It's that time of the year again folks. That magical time signaling another book release from the reigning champion of urban fantasy. May I humbly present to you MONSTER HUNTER LEGION, fourth book of the New York Times Best-Selling series written by pulp fiction juggernaut Larry Correia.
Disclaimer: Larry Correia is my favorite author. I am a Monster Hunter/Grimnoir Chronicles fanboy. This does not, however, mean that I will ever give Larry a free pass when it comes to a review. I am a critic first and foremost and I do not believe in coddling authors. That said, MONSTER HUNTER LEGION is Larry's most flawless book to date. Not my favorite of his novels, mind you, but certainly the most complete and substantial.
Hunters from around the world travel to Las Vegas for the first ever monster eradication conference. Not long into the conference a World War II weapon experiment awakes in the desert and goes on a rampage, spurring a race amongst the international hunting community to bag this rare monster. There is trouble brewing and it will be up to Owen Zastava Pitt and his co-workers at Monster Hunter International to prevent a nightmare creature from turning Sin City into hell.
Book four of the Monster Hunter series and going strong. After a brief stint with Earl Harbinger in Northern Michigan during MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA I was pleased to be back under the narration of Owen Pitt, combat accountant. First person narrative requires a strong personality to succeed and I had forgotten just how lovable Owen is. Only Owen could be set loose in Las Vegas with tons of cash and end up at a buffet. The first ever monster hunting conference provides an excellent opportunity to really expand the hunting community. We haven't really seen a lot of competition from rival companies so far in the series, and that makes a large gathering of them that much cooler. Owen turns out to be a bit of a celebrity among the crowd, being the God Slayer and all, and a very disturbing pattern starts to emerge when the hunters start comparing notes...Something very, very bad is on the horizon. Something worse than anything our heroes have faced to date.
The pacing doesn't skip a bit. MONSTER HUNTER LEGION starts out slow but strong. Readers are introduced to new allies and new enemies, including the extremely creepy Mr Stricken. It would appear that there are some government organizations worse than the Monster Control Bureau and Special Task Force Unicorn is one of them. With our own government playing hardball and an impending war of supernatural proportions inching ever closer, the tension is palpable. Whereas the other books in the series give off a more action-oriented vibe, MONSTER HUNTER LEGION just oozes menace. This is a horror novel through and through. It is just a horror novel where the horny college kids are replaced by heavily armed professionals.
The characters are the best you'll find in the urban fantasy genre or any other. Owen is the very essence of restrained violence with an incredibly dysfunctional family, and yet he is an impossibly upbeat man. No lame anti-heroes here. The things Owen says are frequently funny (there is a ton of humor to balance out all the terror of this book) and his can-do attitude is only tempered by his extraordinary ability to inflict pain on the undead and unnatural. Then we have Owen's wife, Julie, who is living with the ever present threat of her curse. This go-around we don't get a lot of Earl or Agent Franks but that's fine because Earl just had his own novel and the Agent Franks novel is on the way. Skippy and Edward get plenty of stage time. The MHI crew is also joined by Tanya, the trailer park elf. Trip, Holly, and Owen's brother Mosh get some extra depth, which I felt was a nice touch. Throw in a bunch of professional monster hunters from overseas and you have a pretty rockin' party.
Then there are the villains. I already touched on Mr Stricken, the strange and vile fellow that makes Agent Myers and Agent Franks look like Boy Scouts. I am eager to learn more about Stricken and Special Task Force Unicorn in future entries. I love that the main villain of each book is so completely different. One of Larry's specialties (because he has quite a few) is writing sympathetic bad guys. They may be completely evil, or even lesser degrees of evil, but he always makes them possible to relate to. No mustache-twirling ne'er-do-wells here. The villain this time around has a tragic story from a dark time in American history. At the same time, that doesn't make the baddie and less dangerous. The Big Bad this time is pretty awful, while still only being a precursor for what is to come. And if Owen's past opponents are any indicator the war humanity is facing will not be pretty.
When it comes to Correia novels I save describing the action for the end. Larry is the gold standard when it comes to writing action. I have even recommended that publishers slap a Larry Correia Seal of Approval on books that meet the necessary action requirements. The thing is, the man knows his guns. He knows how to orchestrate beautiful battles with explosions that would make Michael Bay weep. As I mentioned earlier, MONSTER HUNTER LEGION is a little more subdued than its predecessors. This time around the steady build of tension is the primary thrilling factor but you better believe that when the finale comes around it is pure adrenaline overdrive.
Larry Correia is sort of like Raymond Chandler meets H.P. Lovecraft with a fully automatic shotgun. If all the literary snobs want to get together and declare his novels to be pulp then fine, Larry is the King of Pulp. MONSTER HUNTER LEGION is a superb continuation of the series, not the man's best novel to date but easily his most solid. If you have read his books before then you are just reading this review to humor me - you've already ordered this book. If you haven't read any Correia yet and you wonder what Twilight would have been like if Bella's dad had brought out the twelve gauge and plugged Edward the glittery vampire, then this is the series for you.
Recommended Age: 16+
Language: More than I remember from the rest of the series but it's not overabundant.
Violence: Hah! Hahaha! Are you kidding me? This is the man that INVENTED violence.
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