Kindle Edition, 238 pg.
Read: April 17-20, 2020
“Nothing ever goes according to plan,” Shast said. That was why contingencies existed. Layers upon layers of them.
That’s from Chapter 4. By the time the book ends 11 chapters later, Shast is going to a whole new understanding of that.
But I’m getting ahead of myself there’s some sort of monster infestation in a city—forces have been sent to take care of it–two different waves, actually. But they didn’t work. So now, The Culling–the organization that handles these kinds of things, has sent a full Hand to clear it out. A Hand is a team of five hunters, each with a different specialty. With those combined talents, they should be able to handle anything.
Only Shast and the most senior member of the Hand have worked together before, the other three are experienced, but not that much. It’s a diverse group of people who usually work along and there’s a good deal of bickering and being at loggerheads on the way to the city. Once there, once the hunt gets underway, that gets compartmentalized and the Hand gets to work.
For a completely foreign world—that we still don’t really know that much about (but we’re learning)—it’s a testimony to Miller’s story-telling that the reader is able to plug into their activities, get an idea what’s at stake and why they’re doing what they’re doing.
It doesn’t take long for every theory they have to be proven wrong, everything they try to not have any success. And before long, it’s clear that what they’re facing is something most of them had never heard of—or if they had, they thought was a myth. It’s not a myth, and soon the hunters are the hunted.
Interspersed with that story are flashbacks to a hunt from early in Shast’s career, and enduring that was pivotal in his development into the hunter that he is. He gained the perspective, the cold-heartedness that he requires to survive the hunt that’s the focus of this novel. I don’t remember Miller doing anything like this before, he pulls it off pretty well. There are times when you get a story like this that you really wonder what the flashback storyline has to do with anything, but I gave Miller the benefit of the doubt and was rewarded for it.
Last time out, I praised Miller’s design of monsters. This time, I need to do the same. I don’t remember reading monsters like this before—while they were completely original, I had no trouble getting a clear idea how these things looked or acted. They were disturbing, powerful and you have little trouble understanding why the Hand wants to destroy them.
Even better is his character design—each member of the Hand is a fully realized character–and we learn their backstory, culture, specialties, and the rest without ever feeling like we endured an info drop. Through them, we get a better idea how this world works and how the Culling developed. I’m still trying to get a handle on this world, not that it bothers me much, I know what I need to know—but I’m intrigued, I’m curious. I appreciate getting a little more information about this place.
Now in the first book of the series, Shast and his companions face off with a large and unprecedented force of monsters, but it’s something they can get a handle on, something they can understand and adapt to. This time, the Hand is completely blindsided and maybe outclassed. How he moves on from this point to book 3, I have no idea—I assume Miller has a few tricks up his sleeve and I’m looking forward to seeing what they are. In the meantime, I’d encourage you all to go pick this one up.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for this post and my honest opinion. I thank him for that.
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