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The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate #3)

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JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden. You are reading this because I am dead. Something te JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden. You are reading this because I am dead. Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider. Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?


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JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden. You are reading this because I am dead. Something te JY Yang continues to redefine the limits of silkpunk fantasy with their Tensorate novellas, which the New York Times lauded as "joyously wild." In this third volume, an investigation into atrocities committed at a classified research facility threaten to expose secrets that the Protectorate will do anything to keep hidden. You are reading this because I am dead. Something terrible happened at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods. When the Tensorate’s investigators arrived, they found a sea of blood and bones as far as the eye could see. One of the institute’s experiments got loose, and its rage left no survivors. The investigators returned to the capital with few clues and two prisoners: the terrorist leader Sanao Akeha and a companion known only as Rider. Investigator Chuwan faces a puzzle. What really happened at the institute? What drew the Machinists there? What are her superiors trying to cover up? And why does she feel as if her strange dreams are forcing her down a narrowing path she cannot escape?

30 review for The Descent of Monsters (Tensorate #3)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~

    Out of the three Tensorate novellas I have read, this one is definitely my favorite. The set up of this novel is a bit different from the first two, expounding on the monster hunting story line established in The Red Threads of Fortune. This one, however, is set up mostly in the form of letters/transcriptions of diaries/official reports. I feel as though this mode of storytelling is particularly well suited to Yang's writing style. In the past two books, I've struggled a bit with feeling as thoug Out of the three Tensorate novellas I have read, this one is definitely my favorite. The set up of this novel is a bit different from the first two, expounding on the monster hunting story line established in The Red Threads of Fortune. This one, however, is set up mostly in the form of letters/transcriptions of diaries/official reports. I feel as though this mode of storytelling is particularly well suited to Yang's writing style. In the past two books, I've struggled a bit with feeling as though certain scenes moved by in such rapid succession that I began to lose my sense of why things were taking place. It's as though I'm seeing the storyboard of the main scenes, but the connection between them is fuzzy or nonexistent. Consolidating these scenes into letters/written accounts by the characters gave this novella a more natural flow & complimented the theme of this particular installment. There were still a couple of places that felt out of sync to me, but generally I was much happier with the construction & pacing of The Descent of Monsters. I also felt myself much more personally involved in the story Yang chose to tell here. It presents a tighter focus on explaining the corruption of the Tensorate, which is something I've been hoping for a more thorough elaboration on since foreshadowing in the opening of The Black Tides of Heaven. I enjoyed the new characters introduced here, and enjoyed seeing old characters make reappearances. It can be difficult to introduce new characters in a meaningful way this late into a series, but I think Yang pulls it off with style & proficiency. And of course I can't review this title without mentioning how much I love the discussion of LGBT+ identities. In particular it's nice to see such a normalization of correct pronoun usage, even amongst enemies. Of course some enemies make no attempt, but that's a realistic portrayal of the issue. Seeing as the author is nonbinary, I think they've done a wonderful job integrating it into such a short series. So far the series has been a handful of hits & a handful of misses for me, but I very much enjoyed this installment & I am excited for To Ascend to Godhood! While I didn’t originally intend to read this for BookTube-a-Thon 2018, it fits one of my challenges & I happened to read the whole thing on day one so I’m counting it! Challenge: Read a book with green on the cover! This review and other reviews of mine can be found on Book Nest! ***I received a copy of The Descent of Monsters in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Tor.com and J.Y. Yang for this opportunity.*** Publication Date: July 31st, 2018

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lucille

    I have CHILLS This was amazing, I liked the first two novellas a lot, the second even more, but THIS ONE topped them in a way I wasn't even expecting. Though they're a whole, a series, and I wouldn't have enjoyed this one without the worldbuilding being set in the previous ones and the background characters present here. I love how JY Yang managed to change things up in this third instalment with the format of letters, reports and journal entries. I also LOVE Chuwan and can't wait for everyone to m I have CHILLS This was amazing, I liked the first two novellas a lot, the second even more, but THIS ONE topped them in a way I wasn't even expecting. Though they're a whole, a series, and I wouldn't have enjoyed this one without the worldbuilding being set in the previous ones and the background characters present here. I love how JY Yang managed to change things up in this third instalment with the format of letters, reports and journal entries. I also LOVE Chuwan and can't wait for everyone to meet this intense dramatic and fun investigator in the face of the horrors she'll unravel. This was so good that I have already finished writing my final review but since it only comes out this summer I'll post it in June to remember everyone of the awesomeness of The Descent of Monsters closer to pub date! ;)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    Oh man this one's tough. 3.5 stars? 4? I've no idea. Review to come!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Psyche Ready

