Sad Monsters by Frank Lesser with illustrations by Willie Read (book review).

In ‘Sad Monsters’, we have a set of diary extracts from Godzilla, who overslept by five years and wakes up grumpy because of it. He is racked with doubts like why bother destroying Tokyo as they are only going to rebuild it?


Professor Bonnebody has written a character reference for an Abominable Snowman named Tulpa, who wants to move somewhere warmer and get a job with ‘Vogue Magazine’ in New York.

Correspondence between Count Radu and Julie and is part of a love triangle. Radu is a human that can turn into a bat. Julie saw the Count with a woman named Seveva, who is actually a bat who can turn into a human.

We also have a copy of Igor’s business resume which details all the people he has worked for in the past. This is because he wishes to change employers.

The Gremlin Owners Manual starts off by talking about the rules. We all know about the first three. Here we get to rule 16, before the writer finally admits that you would be better off retuning your gremlin for a refund.

A college student is sharing rooms with Dorian Grey. He doesn’t really want to complain but is writing to moan about the large, ugly picture hanging on the wall in the living room and could Doran please remove it.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, this book is all about monsters, but from a different, more humanising and sympathetic perspective using letters from different creatures to the humans in their lives. This book contains forty-two different chapters on these non-human creatures that your mother never warned you about.

Depending on your viewpoint, you could read this as a comic tragedy, giving insights into the human condition about being different, being lonely and wanting to be liked. The creatures are given human characteristics, lovelorn, sad souls meeting new partners, having disagreements, falling outs, anxieties and social phobias. It puts relationship issues into a different context. It becomes very funny and rather comical. Rather than a wolf in sheep’s clothing, this is a horrible monster that is also suffering problems of loss, abandonment and loneliness.

A modern day reworking of all these horror stories, characters from the black and white films, with a few folk tale monsters thrown in for good measure. Although it includes banshees, it doesn’t include Boggats or Trolls. Frank Lesser has done a very good job of anthropomorphising the monsters into people with names and feelings, helped by the illustrations of Willie Read, which really make the monsters in each chapter come alive..

Although this book is a brilliant idea, it could have been developed further. Some chapters are just lots of little snippets, such as the email queries and replies. These are a bunch of assorted queries and replies. Not a string of correspondence between one pair of characters and don’t really work as well, story wise because of that. I enjoyed reading the letters between Count Radu and Julie, Godzilla’s diary extracts and the character reference written by Professor Bonebody about Tulpa.

I found this book seriously weird. Frank Lesser has a very dry sense of humour. If you enjoy quirky stories, this is the book for you. So long as you don’t mind laughing out loud in mixed company.

Not a large doorstop of a book so it’s quite easy to read on the bus or train to work with lots of short chapters and brilliant illustrations of the different characters. You will never look at a zombie or werewolf in the same way again.

Jill Roberts

February 2014

(pub: Souvenir Press Ltd. 180 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-28564-232-4)

check out website:

2 thoughts on “Sad Monsters by Frank Lesser with illustrations by Willie Read (book review).

  • Just a mild observation, really… What the hell is a ‘small enlarged paperback’?

  • Hello Julian
    In the old days, there were only hardbacks and paperbacks of a particular size. When publishers released trade paperbacks, they were essentially a paperback hardcover of the same size.
    However, these trades come in a variety of sizes now and not always necessary compare to the hardback version.
    Publishers also issue smaller sized hardbacks and a size up from paperback trade size as well.
    Rather than just call the intermediary sizes trade paperbacks, I thought it would make more sense to give a more descriptive term so you can see whether the particular edition reviewed can fit on your bookshelf.
    Hence: small enlarged and large enlarged paperbacks.
    Does that make sense?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.