With a title like MONSTER, one would expect the book to be filled with horrific images of creatures from our nightmares and gruesome deaths at their hands. Interestingly, author Keith Ferrario’s latest release from Samhain Publishing titled as such offers none of these. Granted, the novel does have a strange creature, but it is far from monstrous, as are its actions. This by itself does not ruin the book, however when it is combined with the misleading title and a couple of other aspects, the result is only a mediocre read.
If you are not familiar with MONSTER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:
Adam Hayes pilots a small team to a remote Antarctic research station. Their mission: to investigate the loss of communications. Once there, the group of five find the station deserted, the radio smashed, and several strange piles of empty clothing. Forced to stay the night by a blinding snowstorm, they set out to solve the mystery of the missing crew. Eventually they will learn the horrifying truth—the station is not empty after all, and something unimaginable, dug up from the deep ice, roams the complex. Now they must fight for their lives against a cunning, thinking monster—and those who would unleash this terror on the rest of the world.
Don’t get me wrong: this not a bad book. It’s an ok novel that simply does not stand out for any reason. It could be a very good book…if it were split into two separate entities. Let me explain.
MONSTER is separated into two sections, Part 1 and Part 2. Both are written well and flow at a nice clip whenever considered individually. However, both also read like two different stories. Part 1 takes place in 1991 Antartica. Part 2 takes place 12 years later, halfway around the globe. Spacing the story out like this doesn’t necessarily kill it, however it slows the pacing down considerably because each Part contains two sets of characters. This means creating backstories and whatnot for each set, and therefore squashing the tone already set by the previous chapters.
Similarly, the story itself shifts dramatically between the two Parts as well. Part 1 is a tense, adrenaline-fueled battle for survival in the coldest region of the world. Part 2, on the other hand, is a slow-burning mystery-thriller. I would have preferred a continuation of the Antartica storyline, however a solid piece of either one would have been nice.
Still, Ferrarios’ writing style flows well and his concepts are wild and imaginative. The characters are well-written and fleshed out to the point of realism. The overarching storyline in MONSTER is interesting and compelling, and it could have been very chilling if it had played out a little differently.
MONSTER is not great, but it’s not terrible either. I recommend it if you’re looking for something quirky that is not necessarily horror, so much as a mystery thriller. The book is available now in a variety of formats.