Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia

Monster Hunter International
I've run across Larry Correia's name a couple of times in the gun blogs I visit, and thought, when I saw his paperback on the shelves, that I should give his series a try. Monster Hunter International is the tale of Owen Z. Pitt, an apparently mild-mannered accountant whose boss turns into a werewolf in the office late one night, and Owen suddenly displays some teeth, himself, battling the monster with his concealed .357, bare hands, and eventually tossing him out a fourteenth-floor window. While he is recuperating in the hospital from the injuries he received in the battle, he is visited by some governmental agents, who think they may have to kill him, as he could turn furry, himself, and a more congenial yet shadowy figure, Earl Harbinger (is that the Trump of Doom I hear?), who gives him a business card and tells Owen to look him up when he gets out.

Owen ignores all of that while he's home getting back on his feet, with his mother and father in attendance, but after they leave, Harbinger visits him once more, with the lovely Julie Shackleford in tow. Though it's kept secret from the general public as much as possible, there are far more monsters in the world than just werewolves, and the pair belong to a business organization called Monster Hunters International which takes contract work to eradicate the pests before too many innocents are killed. Owen is smitten by Julie immediately, and his infatuation plays the most prominent role in his recruitment for this shadowy group.

As we learn over time, Owen was raised by a father who had been a Green Beret in that shadow war in Cambodia, and has been a gun nut his entire life, as well as studying martial arts. He supported himself in college for a while as a bouncer in a bar, and by cage fighting, but when he lost control and nearly killed a man, he opted to get his degree in accounting, and live a quiet, uneventful life. When he joins MHI, though, those dreams go up in flame.

He travels to the MHI training compound in Alabama, and does well in the military style training there. Other recruits come from all walks of life, including the military, but have one thing in common - they have met the monsters and survived, somehow. Before their training is really complete, a new threat appears on the horizon. A mysterious monster called The Cursed One, accompanied by seven master vampires, arrives on the East Coast via a pirated cargo ship. Owen dreams very vividly of their arrival one night, and when the hunters take on the job of reclaiming the cargo ship from whatever evil minions have commandeered it, he realizes when he sees the name of the ship stenciled on the side that his dream was a true one.

The rest of the novel details the arduous and dangerous quest of MHI to stop the Cursed One and his evil companions in their own quest to bring an ancient artifact to a place of power at the right time. If they succeed, it will loose hordes of Lovecraftian monsters on an unsuspecting Earth, and ring in a reign of terror which is unimaginable. As readers, we become aware that Owen is more an integral part of this plot than even he may suspect, as he continues to dream of the evil ones, and is guided by a spirit who once fought against the monsters, when one of the vampire masters was part of the Third Reich.

Lots of action keeps this moving along well, and it's a pretty good tale. Some fun things include a colony of elves living in a rundown trailer park called The Enchanted Forest, and a separate colony of orcs and wargs who like to rock out to Heavy Metal. The only problem I had with the plot and resolution is that it seemed that Owen's importance, as a key figure in stopping the plot, was too sudden as an intro to the series, and with the only resolution being "save the world", how do you gradually develop character and a plot for the rest of the books? Will every one be this earth-shatteringly important?

A fun book, and I'll most likely keep reading, when I run across the sequel.

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