed my hands along the ridges of the mortar and the smoothness of the polished blocks.
Shirryn followed behind me, a faithful lapdog of a demon. Or perhaps I was the dog, paraded before her on an invisible leash.
You’re exceptionally melancholy today, Shirryn complained. Even for you.
I ignored her.
As always, I skirted around the blonde seamstress in the narrow hallway, caressing her warm cheek lightly with a clawed nail. She didn’t so much as flinch when I touched her. No shiver, no wince, nothing. She stood in the exact same position she had for ninety-nine years, her lips frozen into an eternal ‘o’ of amused surprise while she stared at an empty space.
It was empty, of course, because I had already claimed her companion. Someday, I’d come back for her, too. I couldn’t even remember her name, though I was certain I’d known it once.
I tugged on my velvet coat, settling it into its proper place. A few wardrobes in the castle fit me passably well, but the tailoring was always just a bit off.
Why do you even bother? Shirryn asked. I’m the only one who sees you.
I passed a mirror and admired the snowy white of the jacket, the deep purple of the embroidery and trim. A rich color. An aristocrat’s color.
My eyes skated past the horror that was my face. “It pleases me.”
Finally frustrated with my mood, Shirryn left. She knew I’d not feed her tonight, not so soon after the last.
The silence that fell in her wake was welcome. The eerie quiet probably should have left me unsettled, but one could become used to anything, given decades.
What to do with my day? It was all such a dreadful monotony now. Idle board games played by myself, books to read, languages to learn, tidying to do. Today, I wandered without purpose until my steps took me into the great hall.
Here the silence was broken. The large clock at the front of the hall still ticked, still chimed the hours. It even counted down the days and years. The device had been spared the curse only to torment me, to let me know just how long I’d been trapped in this endless purgatory.
Soon enough my failure would be complete. Shirryn would win, and we both knew it.
As if summoned by my thoughts, the demon darted through the stone wall, the flickers of red inside her shadowy form sparking madly in irritation.
“So?” I barked a bitter laugh and gripped the back of an empty chair hard enough that my claws dented the wood. “They’ll be turned aside by the brambles, just like all the others.”
No, Shirryn spat. She’s already inside.
Hope flickered in my breast, followed by embarrassment. I should not still feel such useless things. But there it was all the same. “What? How?”
She is also host to a demon.
Cursed, as I was. What did the intruder want of this place? Others had tried to get in, of course. Shirryn had gleefully informed me of each attempt, each failure, every gruesome death at the mercy of those enchanted thorns that surrounded our walls. What did they expect to find in the enspelled castle. Riches? Magical wonders?
I didn’t know. Trapped here as I was, I hadn’t the faintest clue what rumors flew out in the wide world. Perhaps the Church’s influence had swept across the kingdom, and they merely wished to cleanse the land of this magical, unholy blemish.
Then the hall echoed with something I hadn’t heard in a very long time.
Another person’s footsteps.
She entered through the main doors, cautious and curious. The woman didn’t look like much. But as unimpressive as she was, my heart swelled.
Whether she knew it or not, this woman was my one and only possibility of salvation.