I Kill Monsters by Dennis Liggio
I'm not entirely sure how I came across this book - might have been listed as one of the Kindle recommendations. I decided to pick it up based on a reasonable price and the blurb:
"Mikkel and Szandor kill monsters. They're not government funded, they're not from a time-honored lineage of hunters, nor are they rich kids with lots of toys. They're two twenty-something brothers from the poor side of town who have taken it on themselves to rid the streets and underground of creatures who would prey on the innocent. Donning gas masks and using makeshift weaponry, they delve into the labyrinthine sewer system of New Avalon to grapple with snarling zombies, flesh-eating ghouls, insectoid hive creatures, and more. It's a dirty job and it rarely pays, but someone has to do it.
Hired by a woman from the rich side of town who believes she's being stalked by monsters, the two brothers think they've finally gotten an easy job that will pay well. But as they follow the clues, things are not adding up. Kidnappings, jackbooted commandos, and mysterious emails are just the beginning. Soon they find themselves involved in something bigger than monsters. It's anybody's guess whether they'll come through it alive, much less get paid.
I Kill Monsters is an exciting punk rock urban fantasy for those who enjoy their protagonists with a mouth on them and a weapon in their hands."
----- Some mild spoilers ahead -----
The action takes place in the city of New Avalon. It seems like a perfectly normal city, bar the monsters, of course. It also has a unique system of sewers, which are a background to quite a few action scenes in the book.
As an urban monster novel - it did not disappoint. There is a variety of monsters, some of which are based on good aul salamanders, like vampires; there are zombies and ghouls; Szandor also killed a snake. However, my favourite monsters were Spiders. There is something very primal about fear of creepy crawlies, especially if those are bigger, meaner creatures, with enough pack instinct to plan an ambush and an ability to use human bodies like marionettes. Yeesh!
The narrative is from the first-person perspective. That perspective belongs to a brash, cocky, and occasionally reckless 20-year-old. It feels very bloke-ish, but having in mind who is telling the story, I didn't mind it very much. It felt very much in the spirit of the character.
When it comes to the characters, they are mechanically correct in terms of their built. There is a tragic backstory, which drives them and colours their actions. There is also some depth to them, but I will return to that in a moment. What I did like, was the fact that they held their menial day jobs on top of the side-gig of monster hunting, which is not well paid and comes with plenty of expenses, and had to take a day off if a hunt came up. Pretty realistic for anyone who wants to pay their bills and have a side hustle, whatever it may be. Another thing I liked was their gear - a rag-tag ensemble of pieces selected based on what was accessible without causing a lot of suspicions and able to protect the wearer, but rarely matching or looking cool.
Liggio's writing can feel a bit clunky at times, though it is of a good craft.
It doesn't have as much depth as some other stories, but after a few books that took a heavy emotional toll on me, I welcomed this change.
The action scenes are entertaining and held my attention; the plot moves along at a decent pace; there are twists.
I would describe this book as Jean-Claude Van Damme of literature. If you're looking for a deep plot or characters, you'll probably end up disappointed, however, if you're looking for a fun read where shit goes boom and monsters run rampant - this may be a book for you.
-----I Kill Monsters on Goodreads