Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn – REVIEW

Following the thrills and spills of Dangerous Remedy, the Battalion of the Dead return in a dazzling new adventure, set amid the opulence and squalour of 18th-century London and Paris.

1794, London: Camille and Al are desperately hunting Olympe’s kidnapper. From the glamorous excesses of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to the city’s seedy underbelly, they are caught in a dangerous game of lies and deceit. And a terrible new enemy lies in wait with designs more monstrous than they could ever imagine… Can Camille play on to the end or will she be forced to show her hand?

In Paris, the Duc is playing his own dangerous games. With Ada in his thrall, old loyalties are thrown into question. The Battalion are torn apart as never before, and everything – Ada’s love for Camille, her allegiance to the battalion itself – is under threat.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zephyr.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

“This might fit the plan, but it came at a price and now she wasn’t sure she wanted to pay it.”

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn. I absolutely adored Dangerous Remedy when I read it last year so was eager to find out what the Battalion des Mortes were up to after splitting up at the end of the first book. The story is set in both Paris and England this time. Ada and Guil are in Paris watching the Duc, whilst Camille and Al are tracking Olympe to England. I worried that splitting up the gang would weaken the dynamics that made the first book so good but the author made it work. All the characters were able to grow in their new positions and it was rewarding to follow their character development.

“We never know how our choices will turn out before we make them; we will always grieve the path untaken. But to not choose, to take no path at all? Then we would end up grieving everything.”

The first thing that I loved about this book was that the author included a recap at the beginning. I can’t tell you how much I wish all authors would do this. I don’t always have time to reread prior books in the series so a recap is very welcome. It also meant I could jump straight into the action and not get pulled out of the story as I tried to remember events from book one. 

I’m as surprised as anyone that James turned out to be one of my favourite characters. His character growth was beautifully handled and his redemption arc was wonderful. Family relationships continue to be at the forefront of this series. The complex and sometimes toxic familial dynamics are nuanced in their portrayal. I especially enjoyed being introduced to Olympe’s mother but I won’t say any more about her for fear of spoilers!

“It’s not really a Bataillon des Morts plan if it doesn’t go wrong, is it?”

Like the first book, Monstrous Design is fast paced with short moments of breathing space for the reader to process what’s happening. The bonds between the Battalion des Mortes were strengthened and fleshed out even further thanks to the division of the group. The scene is set for the third book (which I think is the final one) with the Battalion ready to fight for the fate of France. I’d definitely recommend this series if you’re looking for an atmospheric YA fantasy/historical fiction with an incredible cast of characters.

(Goodreads | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones)

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