“Because eating bats hasn’t caused enough problems in 2020, let’s have sex with them!”
– Me as I preordered this book, September 2020
I kid, mostly. Jamie Hawke is no stranger to non-human girls as love interests or as part of a harem, and in many ways his newest release Monster Girl in My Closet feels like a natural step in the right direction for him. It’s a rather fitting book given the Halloween season and one I can readily recommend to anyone who is into the idea of reading a story about a harem of women who are, by our world’s sake anyways, monstrous. The author definitely caters to a very specific subset of audiences with this story, but in that vein I feel he does what he intends to well. I only really have one major issue with the book, and it’s just frustrating enough that some may be too hung up on the issue to see the book to its finish. Shame, that; they’re missing out.
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The story follows Ferris, a graphic designer and visual novel author who is 24, a virgin, and a bit of an extrovert. Naturally the world is about to bend over backwards to make him the main lead. He has a brother who buys him a mystical statue for his birthday, which somehow summons a batgirl. Chirop, as she calls herself, at first has some misgivings about the hero, but the sooner she gets “claimed” the sooner the scent hunters are using to track her is removed, so for her safety and because the main character is kinda cute they both have their first time on the side of the highway in Ferris’s roommate’s car.
Ferris isn’t a bad character, per se, but he’s definitely meant to be a surrogate for the reader. This is, especially at the beginning, rather frustrating. I’m personally over characters who are inexperienced and do little besides exist to have the universe work out a certain way for them. Fortunately as the books go on, Ferris does become more confident in himself and the abilities he learns, and gains a bit of agency outside of “what can I do to either get laid or move the plot forward.” That said, dealing with this character from the beginning is kind of rough, and I could easily see why a reader would put this book down based on this one issue alone.
So in this world it turns out monsters can come from other worlds, and when a monster partner is “bonded” the male they bonded with gets a special power vaguely related to the type of powers the monster girl has. For example, Ferris learns a form of echolocation and acquires a sixth sense for danger – nothing overpowering, but definitely more than he was used to. There’s an encroaching evil, and Ferris being human can’t be commanded the way monster people can be, so he’s quick to shimmy his manhood in any vaguely humanoid animal in hopes of gaining magical powers and saving the world.
This book does a great job of putting the monster in monster girl. Chirop can’t stand most human food, especially anything sweet, preferring fruit and (I kid you not) rodents. Later they team up with a Thunderbird, and while she too has a feminine form, she has to be constantly reminded that no she can’t just kill literally everyone they come across that there is a minor disagreement with. Towards the end a red panda demon girl is introduced; readers will need to wait until the next book in the series to learn more about her, but she acts a lot more comfortable in the human world than the previous two. The character dynamics walk a fine line between harem and furry, and I feel it does a great job of not falling too far into the later. The party dynamics are solid as well, with characters playing off each other their own take on their common goal.
Most of the action of the book is found in discovering how these monster girls were brought over to the human world, and setting up the epic fight that’s about to land on Ferris’s home turf.
Fortunately for the main character at this point, the police that are looking for him (either because they know he’s been in contact with the monster girls and are working with “hunters”, or because he keeps breaking into things to move the plot forward) are all exceptionally terrible at their jobs. Also, given the type of book it is, the female leads don’t waste a lot of time wanting to “get to know” the main character, as it were. There is a sense towards the end that Ferris has grown a bit and isn’t a pushover, and I’m hopeful this will be reflected well in the upcoming sequel.
There is some interesting worldbuilding, and some discussion on what it means to “belong to someone” in a relationship or otherwise. There’s a focus on the importance of one’s real name, and the power having another’s gives. Mostly, though, this novel aims to be a solid monster girl harem romp, and in that it knocks it out of the park. Just gotta get past the main character’s lack of sexual prowess and milquetoast attitude, at least as presented in the beginning.
Monster Girl in My Closet is written by Jamie Hawke, and listed at 310 pages. It can be purchased for $4.99 on Amazon as part of an electronic edition, or read for free as part of a Kindle Unlimited subscription.