One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.
As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.
At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?
No Gods, No Monsters is a story that is nearly impossible to sum up… so I’m not even going to try. Told from the POV of a mysterious narrator The story flits between multiple characters, humans and monsters alike and through them we learn how monsters have hidden themselves in the human world for centuries with them none the wiser, but the question that is asked throughout is why the monsters have chosen now to make themselves known. Some characters, like Laina, are followed throughout the book. We see her story from differing perspectives and over a period of time, whereas there are others that only stay for a few pages, but they all make an impact and have an important part to tell in the story.
I’ve never quite read a story that was narrated like this one, we not only get to follow along with the current events of people’s lives, but also get backstories into certain characters thank to our narrator having known them previously. A narrator who we don’t really learn much about until the end of the book. The narration style did throw me a little at first, but once I understood it and started to get into the story, it started to feel natural. You need to trust that the author has you, knows what they’re doing, to be willing to give yourself over to the story knowing you will spend a good portion of the book wondering what, exactly, is happening and why it’s happening now.
On the face of it, No Gods, No Monsters, is an urban fantasy filled with werewolves, vampires… basically every kind of mythical creatures from cultures around the world, that have now decided to show themselves to the human population. We deal with the question of why? Why now?, and also of who, especially for the monsters who can pull off looking normal. We see the fear, the disbelief, the willingness to pretend that it just never happened, but what Turnbull does extremely well is use the monsters to show how society treats those it deem’s ‘different.’ He deftly uses monsters, as well as minorities to bring to light how people are quick to fear things they can’t understand and, instead of trying to learn, to work alongside these people, we tend to let our anger and fear win out inciting violence.
It’s not an easy read, not just because of the narration style, but because of the way the story flips between characters, years, creatures, as well as the themes that Turnbull weaves into the story. And yet despite all that, it’s a story I struggled to put down, thanks in large to Turnbull’s prose, as well as the empathy you can’t help but feel for his characters, human and monster alike. I know this is on the smaller side for one of my reviews, but I wasn’t lying when I said it’s incredibly hard to talk about this book without giving away spoilers. It’s a story you should go into knowing as little as possible, one you will come out of with plenty of questions, and if you’re happy feeling like you never quite know what’s going to happen next, then I can’t recommend this book enough.