The English Monster is a hard-to-follow, stretched out novel, with poor transitions between times and settings, virtually zero character development, and too many stories and events for a single book.
On the upside, it has an interesting mixture of elements, i.e. history, piracy, black-magic, which makes for an intriguing story, mostly due to wanting to know how it all comes together, in the end.
Discrimination plays a large role in the book, as it would in any story set in the chosen era. A running theme of racism adds, not only truth and realism but an emotional connection to the book and its characters. It creates graphic images which show how horrible things were back then if you were not a privileged white male.
The language, events, and very nature of the novel clearly show it is aimed at an adult-and-older demographic. Sex, cussing, and rich history are the biggest giveaways.
Specificity to a certain point is good. Going past that line, as done by Lloyd Shepherd in The English Monster, while it does paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, it causes a loss of interest in the book – pages 269-280 is the best example.
As for directness, Lloyd has used as little as possible. Large chunks of the book are unnecessary and lead the reader away from the story. In turn, the economy of writing is affected by the lack of directness. While the novel is very wordy, Lloyd is economic with things commonly associated with economic writing, i.e. doublets, and overuse of synonyms.
Balanced is not a term I would use to describe The English Monster, however, this can be considered a good thing. A variety of emotions is important to keep readers interested, but that does not mean it has to be the same for every single book. This book is supposed to be tragic, and while snippets of comedy or romance wouldn’t hurt, the consistency of despair and evil reflects well the book’s story and characters.
The book’s story is very original and plays a nice twist on past events. While not as intricate as other crime novels I have read, it has a unique tale. The straightforward and easy-to-guess narrative is made up for by the out-of-the-box concept of the story.
As for the characters, the majority are basic and undeveloped, and the reader is not given enough time to connect with them, so much so that they cannot be considered cliché as they do not have enough traits or personality to be so. A few of the characters are a little more advanced, though not by much. These characters are not cliché either, most for the previously given reason, though the central character is not because he is well designed and has many original aspects about him. All characters are, however, bland and uninteresting.
After evaluating the book in detail, I have concluded that The English Monster is not a good book, but could be enjoyed by a specific audience – old adults, with a taste for the particular era of history, who enjoy an old-fashioned book style.