ARC Review: No Gods, No Monsters, by Cadwell Turnbull

I can’t remember what made me pick out this specific ARC, I think generally curiosity and the cover being nice. It did take me a while to get to it, for various reason, but once I started I read it in about 2-3 days!

The Story

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

The Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

It’s a weird one because I THOUGHT I knew what to expect from that blurb, but really I didn’t. Our narrator, Cal, is both omniscient AND an actual character in the novel, with his own story and traumatic past. He’s moving back to St Thomas (in the US Virgin Islands) and dealing with the death of his brother. But he also follows Laina, Ridley, Dragon, Rebecca,… throughout their own stories, as an invisible presence. That was one of the parts that I found most intriguing.

It’s also not clear at first how everything is linked, as there are a few secret societies and invisible (literally or metaphorically) players moving the pieces behind the scenes. I found it both challenging to follow, and intriguing to try to piece it all together for myself before the story did it for me. I was still surprised at some of the twists and turns the plot took.

I definitely loved most of the characters, and the way the novel deals not just with monsters and othering/discrimination but things like cooperatives, communism, how to effect change in our society,… Ridley in particular was an interesting one for me because he’s a trans, asexual man, in an open relationship with his wife Laina (who also has a girlfriend), he works at a coop bookstore, he’s got a history of activism… and the events make him react in a way that’s more reactionary and contrary to his values, mostly due to trauma. It was an interesting journey to take with him and see where it went.

Overall it’s very much a book 1 in a series, so it leaves a lot of questions unanswered still, but it pulls enough threads together that it was a satisfying ending too.

TWs: besides the police brutality mentioned in the blurb, it also deals with other tough subjects like gun violence, drug abuse, in a cursory way also suicide, cancer and transphobia. There’s one gory episode of cannibalism/torture about halfway through, so be aware of that.

The Links

Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK

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