    I've dearly loved each book in this series, but this was the most exciting, action-packed, and compelling of all three. I strongly recommend all of them to those who love fantasy and science fiction, and characters with mysterious, magical gifts for manipulating reality. The third book is different from the first two primarily in that it's like an X-Files narrative: spooky terrible things have happened underground, and it is up to a gang of resourceful misfits to use their strange gifts to find T I've dearly loved each book in this series, but this was the most exciting, action-packed, and compelling of all three. I strongly recommend all of them to those who love fantasy and science fiction, and characters with mysterious, magical gifts for manipulating reality. The third book is different from the first two primarily in that it's like an X-Files narrative: spooky terrible things have happened underground, and it is up to a gang of resourceful misfits to use their strange gifts to find The Truth that is Out There. Every chapter puts together a bit more of the horrible conspiracy--much of the book is letters and transcriptions, which adds to the piecemeal manner in which the narrative is slowly constructed. Yang is very effective at building suspense and I turned pages like mad, dying to know what happened next. This book does feel like a bit of a departure from the first two: it's much faster, a lot more happens, and it's a grittier than the first two. I enjoyed the hell out of this read, so I'm not complaining. Although it does return to the characters you've known and loved in the first two books, they are no longer the protagonists. This new MC is, in my opinion, more of an everyperson--a sarcastic, swearing bureaucrat who hates their job, is pissed off at the powers that be, has no special powers or gifts, and is terrified of the whole situation. I like this character because I can see myself in them more than in the beautiful and gifted Akeha and Mokoya, for instance, as much as I love hearing about them. The world-building around Slack tradition is great: "The Slack" is an energy field that permeates all things and may be manipulated by a gifted few. It's like The Force, but more elemental, earth-based. I love the portrayal (mostly in book 2) of the differences between folk tradition and institutional education in Slackcraft. At the heart of this series, however, is the love you feel for the person you are closest to, and the heartbreak and loneliness of being separated from them. The characters in Yang's books are motivated entirely by that deep and raw love and grief, and they act on those feelings as foolishly and courageously as any of us do. It's wonderful. I would love to be friends with any of them. Anyway, read these books!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Like the other novellas in this series, I absolutely adore Yang's world-building and characters. They weave so many layers into a mere 170 pages--this world feels so deeply real, with such a complicated and violate history (and present). But unlike the fist two Tensorate novellas, this one didn't feel quite as whole and cohesive to me. It felt rushed, and more like an info dump than a story in its own right. Possibly because of the way it was written (a collection of journal entires, letters, re Like the other novellas in this series, I absolutely adore Yang's world-building and characters. They weave so many layers into a mere 170 pages--this world feels so deeply real, with such a complicated and violate history (and present). But unlike the fist two Tensorate novellas, this one didn't feel quite as whole and cohesive to me. It felt rushed, and more like an info dump than a story in its own right. Possibly because of the way it was written (a collection of journal entires, letters, reports, etc.) I found it hard to connect with the characters. It was all completely intriguing (and really brutal and gruesome), and I was never once bored by it. But it didn't exactly leave me satisfied, either. It felt like the beginning of a longer story, and I wanted the rest of it. There were so many moments I wanted to linger within, so may questions I wanted to delve deeper into, so many characters mentioned that I wanted more of. I didn't have this sense with the previous two novellas, which felt very deep and rich and complete, despite being short. I will read anything Yang cares to write in the Tensorate universe, and I certainly don't regret reading this one. It's worth it for the beauty and creativity of the world alone. But I was really looking forward to this one, and it didn't quite live up, unfortunately.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claire Hall

    I like that Yang keeps switching up their style. This book is entirely in the form of materials written by the characters -- letters, diary entries, official reports, etc. -- and it effectively builds a mystery and surrounding intrigue. I give it 3 stars because I wasn't really emotionally invested in the characters, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a well-crafted story. There were little questions I had throughout (view spoiler)[(like why Rider couldn't walk well, or when Akeha had switched pron I like that Yang keeps switching up their style. This book is entirely in the form of materials written by the characters -- letters, diary entries, official reports, etc. -- and it effectively builds a mystery and surrounding intrigue. I give it 3 stars because I wasn't really emotionally invested in the characters, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a well-crafted story. There were little questions I had throughout (view spoiler)[(like why Rider couldn't walk well, or when Akeha had switched pronouns, or how Mokoya got pregnant -- is Thennjay the father?) (hide spoiler)] , most of which left me wondering whether I just wasn't remembering everything from the previous book or whether these were new developments presented in the course of the story. That's the trouble with no exposition: the reader can easily feel as though they've missed something, which can distract from reading the rest. Nevertheless, I will likely continue reading any Tensorate novellas that come out (potentially re-reading the existing ones again beforehand, and more carefully).

