Review: Of Monsters and Men by Caitlin Ricci

The cover of Of Monsters and Men by Caitlin Ricci

This is yet another review of asexual fiction from Dreamspinner Press.

What is this novel about?

Seth works at a pet rescue center, and his boss is a werewolf. Seth like kissing and cuddling guys, but he does not want sex because he is asexual. Furthermore, as a monogamist, he does not handle open relationships very well. He’s fallen into a pattern where he will get into a kissing relationship with a guy, and the guy will say that he is okay with the no sex part, until said guy realizes that he is not okay with the no-sex part, and the relationship ends. Thus, Seth has trouble believing that any particular kissing relationship is going to last long.

But what if he finds someone who is willing to give up sex to have a long-term kissing relationship with him?

What sexual and/or violent content is there in this novel?

There is no sex, however there are many references/discussions of sex, and a scene where a character goes to the bathroom to jerk off. There are references to a minor character’s history of being raped. There is a character who can put thoughts into other people’s minds, and he puts thoughts into their minds which compels them to commit suicide. There is a scene where one character forces another character to take ecstasy (with the intention of enabling sexual assault, though the sexual assault never happens) and the victim’s body reacts so badly that they have to be hospitalized.

Tell me more about this novel

Actually, I want to get straight to the asexuality section.

Fine, tell me about asexuality in this novel.

On the asexuality content scale (1 = least asexual content, 10 = most asexual content), I would rate this novel as an 8.

This novel has an asexual therapy group – as in, a group for asexuals who need therapy. Yay for multiple asexual characters interacting with each other! It’s not entirely clear how Seth got involved with the asexual therapy group, but in the beginning of the story he is only out as asexual to the group and his room mate. One of the nice features of having an asexual therapy group is that it makes it clear that not all asexuals are alike – for example, even though Seth loves kissing, there is a member of the asexual therapy group who thinks kissing is awful. The asexual therapy group also has a problem which, err, is similar to a problem the online asexual community has. I suppose that’s art imitating real life.

Unfortunately, the asexual therapy group is not enough to prevent Seth from feeling like he is doomed to not finding the kind of love he wants to have because he refuses to have sex. I’ve noticed by now that a lot of asexual fiction put out by publishers of LGBTQ+ romance feature the ‘asexual character believes they will never have the loving relationship they want because they don’t want sex’ trope, but this novel goes into this trope much deeper than any other I’ve read so far (which is one reason it gets a relatively high asexuality content score). For example, Seth gets into more than one kissing relationship during the course of the novel, and that the different relationships illustrate different ways that people can react to an asexual looking for a nonsexual kissing relationship.

There is more to be said about asexuality in this novel, but I am reaching the limit of what I can say without getting into spoiler territory.

So do you have anything more to say about the novel?

The werewolf thing is a bit weird, since it … is not as relevant to the plot as I would expect it to be in a werewolf story. That might be because this is a sequel – the werewolf thing might be a lot more important in Rescuing Jack (by the way, one doesn’t need to read Rescuing Jack to appreciate this novel – I certainly didn’t read it – but this novel does contain major spoilers for Rescuing Jack). Being a werewolf is treated as a stigmatized identity, and werewolves ‘come out’ just like gay people come out as being gay. One of the main characters is a gay werewolf who is in the closet about both being gay and being a werewolf, and he is unsure of if, when, and how he would come out as gay and/or a werewolf.

Was this written by an asexual?

I still don’t know whether or not Caitlin Ricci is asexual.

Hey Sara, do you like this novel?

Yes I do. I prefer Crush, which is also by Caitlin Ricci, but I like this one too.

One may buy this novel from the Dreamspinner Store or from various book retailers.

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One thought on “Review: Of Monsters and Men by Caitlin Ricci

  1. Pingback: Reviewing Asexual Fiction from Dreamspinner Press | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

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