June 23, 2015 • Cee • Reviews

delicate monsters

Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn  
June 9, 2015
St. Martin’s Griffin
Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository
* Book courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.


[note note_color=”#BFD1D1″ text_color=”#ffffff”]I received this book for free from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.[/note]

First sentence: “A rope course was a shitty place for self-discovery.”

What you can always expect from Stephanie Kuehn’s books: a riveting mindfuck. That is what Delicate Monsters is to a T.

Delicate Monsters is a dark and disturbing exploration of three messed up teenagers—Sadie Su, Emerson Tate, and Miles Tate—who harbor secrets that are extremely unsettling and haunts them every day of their lives. Those secrets won’t stay hidden for long, not with Sadie’s arrival back in her hometown. You’re in for a mindfuck ride, guys.

Why You Should Read Delicate Monsters

  • Stephanie Kuehn’s writing is incredible.

Kuehn never fails to blow me away. Her writing is incredibly beautiful. She doesn’t pull her punches. If she wants to give you extremely disturbing characters, she gives you ones with lots of layers and depth. The subjects she tackles could easily be written in a way that’s cliche and devoid of any interesting characteristics, but how Kuehn write them is incredibly riveting. She’ll capture your attention with the very first line.

  • The characters will captivate you and make you cringe.

These characters are very sick—the kind of sickness that fester as they try to keep it inside.

You have:

  • Sadie Su – recently got kicked out of her third boarding school for nearly killing a classmate; unapologetic of her actions; and master manipulator who’s trying to find some purpose in her life even if that means committing horrible actions against people.
  • Emerson Tate – a poor teenager who knew Sadie when they were younger; seems normal at first, but harbors a secret that is both unsettling and disgusting once you peel his layers off.
  • Miles Tate – Emerson’s little brother; constantly sick; clairvoyant.

Remember, don’t trust your first impression of these characters. They will mislead you. They are the most unlikable and unreliable teenagers you’d ever read about, but they will absolutely enthrall you because of what you find out about them. When their secrets are revealed, your jaws will drop. You really won’t be able to look at them the same.

  • This book is explicit. 

Expect that of the language and the content in Delicate Monster because oh boy! This book explores topics like sex, violence, abuse, mental illness, and sociopathy. Kuehn does not shy away from these topics, and it’s fucking amazing. You will be utterly disgusted and disturbed by these character’s actions and past.

  • The ending is abrupt and open-ended.

It’s very fitting.

How else are you supposed to end a story like this? You can’t simply end it with a “happily ever after” because that’s not the sort of ending for these type of characters. This is a book that doesn’t need a resolution of any kind, not for these characters.

  • Did I already say it’s a mindfuck?

Because holy shit, it is.

I’m in awe of Delicate Monsters because even after reading it, I’m still disgusted, but intrigued by those characters and what happens. It’s like I have a burp that refuses to escape from my throat—it’s very unsettling. That’s the power of awesome writing and characterizations.


You will find yourself juggling being captivated and disgusted by the things that happen in Delicate Monsters. That’s the power of Kuehn’s writing.

However, I do feel like there are things that were underdeveloped, especially when it came to Sadie. I just wanted more of her. I had hoped that she’d insert herself into Emerson’s life more, but she never lived up to her blackmailing ways. I truly wanted her to be a force to be reckon with. Other than that, I did enjoy Delicate Monsters a lot.

If you want a psychological thriller with disturbing, un-cliche characters that will captivate you and make you uneasy, Delicate Monster is definitely a must-read book. You can never go wrong with a Stephanie Kuehn book.


One Response to “REVIEW | Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn”

  1. Alexa S. says:

    While I don’t think Delicate Monsters is something I’d personally enjoy, I have to say that I admire authors who aren’t afraid to be intensely, brutally honest when they write their stories. It sounds like Kuehn really knows what she’s doing!

Leave a Reply