Lina is a serving girl at a tavern, who thinks she is doomed to an uneventful life, until a horrible beast attacks her hometown. Such attacks are commonplace; humanity has been cursed by the gods since time immemorial, and bloodthirsty beasts prey on mankind virtually unpunished. Humanity’s only line of defense are the Slayers: armed with divine magic, they are capable of fighting the beasts on equal ground, and are immune to the curse that turns men into monsters.
That particular attack, however, upends Lina’s life. Because it’s not a Slayer who scares away the beast, but an ordinary girl. An outsider. That single discovery makes Lina question whether the life she has is the only possible one, and she embarks on a brief (but bloody) journey of self-discovery through a reality much more complicated than she could imagine.
This was a really quick, fun read.
Set in a world where people can become monsters (beasts, as they’re usually referred to), Lina leads a pretty mundane life. The village guard does their best to keep the beasts at bay, but sometimes they’re outmatched and require the services of a Slayer. The Slayers are warriors favored by the gods, making them immune to some of the beasts’ nastier aspects—the main one being their ability to turn humans into monstrosities.
Coward isn’t long (it may be novella length, but I didn’t check wordcount to verify.) There’s plenty of action, a bit of a love story, and a sibling bond that goes beyond the norm. And then there are the monster battles, where this story really shines.
Despite the short length, there was enough worldbuilding to give the reader a good feel for the setting and the characters involved. I enjoyed this one.