Gerardo Sámano Córdova

Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s dark, soulful magic puts me in mind of Kelly Link or Carmen Maria Machado (and further back, Mary Shelley). The horror of grief has rarely been so viscerally or movingly evoked.”

- Peter Ho Davies, author of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself

“A “genuinely scary” horror debut written in “prose so beautiful you won’t want to rush” about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes (Ana Reyes)”





Page count




Sale date

January 30, 2024


5.5 x 8.25

About the Book

Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago’s lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family’s decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses—though curbed by his biological and chosen family’s communal care—threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life.

A thought-provoking meditation on grief, acceptance, and the monstrous sides of love and loyalty, Gerardo Sámano Córdova blends bold imagination and evocative prose with deep emotional rigor. Told in four acts that span the globe from Brooklyn to Berlin, Monstrilio offers, with uncanny clarity, a cathartic and precise portrait of being human.


A Best book of 2023
NPR • Barnes & Noble • Elle • Book Riot • BookPage • GoodReads • Shondaland •The Observer • PolyGon • HuffPost • Powell’s


At once heartbreaking and unapologetically strange, this is a cross-cultural, syncretic, folksy, razor-sharp narrative about the horrors of grief and the eternal debate over nature versus nurture….Monstrilio packs in a lot, and the author pulls it off brilliantly. It is at once dark and tender, at times bleak, but balanced with humor that borders on slapstick…. an outstanding debut; for all the ground being broken in genre-bending horror, his is a distinctive, exciting new voice in fiction.

- Gabino Iglesias, Los Angeles Times

“An extraordinary act of imagination, an extended meditation that begins in grief, family, belonging, and moves past that, into a deeper discovery of the power of love— and the powerlessness of love, as well its strangeness. With Monstrilio, Sámano Córdova makes a remarkable, kaleidoscopic debut.”

- Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

“Simply exquisite. Easily one of my favorite reads this year.”

- Sarah Gailey, bestselling author of Just Like Home and The Echo Wife

“Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s dark, soulful magic puts me in mind of Kelly Link or Carmen Maria Machado (and further back, Mary Shelley). The horror of grief has rarely been so viscerally or movingly evoked.”

- Peter Ho Davies, author of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself

“Haunting and often bleakly humorous, Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s Monstrilio is a captivating tone poem of trauma, grief, and transformation. Córdova writes with the lyrical precision of a master surrealist and creates an uncompromising vision of literary horror that is so wholly unique and utterly his own.”

- Eric LaRocca, author of Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke and Other Misfortune

“In Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s spare, soulful, and singular Monstrilio, a mother’s grief turns monstrous, literally taking on a life of its own. As tender and terrifying as its titular character, Monstrilio is just as likely to work its way into your heart as into your nightmares. Prepare to unhinge your jaw and devour it whole.”

- Maria Adelmann, author of Girls of a Certain Age and How to be Eaten

“Monstrilio is the monster story about grief I’ve been craving. Bloody and full of longing, it gets under your skin and doesn’t let you go. A thrilling and heartbreaking ride from Mexico City to NYC to Berlin, brilliantly capturing what it means to lose someone you love with ferocious tenderness. Gerardo Sámano Córdova is an international revelation and one of the boldest new voices writing today.”

- Akil Kumarasamy, author of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea and Half Gods

“Monstrilio is unlike any other book I’ve read. Genuinely scary at times, it moved me with its humanity, made me laugh, and ultimately, made me cry. Gerardo Sámano Córdova has written a stunning exploration of grief, belonging, and familial love in prose so beautiful you won’t want to rush through it—even as you need to know what happens next.”

- Ana Reyes, The House in The Pines

“In this wicked debut novel, Sámano Córdova combines queer themes touching on identity, kink, and consent with Latin American mysticism for an unusually visceral coming-of-age tale…There’s no doubt there’s nothing quite like it. A Promethean fable about reconstruction, reinvention, and the occasional human-sized snack.”

- Kirkus

“Grief takes the shape of a monster in Sámano Córdova’s disturbing yet touching literary horror debut…Sámano Córdova creates complex characters who make difficult decisions that blur the lines between being human and being a monster. Fans of Eric LaRocca, Agustina Bazterrica, and Carmen Maria Machado will appreciate this unique take on the horror genre.”

- Verónica N. Rodríguez, Booklist

“Sámano Córdova’s writing is piercing and intimate. Whether describing Monstrilio’s first, vicious moments of life or the subtle, strained romance between Magos and her childhood friend Lena, Sámano Córdova keeps readers breathless…his novel seeks to embody [grief], making this nameless, eternal pain something we can speak to and hold.”

- Eric Ponce, Book Page, starred review

“Córdova asks the reader to consider the limits of familial love and understanding. He provides no easy answers, and readers may find themselves touched and horrified in equal measure…An enthralling debut that packs a heavy emotional punch. Fans of domestic horror like Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth or Ashley Audrain’s The Push will find a lot to chew on here.”

- Colin Chappell, Library Journal

In this imaginative debut, one mother is going to discover the limits to maternal love — but not before lots of terrible stuff happens…Raising a piece of a corpse to love as your own child sounds like a good idea, right? Spoiler: No, no it does not.”

- Liberty Hardy, Book Riot

Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s novel Monstrilio is a surreal and haunting debut, a book I could not put down that exquisitely explores themes of love and grief.

- Largehearted Boy

“Sly and unsettling…Sámano Córdova does a good job elucidating the contours of grief and love. This creepy work of psychological horror gives readers plenty to chew on.”

- Publishers Weekly

“Gerardo Sámano Córdova pens a creative, visionary, and fantastic examination of grief and love; parents and children; friends and lovers. Once you start the book, you won’t be able to un-read it. Unforgettable is the most perfect word here.”

- Barnes & Noble Editors, Most Anticipated Book Releases of March 2023

“Sámano Córdova’s work is as devastating as its premise is whimsical.”

- Carl Lavigne, Ploughshares

“Gerardo Sámano Córdova is hitting the ground running with his debut novel…. stunning and horrifying.”

- Bob Pastorella, This is Horror

“In his masterful and surreal debut novel, Mexican author Gerardo Sámano Córdova revels in the mire of grief, then lifts the veil and gets playful with it, like the Brothers Grimm ghostwriting Stephen King…Monstrilio is full of surprises and delightfully messed up — at once precise and inscrutable and horrifying.”

- Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“For readers with a soft spot for unconventional monster fiction, Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s debut novel Monstrilio is packed with metaphor and nuanced layers of horror and humanity. The novel draws the reader into the raw, intimate spaces of mourning and creates something distinctly original as the story effortlessly blends speculative horror with grief, sexuality, and what it means to be human…Córdova masterfully blends the elements of literary horror and folklore to create something distinctly modern and unique.”

- Corrine Watson, f(r)iction

“An outstanding novel that…brings to the forefront elements of grief, loss, love, and loneliness. These elements, without compromise, are real and the most raw of human emotions. These emotions are easily explorable, just as they are. This read was a fresh take on horror…one that I had never seen before.

- Mark Haskell, The Gatepost

“Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s debut literary horror mix seems plucked straight out of a Guillermo del Toro film . . . a deeply wrought narrative that tackles grief with prose that is as beautiful as it is delightfully gory.”

- Brigid Flanagan, The Observer