Book recommendation: Monster, by A. Lee Martinez

The last time I was in a bookstore, I was looking for a comedic fantasy novel. That’s what I was in the mood to buy–something funny with either a fantastical setting or characters. As I browsed the shelves in the store, I also browsed a couple of lists on Goodreads, my To Be Read list among them.

My Goodreads app presented me with some novels by A. Lee Martinez, and I thought, “Perfect! That’s exactly what I’m looking for.”

Except… the store didn’t have any of his novels in stock.

So I picked up something else to tide me over (do you really think I can go into a bookstore and not buy something?), and I went home to download an e-book or two. In the end, I bought myself Martinez’s Monster, and I started reading it as soon as I could.

Monster and Judy couldn’t be more different. Each night, he hunts down cryptos–mythological pests–while she stocks shelves in a grocery store. But a yeti in the freezer aisle brings them together, and soon these two not-quite-friends have to battle a series of trolls, walrus-dogs, and one crazy cat lady in an effort to save the world.

If you can’t tell from the description alone, Monster thoroughly satisfied my comedic-fantasy craving. It had that slightly absurd type of humour that I can’t seem to get enough of, without being over the top. And it’s most definitely a creative story.

But here’s the part I really want to tell you about: Martinez featured a fantastic villain in this novel. Seriously. Fantastic enough that I absolutely hated her.

You know those villains that are so well-written that, even before you know what they’re actually after, they just make your skin crawl? Because you don’t know what to expect from them, you don’t know if they have any chance of winning, but you know they’re a definite threat? That’s the kind of villain Martinez went with here. She was vile, and I couldn’t wait to see her lose.

I kind of loved that feeling. I’m usually pretty sympathetic to villains (and they’re some of my favourite characters to write), but this one got to me in a way I didn’t expect. It was a nice change of pace.

So, if you have any sort of craving for something funny or fantastical, pick up this novel. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Goodreads summary

Meet Monster. Meet Judy. Two humans who don’t like each other much, but together must fight dragons, fire-breathing felines, trolls, Inuit walrus dogs, and a crazy cat lady – for the future of the universe.

Monster runs a pest control agency. He’s overworked and has domestic troubles – like having the girlfriend from hell.

Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her and if she has to spell things out for the night-manager every now and again, so be it.

But when Judy finds a Yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster’s in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn’t catch raccoons; he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.

Oh, and his girlfriend from Hell? She actually is from Hell.

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