Title: Kip’s Monster
Author: Harper Fox
Length: 232 Pages
At a Glance: Kip’s Monster is another winning read from an author who is always willing to go out on the proverbial limb to offer something just a little bit different to her readers.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: John “Oz” Osman is sure he’s got everything under control. His dad has ditched out on him in favour of a brand-new family abroad, and his teenage sister is bouncing off the walls with rage, but Oz is determined to cope: he’s dropped out of university and taken a boring, responsible job. He’s got it all covered. Doing everything his dad should’ve done.
He’s even let go of the love of his life. No room for Kip in Oz’s new grown-up world. Kip is charm and trouble in equal measure, with a good dash of substance abuse thrown in. He’s also ruining a brilliant career in biology by his obsession with cryptids – monsters, as Oz sees them – the yetis, lake beasts and giant squids no sane man would waste his time chasing around the world. Yes, Oz is better off without him.
But Oz has a grandmother who remembers how happy Oz used to be with Kip at his side. With his best interests at heart – and a few schemes of her own – Gran sets the pair up for a reunion.
Kip and Oz have loved each other since the day they first met – but sometimes love isn’t enough. When disaster strikes their second-chance relationship, Kip takes refuge at Camp Saorsa, a remote community of cryptid hunters near Scotland’s Loch Ness.
If there’s one thing Oz is not about to believe in, it’s the Loch Ness monster. He’s not sure he believes in anything anymore, and his happy life with Kip feels like a lost dream. Will the magic of a far-flung Scottish winter be enough to draw these two lonely souls back together, and what mysteries lurk in the depths of the ancient loch?
Review: Kip’s Monster is a novel that deals candidly with the subject of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, but in a way that I would expect only author Harper Fox to incorporate into a storyline. In other words, in an uncommon and captivating way.
John ‘Oz’ Osman has not had it easy, losing his mother to her addiction and his father to another woman. Oz’s dad abandoned him and his troubled teenage sister, Jules, hying off to America and a new family and leaving them with their grandmother. Since then, Oz has dropped out of uni and taken a job he dislikes, assuming the mantle of responsibility for Jules’s upbringing. Amidst all the upheaval, he also broke things off with the man he loves—whose own addictions were more than Oz was willing or capable of handling. But now, it’s a year later and thanks to a little maneuvering by his Gran, the love of Oz’s life, Joe ‘Kip’ Kipton, is back and hoping to rekindle things with Oz. He has promised Oz his alcoholism is under control. And it is. But that doesn’t mean Kip isn’t carrying another monkey on his back. It also means that in a short five-and-a-half days, Oz is right back where he started: heartbroken and alone, angry and overwhelmed, but he’s also worried when Kip disappears so with more than a little nudge from his grandmother, Oz sets out to find his missing ex, the man who chases monsters, and in the process discovers a Kip he never knew, a Kip that is a lie.
“Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence” is a rather lovely definition of the word faith. Leave it to Fox to weave this seemingly simple but inherently truthful observation into a book in such a way that it applies to varying aspects of the story. When I said that Kip chases monsters, I meant it in the literal sense. He’s a chaser of cryptids: Bigfoot, anomalous big cats, the Loch Ness Monster, essentially any creature of legend that has been neither proved nor disproved, and he’s basing his PhD on the importance of biodiversity to sustain both the known and the unknown. It’s on the shores of Loch Ness that Oz finds Kip, in a cold and dirty caravan on a campsite filled with Nessie aficionados of all sorts, drugs flowing freely, in the throes of what could have easily become pneumonia had Oz not risked life and limb to get to him. It’s Oz’s love for Kip that keeps him at Kip’s side; it’s his love for Kip that causes Oz to examine the line in the sand he’s drawn between accepting Kip, addictions and all, or leaving and being just as miserable without him. But there’s a deeper underlying factor to Kip’s condition. One that Oz will discover in time, and one that will make all the difference in their relationship.
Harper Fox’s books are often a reminder that the lack of everyday miracles might be owed to how often we fail to see what’s right before our eyes, that we don’t notice the wyrd because we don’t believe what we can’t explain. I love the way Fox used the term monster to mean different things to different layers in this story, more especially in its positive connotations with respect to Oz. She also populated this book with a cast of memorable characters, two of whom offer the story a juxtaposition of reality and the extraordinary. I adored Oz’s grandmother, her wisdom and gift for knowing what everyone needed and how to achieve it. There is a poignancy to the story, but it is also a story of hope, the uplifting moments contributing to the overall romance. Kip’s Monster is another winning read from an author who is always willing to go out on the proverbial limb to offer something just a little bit different to her readers.
You can buy Kip’s Monster here:
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