Humor and horror collide in “Monster Hunter Vendetta”

Just in time for Halloween, Larry Correia delivers another heaping helping of monster-slaying goodness with his latest novel, “Monster Hunter Vendetta.”

The sequel to “Monster Hunter International,” “Vendetta” picks up approximately six months after our hero, Owen Pitt, defeated Lord Machado and the Old Ones. While on assignment in Mexico, Pitt discovers that he’s been targeted for assassination by a death cult, The Church of the Temporary Mortal Condition, which worships the Old Ones. To make matters worse, the Condition is also going after his family.

And if things weren’t bad enough, the Federal Government’s Monster Control Bureau wants to use Owen as bait to draw out the Condition, which means that Owen gets to spend the whole story being baby-sat by his arch-nemesis, the hulking, monosyllabic Agent Franks.

Once again, Correia masterfully pulls action, horror and a healthy dose of comedy together into an epic fantasy adventure that even casual readers will find themselves unable to put down. The story is a wild roller-coaster ride that will grab hold of your eyeballs and not let go until you finally finish the book.

Part of the reason for this addictiveness is Correia’s incredible gift of language, which leads to some pretty incredible characters and objects. Where else are you going to read about an armored SUV with “a quarter-million horsepower engine that was forged in the fires of Mordor”?

The humor in “Vendetta” is no less side-splittingly funny than its predecessor’s, thanks to Correia’s knack for taking fantasy clichés and completely tearing them apart. As if the elves and orcs from “International” weren’t funny enough, this time around Correia goes after gnomes and trolls. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that these gnomes have been influenced by certain inner-city subcultures. And as for trolls… no, that’s too good to spoil.

In addition to being maddeningly addictive and funny, “Vendetta” also brings new depth to the series by delving into the backgrounds of many of the characters. Correia goes out of his way to explain the histories and motivations of several secondary characters, including MCB Director Myers, and surprisingly enough, Agent Franks. Yet Correia manages to integrate these deliberate inclusions seamlessly into the storyline.

That said, while I absolutely loved “Vendetta,” I did not enjoy it quite as much as “International.” As addictive as “Vendetta” was, it just wasn’t as unputdownable as its predecessor. Even so, I give the new novel a solid five out of five stars.

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