Reviewed: April 7, 2013
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Monster Haven, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 209 Pages
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Carina Press via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Even at five, Zoey knew monsters weren't real. Sure, she was terrified when she thought she saw a monster in her closet as she lay in bed at night, but when her mom came in and opened that closet door, turned on the light, and shooed that imaginary monster right on out of there, Zoey knew that her mom was being the wonderful mother she was, humoring her and taking her fear away by being silly. Monsters aren't real. Everyone knows that.
And for twenty-three years that was merely a fact of life. She grew up, lost her mother, then her father, went to college, even started up a wedding planner business with her best friend. She was a normal, if slightly fashion-challenged adult leading a normal life in the real world. Right up until the morning she wakes up to the tantalizing scent of coffee and finds her closet monster, larger than she remembers, calmly sitting at her kitchen table, drinking coffee and reading the paper. His name is Maurice.
Normal pretty much flies out the window for Zoey at that point, never to be seen again.
In fact, her head hasn't even stopped spinning from one massive paradigm shift when she gets a closet monster for a roommate, starts providing a halfway house for a family of brownies, has a skunk ape on security detail, and an incubus who wants to devour her in all the worst possible ways. Yeah, that last one's got her shaking in her stylishly purple Doc Martins.
And as if being hunted by a sadistic sex demon intent on gobbling her up isn't bad enough, the bastard starts killing women she's been in contact with. No amount of hiding under the covers and squeezing her eyes shut is going to make this particular monster disappear. That's up to Zoey. The wedding planner empath with a heart of gold.
Of all the possible weapons I might have grabbed, I chose a toilet brush. The men's boxers and oversized Hello Kitty t-shirt I wore reinforced my feeling of absolute stupidity. I made a mental note to buy myself a baseball bat, should I live through the next few minutes. And maybe some grownup pajamas.
Best opening paragraph in a book ever! And what a great kickoff to a totally fun read. I'm so happy I tripped over this little gem, because I can't remember a time I've had such a delightfully good time reading about someone else's issues. It wasn't that it was a comedy, though it did have its moments. It was more that it was just a totally awesome cast of magical characters (both human and Hidden) with quirky foibles and immense heart, and all were just too easy to adore.
Zoey was awesome. Loved her. Her narrative was a bright, engaging good time fraught with so many amusing social faux pas that I couldn't help but tumble helplessly into rabid fandom. And I loved Maurice even more. From his first words I knew I would adore him for life. To the point that I was all angsty about the potential for him going back to his estranged wife. The gargoyle who may or may not be cheating on him with a bridge troll. HA!
Balancing out the warm fuzzies and all that delicious weirdness was a Big Bad with some serious teeth. There was nothing fun or easy about Sebastian. I liked that mostly because it kept this book from swaying too much towards the lighter end of urban fantasy, which is always hit or miss for me. No, this certainly isn't a dark and moody piece, but it's not fluff fantasy either. A sex demon hunting Zoey and killing women while taunting her with their deaths definitely adds the gravitas.
It was a solid plotline, though not my favorite part of the book. Critically, it lacked depth and complexity and never quite seemed to become a primary plotline of the story. I found that troubling given the severity of the danger and felt it should have been more of a focus. At times it got overshadowed by other things in Zoey's wacky new life, and I'm not sure I could totally justify that, despite how much I enjoyed Zoey's wacky new life.
That was really my only issue with the read, though. Had the plot threads of the external conflict melded a little better with everything else going on with Zoey, this would have been an absolute grand slam for me. It was still a completely fun, entertaining read with absolutely memorable, lovable characters. I can't wait to get my hands on the next chapter of Zoey's life and spend more time with her extended and expanding family of monsters.
Any day that started this rough should be ignored until it went away.
"There is no way in hell you're getting married in a graveyard. You'll get married in a church like a normal person. I won't have it. Getting married surrounded by dead people. What is wrong with you?"
Spider gave her mother a dramatic, condescending sigh. "Death is the ultimate expression of love, Mother."And this is when I decided I'd better intervene before Mama throttled my bride to show her exactly how much she loved her.
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