Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago's lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family's decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses—though curbed by his biological and chosen family's communal care—threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life.
An unearthly hybrid that’s part horror, part literary meditation on grief, part wildly entertaining tale of an impossible being forced to live in the shadow of the dead boy he replaced. At once heartbreaking and unapologetically strange, this is a cross-cultural, syncretic, folksy, razor-sharp narrative about the horrors of grief and the eternal debate over nature versus nurture ... The first part is a superb introduction, the second an exploration of love and loneliness, the third a slightly meandering look at the way we rebuild after a huge loss. But the last part is the crowning jewel of this unique novel ... Monstrilio packs in a lot, and the author pulls it off brilliantly. It is at once dark and tender, at times bleak, but balanced with humor that borders on slapstick ... An outstanding debut.
Disturbing yet touching ... Truly unsettling at times, the story often leans towards magical realism, depicting a reality where fantastical elements exist and tragic events become a palpable entity. In this universe, sentient and growing pieces of lung are as plausible as death itself.