As it’s the spooky season I figured I’d write a fun little discussion post looking at why monster love interests are so compelling! I’m a big fan of monster romance, all the way from my teen years and the paranormal obsession to today. Recently I’ve been loving Aveda Vice’s high-heat, queer novelettes,! Monster romance can be so much fun, especially when you consider how it combines horror themes, romance tropes, and even some sci-fi and fantasy elements. Truly a multi-faceted genre that deserves appreciation. There’s a lot more I could say on this topic, but this is supposed to be more of a discussion to get people thinking. I know monster romance isn’t for everyone, but I think nearly all of us have read something that could be classed that way. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s fun to consider why monster love interests keep coming back for more.
What can we classify as a monster love interest?
In my opinion monster romance can usually fit into two camps. Monsters that are pretty much exactly the same as humans, but with some dangerous elements. Depending on the book these could include things like vampires, werewolves, faeries, ghosts, angels, even demons. These stories were so huge when I was a teenager; I probably read hundreds of them. Then you have the monster romances which are slightly more niche – the less human ones. Cosmic horrors? Strange aliens? Mothman? Bigfoot? Someone will have written about it.
There are young adult monster romances, there are adult monster romances, there are chaste monster romances, and high heat ones. Monster romance for everyone!
You could even push the boundaries of what a monster is. Does a monster romance need an actual monster? Or is someone who is thought of as monstrous enough? Is a monster defined by its lack of humanity? Are monsters defined by what society cannot accept?
Why do people find monsters so compelling?
People have written pages upon pages of work looking at monsters and romance. I’m not trying to give a full answer to this question, but instead, chat about some aspects I find interesting.
Gothic literature is well known for exploring the repressed sexuality of society at the height of its popularity. Gothic literature didn’t always have sex, but it was filled to the brim with sexuality. If you look at vampires, the whole point in them is that they’re constantly longing, they’re never satisfied, they are creatures filled with lust. Sure, it’s for your blood, but it’s easy to see how that metaphor carries across. In that way, often monsters are supposed to be sexy – that kind of dangerous sexuality you’re not supposed to be drawn to.
Monsters have often been used to represent a sort of animalistic, or uncivilized version of ourselves. You can’t assign our values to a monster, and so they allow people to explore their own desires regardless of societal expectations. Sexuality has changed a lot from the traditional gothic horror days, but there are still areas of our life that we can’t escape from. Monsters are power, and we all long for something. Maybe to run off into the wilderness with mothman and stop worrying about paying off school debts? In reality, we couldn’t do these things, but that’s why monster romance is so fun, because it allows you to shrug off preconceptions and live in a world where you have power at your fingertips.
Why might marginalised people find monsters particularly compelling?
What makes someone a monster? A lot of marginalised people have to consider the idea that in the eyes of society, we’re at least a little bit monstrous. Monsters are a popular metaphor for marginalisation for a reason. People who are hated for who they are can find a lot to relate to in a monster. One book I’d recommend that really delves into this topic is No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull. That one’s not a monster romance, but it does an excellent job of looking at monsters as marginalised people especially in relation to race, gender, and sexuality.
Looking at monster romances, they’re a wonderful place to examine queerness. Dracula longed for everyone’s blood, regardless of gender. Monsters also easily lend themselves to sitting outside of traditional gender norms. They might not even have a gender at all. If it’s a sexy romance, they’ll sometimes have non-typical sexual organs. You might see why that would be so fun to play around with as a queer person. Monsters often have a sexuality that’s not easy to define, a gender that’s not easy to define. I love how a lot of monster romances at the moment are explicitly queer, no more undertones, we want sexy, queer monsters.