Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: "Monster Hunter Vendetta" by Larry Correia

After facing down the end of the world at the hands of some Lovecraftian aliens, Owen Pitt has settled into a more normal life in Larry Correia’s “Monster Hunter Vendetta” ($7.99, Baen).

That is, if a guy that makes his living killing monsters that most of the world doesn’t think exist can have a normal life.

He’s engaged to monster-hunting partner Julie Shackleford and making a lot of money for Monster Hunter International doing what he does best. He thinks the threat of the Old Ones is behind him, until an assignment in Mexico goes sideways.

While resting after a successful hunt, Owen is attacked in his hotel room by a seemingly unbeatable necromancer. When he escapes, the wizard sends hordes of zombies at the hotel, resulting in an ugly incident and Owen’s arrest.

He soon discovers that the necromancer is working for the Old Ones, and that he has a connection to MHI. Owen must figure out who he is and how to stop him before he brings eternal darkness to the world.

The first volume of Correia’s Monster Hunter books took me by surprise. I didn’t think that it would be something I’d enjoy, but it turned out to be fantastic fun. The follow-up doesn’t disappoint either.

In “Vendetta,” Correia begins to flesh out his world and its characters. We meet Owen’s family and come to understand his rough young life. He also opens up some of the shadowy history of Monster Hunter International and its people, as well as foreshadowing bigger threats and evils that may be coming their way.

One of the biggest surprises for me in the book was the development of Agent Franks. I think we had all figured out (or thought we had) what the gigantic Monster Control Bureau agent actually was by the end of the first book, but Correia moves his story forward here in a crafty sort of way that’s very fitting of his personality. By the end, Franks is becoming one of my favorite characters in the story, and I’m looking forward to the scenes where he shows up. There’s also a nice nod at the end that seems to tell us he’ll be a much larger part of the coming story. I’m glad to hear it.

All of the revelation and development brings a bit more depth to the story beyond the gun-slinging adventure that drove the first book, though there’s still more than enough of that.

Correia also continues to have fun with some of the tropes of the fantasy genre. In this volume, we meet the gnomes, and they were just as entertaining as the elves and orcs of the first book. I can’t wait to see what races we meet next.

“Monster Hunter International” hooked me with its fun, action-packed craziness. “Monster Hunter Vendetta” gives me a bit more of a connection with the characters and the world. By the end of the tale, I’m all in with Correia’s crew of monster hunters.

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