“When monsters have nightmares, they’re dreaming about us.” — MHI handbook
Monster Hunter Vendetta is the second installment of Larry Correia’s MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series. In the first book, Monster Hunter International, we met Owen Zastava Pitt who used to be an accountant and gun hobbyist until his boss turned into a werewolf and Owen had to kill him. Now Owen is one of the best agents MHI has ever had.
It’s lucky that he’s so good at his job because Owen made a very dangerous enemy when he recently thwarted the Old Ones’ attempt to break into our dimension (read about this in the first book, Monster Hunter International). Now Owen is being hunted by the minions of the Old Ones, including a necromancer named The Shadow Man and the members of a death cult called the Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition. Because they’re evil, they’ll stop at nothing to get their way, including killing innocent people and targeting Owen’s family to get at him.
This time Owen and the gang are fighting — along with all the usual werewolves, vampires and zombie hordes — doppelgängers, undead elephants, zombie bears, a shoggoth, giant walking trees, gangsta gnomes (so funny!), a brain worm that eats memories, and Julie’s mother. It sounds like too much — everything but the kitchen sink, you know (though I wouldn’t be surprised to find MHI shooting animated kitchen sinks in a future installment) — but it works.
As usual, the government can’t stop themselves from meddling with MHI. They want in on the action and they know Owen is the target, so Agent Franks, one of Owen’s human nemeses, is assigned as Owen’s bodyguard. If you didn’t love Agent Franks already (and you probably didn’t), you will by the end of Monster Hunter Vendetta.
It doesn’t happen very often that the second book in a series is better than the first, but it’s true in this case. Monster Hunter Vendetta is a wild ride — to say that it’s exciting, frightening, creative, violent, bloody and funny would be too much of an understatement. It’s eye-popping, heart-pounding, and totally unputdownable. I was engrossed (and grossed out) from the first page to the last. As I mentioned in my review of the previous book, it’s too gory for me to say that I really love it — a few too many disemboweled bodies and heads bitten off for me — but I can say that I really really admire it and I almost love it. Those who go for this sort of thing are likely to consider MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL a perfect specimen of testosterone-filled dude lit. (This sounds sexist, I know, but Larry Correia could have made this series more appealing to female readers by increasing the romantic tension.)
One thing I particularly liked about Monster Hunter Vendetta is that it’s very funny. Not the wacky slapstick Three Stooges kind of funny — there’s none of that. Correia uses a delightfully morbid dry humor which works especially well with Oliver Wyman’s narration of the audio version. Though Wyman’s narration is lively, he deadpans the humorous lines perfectly. (If you’re reading MHI and haven’t tried the audio version, you’re missing out.) There are also occasional SFF allusions that made me smile.
I’m impressed with how well plotted this series has been so far. Larry Correia set up the background for Monster Hunter Vendetta back in the first book when we learn about Owen’s family, Julie’s parents, and the history of MHI. I already felt like I knew Owen’s mother, a Serbian woman who demonstrates her love by cooking for people, his father who brought up his boys to be tough survivalists, and his brother who became a heavy metal rock star. When we meet Owen’s family in Monster Hunter Vendetta we (and Owen himself) start to comprehend that his destiny has been in place since before he was even born. This plot is way bigger than we realized back in book one. I can’t wait to read on….