Monstrous: The Rycke – Lily Mayne
Life as a raider in the Wastes, where monsters roam and the military lurks, is as easy as it sounds.
I’ve been out here for a long time, and the fear that courses through my blood every time I have to step outside our camp walls to scavenge never fades. No matter how many monsters you face—and have to run for your life from—it doesn’t ever get easier.
But when I come across a bound and injured monster in an abandoned military base, I can’t leave him behind. His presence in our camp is causing tension, but I can’t bring myself to care when I get to see a different side to him—when he starts to show me who he is, beneath the pain and lingering trauma.
But despite his gentle nature, I soon discover why others are so desperate to own him. Why the military, and now this stranger lurking outside our camp, want to put him back in chains and take him away from me.
There’s something hiding under his skin. Something that threatens to upend my entire life, the one I’ve spent my years carefully protecting out here.
There’s a reason why all other monsters fear him.
The Rycke is Book Three of the Monstrous series, a post-apocalyptic m/m fantasy series that features monsters and human men falling in love. It is best to read the series in order. Warning: This m/m love story contains explicit sexual content and is not suitable for young readers. It also contains graphic depictions of torture and violence, and deals with PTSD.
I wish I read this series sooner because three book in, it’s pretty obvious Monstrous is one of the best MM fantasy series out there! The books should be read in order because each monster/human couple has been a delight so far.
The series is set in post-apocalyptic America, where twenty years ago, a rift allowed monsters to come to earth. The only safe places for humans were the coastlines. The military controlled everything, and those who disobeyed were left to die in the Wastes. However, some chose to live there. Raiders built isolated camps, wore masks and used code names so the military couldn’t identify them.
The third book, The Rycke, is told from the POV of Gage, raider name: Ghost. He and his best friend, Rig, were scavenging through the wrecked army base from Book 1, Soul Eater. They found a chained, injured monster, Aury, who they quickly set free and took their raider camp to heal. To their surprise, Aury is the rycke, a monster so fearsome that even his fellow monsters avoid him.
It was hard to believe because Aury has such a gentle, shy nature. How this kind-hearted, soft-spoken individual turned into a maelstrom of death and destruction was one of the most jaw-dropping scenes in the entire series!
The writing brilliantly lulled me with its fluffy, angst-tinged romantic development akin to the swooniest YA romance. We learned more about the other denizens of the Wastes, the raiders, a mysterious woman with monsters for pets, a rare monster-human hybrid and asshole extraordinaire named Moth who has his own book, and another enigmatic but deadly character named Lilac whose book I’m super excited to read.
Gage is the camp scout, always tasked to make forays to many dangerous places to scavenge or find clues to the whereabout of the camp’s other leader, Cat, who is missing. He hates doing this but feels it’s the only way to make himself useful. It led to antagonistic encounters with the camp’s other leader Anchor, and another nay-saying raider, Cutter.
In one of these missions, Aury snapped! And holy shit, it was beast-mode gone nuclear!
This forced Gage to make life-altering decisions. These were also some of the most heartbreaking scenes where Gage learned how much of a martyr ryckes actually are. Aury and Gage’s story was intensely emotional, and narrator Michael Lesley wrung every emotion out of those scenes. I found myself holding my breath through these pivotal moments. Nearly cried at the part where beast Aury was trying to say Gage’s name.
This book would have been a 5, but the separation scene in the last parts didn’t make much sense to me given that they quickly reunited just because Moth took it upon himself to fetch Aury. The ending was also bittersweet and not as satisfying as, say, Wyn, the Soul Eater making it his mission to have his human, Danny, be with him forever (from Wyn the novella).
The Rycke is another brilliant monster romance. A story of self-sacrifice, friendship, and survival sweeping me away in a whirlwind of tears and feels!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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