Posted in beautiful monster, Book Griffyn, depression, eating disorders, grief, The Tales Compendium

Beautiful Monster


Beautiful Monster was released in May this year. It was picked up by Australian Standing Order- so that means the first print run is almost sold out! Very happy to attract their attention, although they did say that beautiful monster should win This Year’s Ugliest Cover Award!!!


I think it is a beautiful cover- what do you think?

Here are some reviews of it so far:

“Tess hears screeching brakes.

A bang.

The soft whump Brodies body makes as it hits the ground.”

How often does a death in the family result in the death of a family?

Beautiful Monster-Kate McCaffrey is an unflinching and heartbreaking portrait of a teenage girl left to cope alone with her grief and guilt over the death of her little brother. As her mother drowns in her bereavement and her father struggles to maintain a sense of equilibrium for them all, Tess stands bewildered, lost and alone.

Tess has no choice but to turn to the one person who loves her, the one person who tells her like it is, the only person she can trust. Ned. Except Ned is the insidious voice of her guilt and self loathing. Ned is the sly whisper in the dark that she needs to do better, be better, try harder. Ned is the silky voice leading Tess into a personal hell where her desperate grasping at perfection soon sees her trapped in a downward spiral resulting in an eating disorder and a near brush with death herself. Far from glamorising anorexia, Beautiful Monster illustrates just how seductive a cycle an eating disorder can become.

Beautiful Monster also begged a painful question for me as a parent. In the face of the enormous and (I hope to only imagine) unbearable, anguish that comes with the loss of a child, where does the parent end and the person begin? Tess so desperately needs her mother, yet her mother is too engulfed in her own grief to see that she has a surviving child. A child who needs her. A grief she experiences because she is a mother. She was Brodie’s mother too.

And so Beautiful Monster becomes a study not simply of an eating disorder, but of a family mourning the loss of one of its own. A mother struggling to surface from the murky depths of depression and near madness. A father valiantly trying to be a husband, a mother and a carer. And a girl struggling to survive beyond the shadow of her brother’s death and ultimately her own failure to save him.

I live in awe of Kate McCaffrey. Truly I do. Her first book Destroying Avalon,  quite literally destroyed me. Few authors are able to capture a teenage voice as convincingly and inexorably as Kate McCaffrey.

More than once I found myself needing to put this novel down and remind myself to breathe. Beautiful Monster is one of those rare novels that will leave you feeling like you have been punched in the gut, not once but twice. I have no doubt it will take your breath away.

Thanks to The Book Gryffin


It only takes a few blood-stained seconds for Tessa’s life to change forever. She wants her old life back. She wants her mum and dad the way they were. She wants her brother.

If it wasn’t for Ned, she’d be all alone. He’s her greatest support and staunchest ally. He’s privy to her deepest secrets, comforts her at night when she cries, holds her and makes her feel loved – when it feels like everyone else has gone. And he knows how to make things okay again. If Tessa can only be perfect, things will get better. The perfect daughter, the perfect marks, the perfect body. But there is a fine line between being in control and being controlled.

Wow where do I start?

Always tackling the important topics for young adults such as cyber-bullying (Destroying Avalon) and drugs use (In Ecstasy), Kate McCaffrey has done it again with Beautiful Monster, focusing on a young girl struggling through her teenage years who has developed an eating disorder following the devastating death of her younger brother.

Beautiful Monster not only deals with the primary issue of body image and eating disorders but also the grief of losing a loved one. As her parents suffer with their own pain, Tessa manages to slip through the cracks, hiding her own pain as she strives to reach her goal weight.

Told in three parts, two years separating each, we accompany Tess as she loses her brother, endeavours to be perfect and keep control over all aspects of her life, copes with her parents, hides her illness, suffers denial and isolates herself from her friends. Then, as her her secret is discovered, we see the aftermath of her treatment and the possibility of a relapse as old foes once again come to light.

Just like her previous books, Beautiful Monster is something every teenage girl should read.


