What happens when a fragment of an eldritch entity decides a human looks like a potential girlfriend instead of a potential snack? Marie Cardno’s novella How to get a girlfriend (when you’re a terrifying monster) poses in short form, an answer.
Written like a passionate ‘drabble’, the reader is flung directly into the story, beginning with introducing Trillin, the fragment of Endless who is discovering that she enjoys being a separate entity, despite being tiny in comparison to the endless mass of eldritch horror that she is no longer part of. And then, she meets someone. Well, meets is a very generous term. She observes in great detail the shape and form of this someone. Trillin’s personality, and the humour of Cardno’s writing, comes through loud and clear as Trillin tries to mimic the unchanging form of the new person…
“Her body was … not like the newcomer’s. It has too many limbs, to start with. Small skitter limbs. She had made lots for practise, but now there were too many.
And her body had too many eyes too, if the two the newcomer had were the number people were meant to have.
And a tentacle.
The newcomer didn’t have any tentacles.”
As captivated as Trillin (once she named herself) was with the newcomer-human, she was not alone in this fascination. It turns out this new (attractive) person was a witch called Sian, and Sian thought that the local who was standing around her portal was really hot.
What then follows is a relatively fast paced, perspective switching, wild ride from the plane of the Endless, back to Dunedin, and then around the magical portion of Dunedin University. This book certainly leans into the trope of wlw being vaguely hopeless in romantic pursuits, as both Trillin and Sian (especially Sian) constantly put their most awkward foot forward. Although I would say that I identified more with Trillin than Sian (how to be a convincing person? Am I supposed to know what ‘normal’ is?), Sian’s attitude of Act First, Plan Later both forced the plot along, and also stirred some surprising sympathy when this inevitably left her in the lurch.
The two supporting characters are written with snappy descriptions, leaving the reader to wonder (or not) if the thoughts of Sian accurately represent these characters, and if she has any friends that aren’t barely-tolerated work associates. With a dash of academic humour (don’t worry we will find something to spend the grant money on), and plenty of pining and confusing, How to get a girlfriend when you are a terrifying monster will enchant a wide range of readers.
How to get a girlfriend (when you're a terrifying monster)
by Marie Cardno
Published by Paper Road Press
ISBN: 978199115032-5 (paperback) 9781991150356 (ebook)
Karlia, Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library