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Monday, December 5, 2011

[Review] Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton

Title: Monsters of L.A.
Series:  n/a
Author:  Lisa Morton
Genre:  adult, horror, anthology
Format:  Trade paperback, 321 pages
Publication Date:  October 2011
Published By:  Bad Moon Books
Source:  Publisher for Blog Tour

Synopsis from Goodreads

In these pages you'll find the dark stars you grew up watching: Frankenstein, Dracula, Mr. Hyde, the Phantom, the Hunchback...all the silent ones and the first to find their voices are here, and they're even presented in roughly the order in which they first appeared on a silver screen. The Haunted House of the '30s gives way to the Werewolf of the '40s, the Monsters of L.A. Creature of the '50s, and so on, all the way up to our favorite modern boogeyman, the Zombie.

In some of these stories, you'll find an earthly incarnation of a famous namesake: Frankenstein is a patched-together, homeless vet, the Invisible Woman is so ordinary you'd never see her; but some of these familiar friends - Dracula, the Devil, or those seriously creepy Clowns - will be instantly

My Thoughts

As I have mentioned before, I'm generally not a big fan of anthologies. The reason I accepted Lisa Morton's Monsters of L.A. is because since I have started reviewing I have drifted away from my horror roots and focused more on the ever popular YA novels. With this anthology I thought it would be a great way to work some horror back to my reading in bits and pieces.

There were many things that made this collection quite enjoyable. First off, some of the stories slightly overlap with each other, not enough that you have to read them all in order or miss out, but just enough to make you smile when you read about a character from another story, or an event. It was quite ingenious to weave those in. The best part of this collection is the comparison of the monsters from my childhood, to more modern stories, events and people. And the best thing about this anthology? The writing. The humour alone was enough to leave me in giggling hysterical fits as I rode home on the subway. (Especially a very awesome vampire crack...and if you read it you know exactly what I am talking about!)

I also love how the author provided background information on the stories, however I feel they should have been placed with each story individually instead of at the end as more of a reference. I think it would have made the story to read the background first and then dive in prepared, especially if you weren't familiar with the monster in a particular story.

One other little thing that bothered me was that one longer piece was included, and although I enjoyed it, I feel it should have been left as the very last story in the collection to avoid interrupting the nice flow that was going on up until then.

As usual, I feel the need to rate and review each story separately, not finding it quite fair for each story to be based on the anthology overall grade. This is very time consuming and why I don't do this very often.

Now on with the ratings!