  8. 5 out of 5

    enricocioni

    This one felt a bit rushed. Some important moments--investigation findings, key encounters--are summarised in the form of bullet-point lists, when it would have been so much more satisfying for them to get the extended, leisurely treatment they deserved. Also, past the first third, the novella's antagonists fade into a largely absent, nebulous threat, which never felt wholly real, taking away from the moments of peak tension and drama, and making the climax feel unearned. Plus there's the usual This one felt a bit rushed. Some important moments--investigation findings, key encounters--are summarised in the form of bullet-point lists, when it would have been so much more satisfying for them to get the extended, leisurely treatment they deserved. Also, past the first third, the novella's antagonists fade into a largely absent, nebulous threat, which never felt wholly real, taking away from the moments of peak tension and drama, and making the climax feel unearned. Plus there's the usual problem with series--having read the previous two volumes just under a year ago, I'd half-forgotten who most of the characters were, and what motivated them. There's definitely some good stuff here--particularly the way JY Yang achieves different characters' voices, and the fact that they're up for experimenting with form when they could have easily written THE DESCENT OF MONSTERS the same way they wrote the first two books--but, overall, this was fun but forgettable. (Might unpack these thoughts into a longer review--maybe stay tuned.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    JY Yang's The Descent of Monsters is epistolary. I about died of swooning when I learned that. I love reading epistolary. I love writing epistolary. I love studying nonfiction epistolary. This novella is well-written and a fast read. The transcript a quarter of the way in is the legit best — I love it when writers actually include censorship or narrator unreliability in fictional epistolary materials because it's a good reflection of what happens IRL. The pacing was good, the characters all have JY Yang's The Descent of Monsters is epistolary. I about died of swooning when I learned that. I love reading epistolary. I love writing epistolary. I love studying nonfiction epistolary. This novella is well-written and a fast read. The transcript a quarter of the way in is the legit best — I love it when writers actually include censorship or narrator unreliability in fictional epistolary materials because it's a good reflection of what happens IRL. The pacing was good, the characters all have great voice, and the premise is good/plausible in the context of the worldbuilding they've set up over the past few works.

  10. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) If you haven't been reading the Tensorate series, this is your reminder to go do so. It's silkpunk, but it's also so much more. This book draws you in completely. You have to keep reading it feels like a conspiracy theory meets mystery meets horror. It's been a while since I read one and two, but this one hooked me in a way that seems to be unique. I had to keep reading becaus (Disclaimer: I received this free book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) If you haven't been reading the Tensorate series, this is your reminder to go do so. It's silkpunk, but it's also so much more. This book draws you in completely. You have to keep reading it feels like a conspiracy theory meets mystery meets horror. It's been a while since I read one and two, but this one hooked me in a way that seems to be unique. I had to keep reading because this felt right up my alley. It felt like I was being enfolded into the world. I devoured it. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Kvalheim

    Although this is my least favorite of this series yet, it is still wonderful. The representation of nonbinary characters, queer romance, and a fantasy setting not based in western mythology is completely refreshing and are all things I've been trying to get more of this year (and dinosaurs are always a plus). The journal style in this novella is nice, but I liked the characters in the previous novellas more. I highly recommend the whole series and cannot wait to see what comes next.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I just love this series. This one was an interesting follow-up to the first two novellas, departing from them both stylistically and in perspective. This one takes the form of an epistolary mystery, and I think it works really well. It seems lately that I’ve read several books and stories in which the POV character is not the main character, and I find that interesting. In any case, I’m very interested to see how this series continues.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fikri