I am an Australian author of YA and Adult fiction. My first novel Destroying Avalon (2006) published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press is about cyber bullying.My second novel In Ecstasy (2008) is about friendship and drugs. My third novel Beautiful Monster (2010)focuses on body image . Crashing Down (2014) was my fourth novel and is about teen pregnancy. Saving Jazz (2016), is a novel that looks the world of social media and what happens when your mistakes go viral. In 2019 I released a non-fiction book The (mostly) English Teachers' Survival Guide To Marking which outlines a coded marking and feed-forward system, designed to save teachers about 50% of their marking time. My first adult book Double Lives is being released in 2022. I live in Western Australia, with my husband, two daughters, a cat and two Maltese Shih Tzus.

12 thoughts on “Beautiful Monster

  1. Kate, I am incredibly flattered that you liked the review enough to mention it. Thank you! I love all of your novels and cannot tell you how helpful they have been in engaging reluctant readers. The question on everyone’s mind is…is there another book coming?
    As for the cover of Beautiful Monster, I think it’s stunning!
    Kind Regards,
    Tye- The Book Gryffin.

    1. Thank you! A fantastic review and very humbling! I am glad my books engage reluctant readers- they are the audience I want to entice!

      I am working on a very different series at the moment- Gaelic Fairies! Not teen angst- however the pressure from my established readership is such that I may have to deal with another important issue in their lives before too long.

      I love the cover too- and think the illustrator did a beautiful job. The image and text is debossed which makes it all the more tactile and relevant to the concept itself!

      At the risk of sounding like a biased parent Beautiful Monster is my favourite so far.

      Thank you for the great review and for being a great reviewer (they can be hard to find- someone who critiques what the book is- not what it isn’t!!)


  2. i just finished beautiful monster and loved it but abit confused about Ned; this is probably a weird question, but was he real?

    1. Hi Maggie,

      This is a spoiler alert! Ned is the personification of an eating disorder. When I researched bulimia and anorexia all sufferers spoke of this same voice which controlled their actions, told them they were worthless, promised them success if they listened.

      My intention was to show this relationship like a physical “love” relationship- which to do I had to create the appearance of Ned being physical without actually giving him any physical attributes. It was difficult– and my editor told me off a lot for trying to cheat! But in the end I was able to make him “sound” real by showing how Tess responded to him as a voice.

      Ned moving on to Bobby at the end was symbolic of this “universal” voice amongst sufferers and also that the disease is not gender specific. So your confusion is understandable.

      Hope that explains things! Thanks for the comment,


      1. I also thought that Ned was real, but then i thought he could be vampire because he was appearing everywhere and through the window.
        I thought Bobby was real too.
        Smarly done!

  3. Hello, I really liked your book, well written. It used swear words a bit too much though. One thing I don’t understand is the ending ? I don’t think the book really had an ending ? Can you please explain that to me?

  4. I finished reading Beautiful Monster and I thought it was a beautiful story and the ending was one that kept me thinking over it. It was at one point where I was puzzling over the title, “Beautiful Monster” when I realised the “f” was in italics and the rest of the word was “full”. I’m not really sure if this was actually intended but was it implyin that in order to be beautiful she wasn’t full? Or something along the gist of that, I’m not quite sure how to paraphrase that.

  5. I am one of Beautiful Monsters biggest fans. It was such a moving story and was all I could think of for a while. I have read a lot of books on anorexia, I even did a monolouge from the perspective of a girl with anorexia for Drama this year. This one though is by far the best. I love that this book doesn’t just look at her HAVING anorexia but sort of why she gets it. How she becomes messed up over Brodies death and feels she has to be perfect to please everyone. Rather than as I’ve seen a lot oh she has anorexia and all about that. This shows WHY. I feel great sympathy for anyone with it because a lot of people don’t relise that they can’t help it. It’s a pyscological issue. I love this book and I don’t know if anyone else felt this but the creepiness. Especially Ned. I hate Ned and I hate all Neds. (Not people with the name but the alter ego thing.) I am doing this book for english and its about picking a book to be turned into a movie. I really hope that Beautiful Monster becomes a movie. I would be lining up in a second. I love this book and so does myy friend that’s reading it now. This book is a-mazing.


  6. I loved your book 🙂 it is one of the best i’ve read in ages and i will recomened it to everyone i know 😀

    I am a year 11 student and even though the school year has just started i feel like i am already drowning in emotions and your books have been the quite time that i have needed to find myself again.


  7. This is an amazing story. Made my eyes tear up before I’d reached half the book. I strongly recommend for anyone. I really do hope to see more books from you McCaffrey! 🙂 x

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