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?
Rated-R Dark Fantasy Noir in a city of hope, lust, and brutality, where swords are banned, and magick is just as likely to get you killed as it is to save your life.There are always things about ourselves that we don’t want to see.There are always things we can’t stop doing no matter how hard we try.We all lie. We all have secrets.We are all feeding monsters.
A special thank you to Thomas Howard Riley for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.
The Monsters We Feed is a very different beast from We Break Immortals, Thomas Howard Riley’s debut novel. WBI was an epic, multiple-POV, fantasy adventure-extravaganza, while the TMWF is an intimate, gritty, single-POV character driven mystery/revenge story.
Jathan, our protagonist, is a narrow minded man with anger problems and more than a touch of bigotry. For reasons you will discover, Jathan absolutely hates anything to do with magick. Users of such are nothing but trash to him. When he stumbles across a tool that allows him to see the traces of magick, he slowly descends into obsession, consequences be damned. Consequences that drive the story and send him on a path of destruction, betrayal and maybe, just maybe, growth.
Jathan’s narrow world view is contagious as you read his story. With only his POV, the reader has little reason to doubt his beliefs. THR wonderfully frames Jathan’s beliefs in a way that make you feel for him. To say anymore will venture into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say the character work is so great and any growth, or un-growth, is well realized, believable and gripping.
Also different from WBI, TMWF takes place all in one city. But like the best cities in fantasy, Kolcha feels like a world unto itself. I feel as if I walked the streets myself, a vicarious companion on Jathan’s raucous nights out at the bar, or creeping in the dark hunting magick. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all beautifully brought to life by THR’s vivid prose.
The Monsters We Feed is a perfect gateway into Luminaworld, especially for those intimidated by We Break Immortals. Thomas Howard Riley knows how to tell a compelling story, build a magickal world and craft real, flawed and relatable characters. He is now a must-read author for me, now and from now on.