Frankenstein - 5/5
This story fits the Frankenstein model very well. It was a good length, evoked the perfect emotions and was very well written. I loved it!
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - 3/5
I found this story too be too long and often too confusing. I think it would worked better as a longer/novella length piece at minimum. It would have been better to get inside the doctor's head a little more to find out more about the motives for what she was doing. Some parts seemed to be missing and some emotional reactions from the characters also seemed to be lacking. I was not a fan of this story.
The Phantom - 4/5
The Phantom of the Opera has been one of my favourite tales as long as I can remember, and Lisa Morton did a fabulous job with her interpretation. I love the uniqueness she has added by making the phantom a female junkie who was ruined by fame. It was lovely. My only real complaint is that is was way too short and I would have loved to read more.
The Hunchback - 5/5
I'm ashamed to say I have never read the original Hunchback story, but I know the Disney version remarkably well (thanks to having a young Disney obsessed child), so some of the story was unfamiliar to me, and kind of a spoiler at the end, but I can't blame the author for my lack of knowledge. I think it was brilliant that the author used a gay male student who was the constant target for bullies as the Hunchback character. This story was so well written that even though I saw the end coming it was still just as emotional.
Dracula - 5/5
At first I found the humour in this story to be slightly irritating, but once I figured out what was going on I realized just how perfect for this story it was. Dracula being shown as this egotistical movie star was hilarious, especially once he starts getting upstaged by his new on the scene co-star. If this story doesn't make you laugh there is something wrong with you!
The Bride - 3/5
I liked how this story tied in with Frankenstein, but that was all I really enjoyed about it. It was really too short to develop any emotional bond to the main character. The events also came off as too coincidental for me. 
The Mummy - 4/5
This story started off strong but I felt it fell apart as it approached the end. I was left confused as to the motivation for what is going on and how things will move forward from here. (Although a little more does come to light in The Zombie story, but still not enough to make me want to rate it higher.)
The Invisible Woman - 3/5
This was an interesting concept, but I don't think it came together as well as the author hoped. Part of the reason for this is it's too short length. It's always hard to make an idea clear and concise in a limited amount of words, but it's especially difficult when you tackle more difficult topics. I would love to reread this as a longer piece.
The Mad Scientist - 2/5
This story was way too short to be enjoyable. It almost felt as if it was simply thrown in to fill space and cover another monster topic. I really wanted to know more about the doctor and his work, the bond he had with his wife that would lead him to do what he did, and so much more. A little more from this story comes up in The Zombie, but still not nearly enough to make me happy.
The Werewolf - 4/5
I loved the idea of the werewolf as a famous musician who sort of "wolfs-out" on stage to make his music better. I felt really bad for his assistant though and all the stuff that nasty werewolf put him through. The ending left me highly confused as I don't understand why things didn't go another way...of course I can't say why because that would ruin it...but yeah...
The Haunted House - 5/5
I absolutely loved this story. I think it might have been my favourite of the whole collection. It tells the story of an old house and how this ghost hunter show tries to make it into a haunted house to raise their ratings. The house is so upset because all it wants is to be happy and have a family live inside to take care of it, and it feels like these ghost hunters are ruining her chances at happiness. It was fabulously written and I highly enjoyed it!
Cat People 4/5
This was an odd and quirky story. I had no background knowledge of "cat people" so I went into it completely blind. I feel in love with the main character, a young woman who feels like she has been walked all over most of her life and becomes obsessed with this female cat creature because she portrays a strong feminine role. It was quite an interesting read and I did enjoy it. I like how part of it surfaces again in another story.
The Creature 3/5
I'm not overly sure how I feel about this story. It started out very well. I liked the whole creature from the black lagoon coming out of the famous tar pits angle...and I liked everything including the creature as a whole...but once the story spun off into life with one of the characters after the event it lost me, and I started hating it. Sometimes authors just need to know when to end it. Often that is the hardest part...they either gone on too long, or not long enough.
The Alien 2/5
I actually had to go back and skim this story a second time when I came to write the review. It was spectacular, a simple story about a plant that shows up one day and seems to alter the thoughts of those who come in contact with it. The writing was good but the story itself just didn't stand out.
Kaiju (Giant Monster) 4/5
This was an interesting tale about a giant monster that comes out of the water (kind of like a Godzilla) but seems to take extreme care in not hurting anyone...ironically enough it is a human male who does most of the damage as he tries to "save" the people around him.
The Devil 4/5
I really liked this story as well. We have this poor guy who is terrified of haunted houses and he is being dragged to one of those haunted house type rides at an amusement park by a woman he really wants to impress. Obviously he can't wimp out and forces himself to "man-up" for her sake. The ending was slightly unexpected and very well done.
The Slasher 4/5
The writing in this story had a beautiful and creepy flow to it. The whole fascination with the crack in the foundation that draws the main character in is very well done. I think a little of the story that is told by the secondary character is a little over the top, but it is a horror story, so I guess it is to be expected.
The Killer Clown 4/5
This story creeped me out the most. As a small part of the story makes reference to, the clown from Stephen King's It has always scared the daylights out of me, so to me, as to the main character in this story, clowns are scary scary creatures. Add to that that this story has an "It" nightmarish kind of feel to it and you have the makings of many sleepless nights for me in the future. The one things that did bother me with this story is that if my fear of clowns was as crippling as this young woman's...I think my boyfriend would be a little more careful about not only dressing up as a clown for Halloween (that's just pure heartless) but also taking her to a location that has a giant clown as a mascot. Just saying...
The Urban Legend 4/5
I really enjoyed this story, however, due to it's more novella like length I feel like it should have been placed at the very end of the collection. I loved seeing the growth of the main character, especially through her relationships. She was a very strong woman, which was easy for us all to see, but she couldn't realize it herself until the end. I would like to read more from this story...and I actually think the author might have more coming.
The Zombie 5/5
I'm not a huge fan of zombies, but Lisa Morton wrote a fantastic zombie story in this collection. I can't say too much without ruining it, but it nicely weaves together a few of the other stories from this collection and paints a vivid picture of a post-apocalyptic world and the characters trapped within it.

Overall this was a great collection and I highly enjoyed reading it. I'm glad I took the chance on it, and it was wonderful to have a little horror thrust into my world for however short a time.

My rating?


  1. Wow, this actually sounds really interesting! I'm a fan of horror stories and I really love that this is all about the old monsters. I have to say I would read this just because of the Phantom of the Opera story (one of my favourites!) Great review, it was definitely helpful that you reviewed each story on its own.


  2. Thank you Andrea! Reviews of this type are so time consuming it always makes them worthwhile when wonderful readers comment on them! I highly recommend this collection, for the Phantom story as well as the Dracula one and the Haunted House one.