Russ reviewed the first book in this side-trilogy to Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series here. (I purposely avoid the word ‘prequel’ because these are not only actually good, they expand the existing universe in a worthy fashion. Come at me, Star Wars fans.)
It’s fitting to view these as one big novel rather than the second and third books in a trilogy. The second doesn’t so much end on a cliffhanger so much as it forces you to run to the top of a tall hill, empties the pitcher of ice-cold water at the top onto the ground, and demands you walk back to the bottom.
That may be hyperbole, but that was how it felt when I got to the end of Sinners a year or so ago and realized I’d have to wait for the final part. Thankfully, the concluding volume is available now in eARC format directly through Baen, with full availability next month.
At the end of Grunge, we learned that Chad, our monster-hunting Leisure Suit Larry, inadvertently inspired 90’s Seattle-sound and helped bring Valley Girl speak into the mainstream when he helped relocate an Elf Princess to the Pacific Northwest. (Like, totally!)
Chad On The Run In Sinners
Sinners opens not-too-long thereafter, and Chad is on the run. It seems he’s slept with the wrong elf girl, and she only looked 40. Thankfully, his bosses at MHI transfer him to the monster-hunting hotspot of the Big Easy.
The nickname has no resemblance to reality, though, because business is booming. All sorts of eldritch creatures are on the rise, and Team New Orleans–affectionately referred to as the ‘Hoodoo Squad’ by the locals–is barely holding the line.
If you’re familiar with the rules of Correia’s universe, that bit probably strikes you as odd. The First Reason for the government’s Monster Control Bureau, of course, is to prevent general knowledge of all the things that go bump in the night from getting out in the world. The resultant head-butting between the Bureau and private hunters forms the basis for much of the conflict between the ostensible good guys.
1980s New Orleans Revels In The Arcane
New Orleans, at least in the 1980’s setting of the Memoirs trilogy, is an entirely different animal. The locals already believe in the arcane. It’s part of their shtick. So the MCB and local MHI have adapted. They not only cooperate, they flaunt the craziness, publishing a poorly-edited local rag with pictures of actual monster hunting, a la the Weekly World News.
It’s all very wink-wink, and there’s an inherent level of zaniness that’s more than a bit entertaining after the bureaucratic shenanigans Owen and the rest often have to deal with in the mainline series.
Sinners and Saints are less episodic than the first book, with a more coherent story. We get a resolution to the backstory of Chad’s family hinted at in the first book, and there’s some great world-building with various types of monsters as well other parties who fight against them that have cameo’d in other books in the series.
Only One Negative
My only down-note on the two books is an obvious one that we’ve seen coming since Grunge. There’s this awesome guy, Chad, but how come Owen, Holly, and the rest of the modern-day Hunters have never heard of him?
Well, if you’re familiar with the series it’s obvious where it was going. When I started to get an inkling of it, I wondered how the journal format would work with a ‘famous last stand,’ and there’s a great twist where Earl detail’s Chad’s ultimate fate from his perspective.
It’s an amazing scene, and ends up as a spectacular payoff with just a bit of hinted tie-in to the ongoing books. And–look, I don’t want to spoil it for you, and it’s not really a cliffhanger, but man. That last line is killer.
Highly recommended, and a must-read if you enjoyed Grunge.