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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley (reviewed by Lena)

Order The Monsters We Feed here
 
OFFICIAL AUTHOR BIO: Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in a secluded grotto in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.

He is an avid fan of books, comics, music, and films of all kinds, and will stop at nothing to keep writing for you. He can be found digitally at THOMASHOWARDRILEY.COM Find him on Twitter as @ornithopteryx, where he is sometimes funny, always clever, and never mean.
 
 
OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The morning before he found the dead body, Jathan Algevin thought he had his whole life just the way he wanted it.

He knows his city inside and out, and doesn’t bother carrying a sword, trusting his wits and his fists well enough to get by, hustling extra coin by ratting out loathsome magi to the law for execution.

He and his sister, Lyra, have watched out for each other ever since the day they were orphaned by a bloodthirsty rogue sorcerer, and now they finally have steady work, good friends, and the freedom to spend every night laughing at the bottom of a bottle.

But nothing lasts forever.

When he stumbles across a brutal murder, Jathan discovers a strange crystal lens that opens his eyes to an invisible world of magick and terror lurking just beneath the surface of his own, making him question everything he thought he knew.

But will gazing into this new arcane realm lead Jathan to save lives, or help destroy them?
With dangerous people hunting for the lens, monstrous lies unraveling his life, and a hidden underworld calling to him, it is only a matter of time before his whole world comes crashing down.

Will he find the answers he is looking for, or will he only find a monster needing to be fed?

FORMAT/INFO: The Monsters We Feed was published by the author on December 6, 2022 in e-book and hardcover formats. It has a page count of 375 pages.
 
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: In The Monsters We Feed, we follow Jathan, who at the beginning of the story is tipping the magistrates on where to find a female magick user and getting paid for it. He believes that all magick users are abominations and that he's helping by turning them in and getting what he wants in the process is a consequence he's not against. He's very closed minded about so many things, especially about magick, and outsiders. 

"Anything is better than a damn outsider."

His life changes when he finds a dead Glasseye and keeps their monocle. He becomes obsessed with it. And after knowing what one of the filters are for, he becomes even more obsessed with finding traces of magick being used. 

"He needed to know where magick had been. He needed to be aware. The urge was an itching, prickling, burning, like thornbrush under his skin."
 
This story is fascinating in how it explores different facets of Jathan’s mind and how the fact that he's so closed minded affects him and the people around him. He's not a very likeable character. I wanted to shake him at several points. He is also a very frustrating character, as he doesn't grow much during at least half of the story. His character’s growth begins as he discovers so many secrets of his city, and the fact that the people closest to him and the people he’d trusted the most were not who he thought they were. His story arc is a very realistic one, I think. 

"We hide from our truths because deep down we know they are foolish, and we don't want anyone to see how foolish we are. So we create elaborate lies to conceal ourselves from those we love."
 
Jathan's sister, Lyra, has a very different personality from her brother's. She wants to see the world, while Jathan is convinced that they won't ever leave Kolchin because that's the way it should be.

"It was a place where you were born and you lived and you worked and you stayed and you died."
 
The magic system is amazing. It is based on telekinesis and physics. The descriptions of it being used and the consequences of using it make it an almost cinematic magic system.

"Magick exhausts those who use it."

The plot centers around Jathan's obsession with the Jecker monocle, all that he sees and all the trouble he gets into because of it.

"When he woke, the monocle was all he thought about."

The setting is very grim, there's a lot of crime and the gangs pretty much own the city. 

"The Kolcha river stank this close to the beach. Mostly because this tended to be where the facedown bodies usually snagged in the reeds or dragged onto the sandy patches."
 
I love when the Dripping Bucket is mentioned in any book and  this one is no exception. It is a fantastic connection to find in different worlds amidst different books. 

“’[...] I would have bet money on the Drinking Bucket or one of the other sourhouses on Winesink Row.’”

CONCLUSION: Overall, The Monsters We Feed is a fast paced, very compelling and thrilling story that just hold your attention until the very last page. I highly recommend it.

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