Thank you to Blackstone Publishing for sending me an advance copy of No Gods, No Monsters for review!
When Laina gets the news that the Boston police shot and killed her brother, she knows something isn’t right. What looks like just another case of police brutality turns out to be something much stranger. Monsters are real and they are done hiding. As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, a chain reaction of events result in a growing tension of whether humanity is ready to accept that monsters exist. People disappear, hate crimes increase, and protests erupt on all sides. Something big is coming and everyone can feel it. But why did the monsters choose now to come out of the dark?
Don’t ask for too much clarity right at the start of No Gods, No Monsters. Much of the book reads like a collection of puzzle pieces, with seemingly separate storylines and mysterious narrators. This lead to my only issue with the book; with so many characters, I found the jumps between locations and times a little jarring. I wanted to spend more time with each character to truly get to know them. Still, with Cadwell Turnbull’s beautiful and immersive writing, I did get into the flow of the book and came to appreciate each character as their own.
Turnbull successfully uses the lens of monsters to delve into themes of trauma, family, love, identity, violence and more. In another writer’s hands, the equating of how humanity treats the marginalized among us to monsters would be too simple and expected. Turnbull, however, goes deeper, and it works so well. The image of werewolves marching along a highway in protest before returning to their vulnerable human bodies was particularly striking, and it will definitely stick with me for a long time.
No Gods, No Monsters is a beautiful and compellingly human story. If you enjoy a semi-chaotic but wholly unique writing style, immersive prose and strong social commentary then you should definitely check out it out. Turnbull’s other work includes 2019’s The Lesson and a short story in the recent collection Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda.
TW: blood and gore, child abuse, death, drug use, gun violence, implied domestic abuse, implied sexual abuse, mass shooting, overdose, police brutality
This review was originally published on 9/2/21.