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Review: No Gods, No Monster - Cadwell Turnbull

Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy

Published: Blackstone Publishing, September 2021

My Rating: 2/5 stars

DNF at 65%

At the start of this year, I promised myself that I was going to be easier on myself with regards to DNF-ing books I was not enjoying. Even if those books were ones that I’d been highly anticipating. Unfortunately, this was such a case. No Gods, No Monsters is basically a work of literary fiction about racism, bigotry and prejudice in American society, hiding within a coat of urban fantasy. We follow multiple diverging storylines, starting from the moment society finds out that “monsters” are real. Supernatural beings, such as dragons, vampires and werewolves have been living unseen among us all this time, and are now stepping out of the shadows. What follows is the collective paranoia and societal upheaval you would expect. The usage of supernatural creatures as a metaphor for different minorities is such a hit or miss trope for me. It’s such a sensitive line to walk, and it’s also been done to death as a media trope by now. In this case it was at times very on the nose, whilst at other times muddying its own waters. In addition, I went into the story expecting 2 or 3 protagonists, and a set of side characters to follow throughout the novel. Instead this read more like a series of vignettes, where there were so many characters, names and plotlines to keep track of that I couldn’t connect to a single one of them fully. Although the authors prose is beautiful, and his ideas were in the right place, I felt like he tried to condense too many different ideas and themes into one novel. I appreciate the ambition, but I felt the volume of plotlines undercut the quality.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me, so I decided to move on. Perhaps at a different place and different time I’d have felt different. Having started a new lockdown in the Netherlands, and a new round of intensified ICU- and ER-shifts for me is probably not helping my enjoyment of novels about American politics. Oops…

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