The Monk - Matthew Gregory Lewis, Howard Anderson, Emma McEvoy I must say, this was a good, well written book. It's got a deep, unfolding storyline that has multiple layers that constantly provide you with entertainment. Not to say that it's fast paced, but it plods along in its own way. It's a dense read though, and it takes some time to get through it, even for a fast reader. Plus, like some books, it's got a group of characters that can be hard to keep track of--the transitions between some scenes or who is speaking to whom makes things difficult to follow along to at times, so you can find yourself lost in several places when names especially aren't always mentioned. But to further complicate that, you've got a lot of relationships going on in this book, all of which are interrelated and connected somehow, which leads to a classic domino and push-and-pull effect throughout many points of the book.

Still, for all that the book gives you a fair share of interest, it can get old fast. About halfway through this decently long read, I found myself wishing that a conclusion would finally come along and eyed the rest of the pages wearily. Did it keep me entertained enough at least to keep going? Yeah, actually, it did.

But what really turned me off--more so than the plot... okay, maybe it's the plot somewhat too--are a handful of the characters.

I must say, when it comes to characters, you've got a decent bunch of people here. You've got the pairs throughout the book that all have their crazy adventures, eventually bumping into each other, affecting one another's lives in terrible and wonderful ways... Ambrosio and Rosario/Matilda, Raymond and Agnes, and Lorenzo and Antonia/Virginia. You meet all of them fairly early, but their initial meetings seem off compared to how they eventually turn out at the end of the book. In fact, many of them end up going through quite a few flips before you finally finish the reading, and for the most part, it's mildly entertaining.

But here's the swift rundown of things: Antonia is beautiful and completely ignorant, thus, innocent. Agnes is in love with Raymond, but falls victim to a prick of a Prioress (head nun basically) who tries to pass her off as dead while keeping her secretly captive as punishment for trying to break her vows. Then you have Lorenzo who is just a guy who likes a girl. Raymond, who loves Agnes, does his best to save her from needing to keep her vows of dedicating her life to a convent and goes through a couple of magical, heroic, and obnoxious-family-in-law related escapades to do so. Virginia is a minor character until almost the very end of the book, but is a good gal all around and has an honest, endeavoring heart without being annoying to boot, so I like her. And on a final-ish note, we have Rosario, who was really quite cute. He's another monk who totally has a thing for Ambrosio--the hot shot around there--and you are absolutely getting yaoi vibes from them with their boy-love thing going on. Though how much can you expect? They're still both monks. Nonetheless, it's cute and sweet. You really can't help but like that part, and Rosario's a swell guy for most part. Really liked him.

Then we come to the pompous windbags that need to seriously die.

Let's start off with Mr. Ambrosio. Top of the monastic order, practically a saint in the eyes of ALL of the city. People compare him to the Pope because he's so perfect, so dedicated to his religion, and all this other stuff. Well, turn all the bull of the people inside-out, he's just a prideful, vain little bastard who doesn't know what the word Mercy means and thinks he's the best thing since God. In fact, throughout almost the entirety of this book, I kept thinking, "My God! This prick is just like Light Yagami from the manga/anime Death Note!" Which of course means that the sooner the jerk gets offed and I see him rotting in Hell, the better! Seriously! What a crook! He sentences a woman who sins against her vows (Agnes) to eternal shame and potentially death and destruction in the eyes of the entire world--denying her her one shot at happiness with her true love since long before she even took these vows, and he only does it because he thinks if he doesn't that he'll get in bad with God! "I'll be an accomplice!" he claims! What a selfish jackass! To make things worse, then HE goes off and starts screwing around like a horn dog with this girl, Matilda (and oh, I'll get to her in a moment). And what! PAH. Doesn't think ONCE on the fact that he's doing what Agnes did once and for MUCH BETTER REASON THAN HIM. Two-faced, hypocritical bastard! Not to mention that afterwards, when he gets bored of Matilda, he sets his sight on the innocent/perfect Antonia.

I'm digressing for a moment but, now, you think Antonia'd be annoying cause she's ignorant as can be and supposed to be flawless, but know what? Compared to the baseness and vileness of Ambrosio, I'd take Antonia any day! Besides, Antonia starts to develop feelings for our lovely Lorenzo, and you just know they'd be a lovely couple together. So you can't really help but want the poor creature to find love with Lorenzo, especially since he's such a swell guy.

But back to the prick. SO Ambrosio thinks, "Well hey! She's got a bangin' body! I WANT HER." and aspires to do NOTHING... NOTHING for the rest of the damn book but TRY TO SEDUCE ANTONIA. UGH. As if THAT wasn't obnoxious enough, the guy grows more violent and desperate and base the longer he goes without her. And know what's really messed up? He's not above violence and murder in order to fuck her. And no, just just fuck her. But bloody raping her!! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY?! Seriously, you're just BEGGING for someone to RIP HIS GUTS OUT by the time you get to even the HALFway point of the book. Just like, PLEASE. Please. Someone completely RUIN this guy's LIFE already!!! Cause if anyone deserves it, IT'S HIM.

But ah, now let's make a little intercession here. ON... to Matilda.

Oh my God... she's a fricken' PSYCHO STALKER!!!!!! And that's not all, she's also got VOODOO MAGIC. And the woman's batshit crazy. LIKE LITERALLY EVIL. EEEEEVILLLLL. At first you're like, "So you're totally leading Luke to the Dark Side I see," and she "corrupts" Ambrosio--(more like she just throws open the damn doors so he can be a flaunting, high-and-mighty TWO-TIMER). Yeah well, we all see how well that works out for her. But it's not just the sex for her, ohhhh no. She's not in this for a relationship. It doesn't take long to see that Matilda's got waaaaay bigger plans than just corrupting the "noblest" and "purest" monk in all of the city/country/whatever. No, she's seriously there at every single turn, leading Ambrosio into every "bad" decision. She's playing for keeps here--it's not just one sin she's going for, this crazy chick is practically Satan herself! In fact, even though we have Lucifer make a guest appearance supposedly a couple of times, I'm more liable to count Matilda as Satan than him, she seems so much more the deceiver and conniver! BAH. And after a point, this gets ANNOYING. Because you're sitting there, just drumming your fingers on the table or tapping your foot, watching this and saying to yourself, "Really? Really? He's going to fall for that too? What a dumbass!"

It gets really old, really fast watching Matilda lead Ambrosio further into corruption. You just get disgusted with him. He's a pig. And he's a disgrace to common decency, period. Heck, I can read some pretty bad stuff, but he just pushes the boundaries! Seriously!! How far can this man GO before he realizes, HEY. MAYBE I SHOULD STOP. GEEEEEZ what a prick!!

Overall, my ranting's done. Sorry for all of it, but after 456 pages, it had to come out somewhere. This book was a decent read, and know what, I'd recommend it to those who feel they want a read they can push through for the experience. Coming away from it, I'm more glad that it's done than I am rejoicing at anything memorable that happened in the story. You come away more wanting to rant about what happened than you are coming away thinking that it was a good read. And like I said, it's a well written book. It definitely is. No complaints there. You've got your fumbles with the transitions and the character interconnections, but it's not a bad read. Heck, at least it gets you talking! Of course to talk about it, you've gotta first convince someone else to read it with you. ;D

Either way, this one is a so-so for me. You can risk it, and if you can endure it, kudos to you! Is the end worth the wait? Eh... sort of. Really, it's about the endurance and saying you did it just to get it checked off a list. If you wanna try it out, by all means! Have at it! But fortify yourself first, cause you may not be feeling the same way once you're a certain amount in. Still! For fun, why not!

My final advice: Try it out at your own risk!