Monstrocity – Book Review

Monstrocity by Jeffrey Thomas (ISBN 9781894815628)

Never judge a book by its cover. An

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old yet pertinent adage. I was sent a copy of Monstrocity to review which was adorned with bizarre, misshapen grotesques; it was at this point I wondered what I was letting myself in for. The answer is an intelligently crafted sci-fi/Lovecraftian hybrid of a novel awash with vivid splashes of imagination.

Paxton, or Punktown as its inhabitants affectionately know it, is a sprawling metropolis on the far off planet of Oasis swimming with aliens, mutants and monsters. It is here that Christopher Ruby lives out his humdrum life as a net service call centre rep with his plump, goth girlfriend Gaby; it doesn’t get more exciting than that. Except it does and right from the get go.
Aspiring writers wanting to know how to open a story should do themselves a favour and read the first fifty pages of Monstrocity. Thomas opens up with a wonderful, time-lapse description of a bullet travelling, a bullet fired by Chris to kill sinister bookseller Mr Dove who will be his second murder

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victim. And so our story begins, or rather it middles, as Thomas gives us a glimpse of Chris’ future before the summoning (see later). We see characters and plot laid out expertly before us without the use of the dreaded shoe horn. We get introduced to the occult by Gaby and the fun really begins when Gaby tries to summon demons using a digital recording of the fabled Necronomicon. Suffice to say the proverbial hits the fan but in a nicely developed, teasing manner with Gaby becoming aloof over time and refusing to see Chris thus forcing him to find out more about the Necronomicon and those beings that summon demons. As Chris delves into the world of the Necronomicon he becomes embroiled in the underbelly of Punktown and discovers more than he might have wished for.

This is a tale of the occult in a futuristic setting interlaced with menace, mystery and eroticism. We see ancient gods in the style of Lovecraft called into being and intricate storylines woven around our heads whilst we enjoy the unfolding plot. There are nice sci-fi tropes dotted throughout the story with encephalopodically powered IT systems, organic buildings and metal skinned birdlike aliens all putting in appearances. Thomas also manages to tackle some social issues (prostitution, racism, sexism and religion) without being obvious about it; it’s there but it’s subtle enough.

The bulk of the book is excellent but my problem with Monstrocity is the ending. The story comes to a conclusion which was fine but not quite as strong as the rest of the book and then has a secondary ending which felt like it may have been added on after originally finishing the book. As a reader it is a slight let down, especially as the rest of the book was so good, but not significant enough to ruin the story for me.

Overall a very good book which I devoured hungrily it was just a shame that I was left wanting a bit more at the end. Saying that, I understand there are several more Punktown books out there and might just go and seek them out (if I dare!).

GS Rating :4 / 5
GS Reviewer: Phil Ambler

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One comment

  1. So pleased you liked my book, sir! The ending…yeah, others have felt the same way. It wasn’t an afterthought, however; my intended aim was to make the reader feel like the protagonist in being surprised there was still more stuff to be dealt with. It was some more of my experimentation with narrative (like starting the novel in the middle, which seems to have been more the successful experiment!). My novels DEADSTOCK and THOUGHT FORMS also play some narrative games (namely, interweaving two separate stories, in both cases) that people either like or they don’t. Guess I just don’t like doing things the easy way! 🙂 But I’m very, very gratified by your comments. Thanks for reading the book and sharing your thoughts!


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