    All but inhaled this at one go. I loved the Tensorate series before, but this was by far my favourite: creative storytelling, compelling mystery, and brilliant characters. (You could possibly read this without the other two but I wouldn’t recommend it.) It’s short but more than pulls its weight in world-building work, and yet again, I can’t wait for the next one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Sometimes the narrative style was cool. I liked learning things from transcripts and the investigator's notes. Sometimes it seemed a little weak (why bullet point things from letters instead of having the letter on the page?). This world is still super cool, and I'll definitely be back for more. Still loving the diversity of gender identities and the discussion of pronoun usage.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I was sent this as a review copy by the publishers, Tor.com. It will be available on July 31.  I could have had a review copy of Yang's double novellas, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, but they came through when I was feeling a bit rushed and... look, I didn't click the link, and I regretted it, ok? Because then they exploded and everyone was raving and I thought, yes I will get those eventually. And then I got the opportunity to review this sequel, and someone mentioned I was sent this as a review copy by the publishers, Tor.com. It will be available on July 31.  I could have had a review copy of Yang's double novellas, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, but they came through when I was feeling a bit rushed and... look, I didn't click the link, and I regretted it, ok? Because then they exploded and everyone was raving and I thought, yes I will get those eventually. And then I got the opportunity to review this sequel, and someone mentioned that not having read the first two made this one make less sense... so I bought Black and Red, and read those, so I could read this. Which is a long way around to say that all three of these books are excellent and amazing and you should definitely go buy the first two and then read this when you can. I do think that this one requires knowledge of the first two to make the most sense.  On which: in theory you can read Black and Red in either order. I read Black first and I cannot imagine doing it the other way around, maybe because my historian brain really insists on chronology. Your mileage, etc. Tor.com calls this "silkpunk fantasy" which I guess is because it's Asian-inspired instead of European-inspired. I don't really know the origin of silkpunk, although I've come across it before (and yes I know silk originated in China). Interestingly, while I would classify it as fantasy it also has some elements of science fiction - this one perhaps more than the previous two - because one of the chief problems is that a research facility has committed atrocities and has also, um, kinda been destroyed. I don't tend to think of people writing about research into magic-y sorts of things. (If you've got more recommendations about such ideas, SEND THEM MY WAY. Turns out this is something I really, really dig.)  This novella is written from a few different perspectives, using different styles - straight narrative, letters, official reports. The official investigation is being stymied because it's not in the interests of the government to have it all come out, but the investigator refuses to give in. And this leads to characters from the previous novellas being dragged in, and wraps up some of the ends that I didn't even realise were loose, especially from The Red Threads of Fortune.  Yang's work is just... different from a lot of other stuff I've come across. The world building is fantastic - both the world itself, and the way it's described. The characters are complex and refuse to be pigeon-holed; 'diverse' has almost come to be a non-descriptor, but it's so relevant and important here. Motivations are complex, relationships are complex... it's just great, ok? Black Tides is on the Hugo ballot this year. I won't be surprised to see this on the ballot next year. 

  16. 4 out of 5

    Máté

    I really like how all of the "Tensorate" novellas are different genres/styles, yet set in the same world. The story was primarily told through journal entries, memoirs and interrogations, which I thought was an interesting approach. Overall, a fun story, and can't wait to read more in this series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This book is significantly darker and more stylistically adventurous than the first two books in the series, but the world feels so immersive, and the characters are so real, I tore through the book in just a couple of sittings.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Titus Fortner

    Firstly, I really dislike this form of narration. Secondly, this wasn't a good option for listening as an audio book. A few places had weird redacted information and bullet points that made listening difficult. The story was interesting, even if the telling of it was very frustrating.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I love this series. The world building is unique and so well thought out. This wasn’t my favorite in the series only because I just didn’t connect with the main character like I did in the previous books.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    While very different from the other two Tensorate books, I found this one even more compelling. I read all of it except the prologue in a single morning, because I couldn't stop myself. I find myself incredibly eager for more of this story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Claman

    I adore this world, and epistolary novel(la)s are my jam.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Harper

    More intriguing insight into the world of the Tensorate. Not as engaging for me as the second book with Mokoya’s narrative was, but definitely leaves me still wanting to know more.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I really wanted this one to be longer. Epistolary novella suits JY Yang's style but isn't my personal favorite.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adri Joy

    Best of the series so far! Full review to come.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Asher

    This novella is written in the form of letters, transcripts, and dairy entries. It was fascinating but kept me wanting more due to the format!

  26. 5 out of 5

    JZ Ting

    A fantastic array of voices, with Sariman’s in particular spouting fierce and foul-mouthed outrage. And then throw in tension worthy of the first Jurassic Park film. More please.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Bradway

    Awesome world building.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    Rating: 4.5 stars. Review posted at Fantasy Literature.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Galen Strickland

    Maybe I should have re-read the previous novella, and I may before writing a review of this one. I was thinking I had forgotten a few details about how the second one ended. I went back and read everything again, and made minor edits to the previous sections. http://templetongate.net/tensorate

  30. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Martin

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