Monster by C. J. Skuse

At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.

Set in a boarding school called Bathory which emanates old-school charm, this book is a pleasant surprise with a tinge of romance and mostly suspense/horror towards the ending. The setting and plot were quite realistic and I had no trouble imagining the scenes in my head. 

I loved how Nash was still so responsible and level-headed even when her brother had been missing for days on a trip and probably dead someone halfway around the globe. However, I loved that she had fire inside her too, which she only let go when she couldn't contain it anymore. 

The first 100 pages or so went to world-building, not much action except the occasional fights and mini-Wiki of the Beast. I think it should be slightly trimmed, cos it does get boring if nothing happens after the first 50 pages. The real action starts when Nash discovers that the Beast of Bathory was hunting them when the girls were trapped alone inside the building with limited food supplies and they had to prepare themselves for what is to come. 

The Beast was rumored to have killed several villagers and livestock throughout its reign in Bathory, but the true identity of the killer caught me by surprise. My mouth tasted acrid as I feared for my favourite characters' survival. My only complaint for this book is that the introduction of the Beast during Nash's very first sighting of it seemed a little comical - I had hoped that it would be scary or somewhat bone-chilling. 

Overall, it did give me some chills, especially towards the end of the book. I devoured this book in one sitting, and it was indeed tremendously enjoyable. Add this book to your shelf if you enjoy YA, suspense and horror!