Monster Slayers by Lukas Ritter MG Novel Review

 

Title: Monster Slayers

Author: Lukas Ritter

Publisher: Mirrorstone

ISBN: 9780786954841

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When vicious, dog-headed gnolls kidnap everyone living in the small village of Hesiod, only Evin and his fighter friend Jorick manage to escape. With help from an ancient guidebook of magical beasts called A Practical Guide to Monsters, the two boys and a new friend–elf wizard Betilivatis–must trek through ancient ruins and face one menacing monster after another in order save their families.

But Evin soon realizes that not everything is as it seems. Someone–or something–has taken leadership of the gnolls and has dangerous plans for the kidnapped villagers. Betilivatis often disappears mysteriously and has strange conversations with someone only she can see. And Evin is having unusual dreams of a place he’s never been, a place that feels more and more real with each passing day.

The pace never falters in this page-turning adventure, as Evin, Jorick, and Betilivatis bravely battle gnolls, a chimera, an ormyrr, and a lich, and it ends with a shocking twist that will make readers want to start the story all over again.

I was pleasantly surprised with Monster Slayers.  This is the first book in a new series based on A Practical Guide to Monsters, and it was a fun, fast-paced read.  Perfect for the start of the summer reading season. 

Evin longs for adventure, but after a band of gnolls attacks and destroys his village, he starts wishing things weren’t quite so exciting.  Everyone in the village except Evin and his best friend Jorick have been abducted, and now the two boys must quickly rescue their friends and family.  Before the gnolls eat them all!  Talk about scary! 

Along the journey, Evin and Jorick meet up with a plucky elven wizard, Bet, who decides to accompany them and help them in their quest to save their families.  As they move from one dangerous encounter to the next, Evin begins to grow suspicious of Bet; who is she, really, and why does she want to help them?  What he uncovers is a plot that could destroy the lands he thinks he’s defending, and leave him a blood sacrifice for an evil, power mad wizard!

Though at times the plot devices were a little too convenient, the blistering pacing doesn’t allow much time to question them. Evin and Jorick are quickly initiated into the terrors of being warriors, where death or dismemberment are only an instant away.  They must also shoulder the burden of saving their families, after they turned tail and ran away during the gnoll attack.  With Bet to there to back them up with her magical powers, the three form a tough team, and they are ready to tackle all adversaries to save their friends and family.

I didn’t see the twist at the end, which left the door open for another journey with Evin and his friends.  During the course of their adventure, the three developed a friendship that seemed natural, despite their differences.  When they discover that they have been pawns from the beginning in a very dangerous game to change the structure of the world as they know it, they quickly set aside their squabbles so they can make things right again.   They inadvertently unleash some very, very nasty monsters that quickly take advantage of their mistake to prey upon helpless humans.  It is only right that the three shoulder this burden, too.  Instead of running away from the consequences of their actions, they own up to them, and agree to make them right. 

Monster Slayers sets a blistering pace from the first page, and never slows down.  Not without its flaws, this is still a great summer read.  Action!  Adventure!  Monsters!  The book has it all, in spades!

There is a role-playing game based on the book, Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod, and you can learn about it here.  Everything needed to play the game is available for download, except for a pencil and dice.  Oh, and a couple friends to go exploring with.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher