Happy Halloween! The Never Tilting World author Rin Chupeco joins us to share five books that subvert the monster trope.
Monsters are a huge part of fiction — and not just during this time of year! The Shape of Water is a recent example of a film that subverts the monster trope, but it’s just one of many.
In the same vein, Rin Chupeco is here to give us some incredible books that also subvert the monster trope. Be sure to check out her list below, and then read more about her upcoming novel, The Never Tilting World.
The top 5 books subverting the monster trope
By Rin Chupeco
Monsters are supposed to be the bad guys. They’re the whole reason for horror books. They’re the inexplicable evil, the stilted and the strange. They’re the unmentionable phantoms that creep down cupboards and ceilings at night, and the corporeal dead that feasts on human flesh. There’s no reason for them to be murderous and malevolent. They just are.
But sometimes, they’re not.
Sometimes the worst evil is the devil you know, the humans that need no grimoires or demonic natures to be malicious entities in their own right. Sometimes the monsters aren’t the villains, but the conscience. Monsters are monsters because their natures, as unnatural as they might be, compel them. It’s humans that constantly go against nature, and that might be the more frightening of the two.
It’s no secret that I love books where monsters subvert their own tropes, and these are five of my favorites.
‘The Graveyard Book’ by Neil Gaiman
When you write a book set in a literal graveyard, the last thing you would expect when a toddler inadvertently wanders into it is for him to be cared for and raised by its undead inhabitants. But that’s exactly how the book goes; the cemetery ghosts adopt little Nobody Owens as their own, a reformed vampire pledges to protect and feed him, and a werewolf serves as his tutor. And while there’s a lot of reasons why everyone wants to see little Nobody survive, both because of and in spite of their affection for him, what really sells the story to me are all the numerous journeys Nobody goes on with his ghoulish family on hand to support him — how many fictional families can claim that?
‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness
It sounds like every boy’s worst nightmare: a monster larger than your house, coming for you every night past midnight — until you realize that it’s there to help you deal with other things that are much scarier than itself. Patrick Ness has an extremely compelling way of taking the concept of monsters and successfully using them as a vehicle to process grief and trauma, and I love that!
‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak
This was such a short story, but it’s so effective at being able to explain how kids process their frustration and anger in different ways, and how they can themselves see that anger brought to life using fantastic creatures and monsters as a vehicle for their emotions. The island where these strange monsters live function as a safe place where they’re allowed to vent their feelings without censure, and to feel validated while doing so.
‘Vampire Princess Miyu’ by Narumi Kakinouchi
It’s not a well-known series outside of Asia, but VPM was a huge influence on my writing and on how I subvert monster stereotypes in my own books. Miyu is a vampire born of a human and another vampire who is tasked with capturing and returning fellow vampires back into the darkness, to prevent them from harming other humans; when the last has been rounded up, she would follow them into the dark (which she yearns to do) and finally find peace. While she’s considered a protector of humans, she does this more out of principle rather than out of any real concern for them, though sometimes her fascination for humans and her increasingly complicated relationships with some of them make it difficult to keep her distance.
‘Enchanted Forest Chronicles’ by Patricia Wrede
Almost every fairy tale story follows the same narrative: princess is kidnapped by a dragon, prince arrives to slay the dragon, prince rescues the princess. Princess Cimorene decides this isn’t going to be her story, and instead joins up with the dragon in the hopes that they can teach her more than just boring princess duties. It’s a perfect subversion of the dragons-are-evil motif, and I love how it gives both of them more agency than so many other stories would have allowed for. It’s easily one of my favorite series of all time.
About ‘The Never Tilting World’
A world split between day and night. Two sisters who must unite it. The author of The Bone Witch kicks off an epic YA fantasy duology perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon — until one sister’s betrayal split their world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun.
While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City — each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Told from four interweaving perspectives, this sweeping epic fantasy packs elemental magic, star-crossed romance, and incredible landscapes into a spectacular adventure with the fierce sisterhood of Frozen and the breakneck action of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Book Depository. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.
Fan of our book coverage? Why not join our Hypable Books Facebook group!
We want to hear your thoughts on this topic!
Write a comment below or submit an article to Hypable.