One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother has been 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.
... an intricate sequence of moving, intimate character portraits ... The depth and care with which Turnbull inhabits each character is riveting; despite an expansive cast spread over wide terrain, I never felt lost or confused. His attention to location detail is considered and clear: The story shifts from Massachusetts to St. Thomas to Virginia with confident ease, carried by beautiful, conversational prose that’s startlingly punctuated by reminders of who’s narrating the stories — and how ... Finishing a book without knowing it’s the first in a trilogy is a little like looking down after chasing the Roadrunner off a cliff. In retrospect, I can appreciate how thorough a grounding Turnbull has given this sprawling first act; at the time, I flailed helplessly. Hopefully I’ve spared you that, and you can let yourselves sink into this tender, ferocious book like hands into piano keys, or teeth into flesh.
... distinctive ... the novel places society’s taboos front and center, constructing a narrative replete with social critiques and criticism. And its precise language and masterful storytelling make each character’s story compelling and immediate. Difficult magical concepts are also made accessible and engaging through logical explanations that sometimes become scientific ... a horror and fantasy novel with a sociological bent, in which many secrets wait to be unearthed.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: Cadwell Turnbull’s second novel No Gods, No Monsters is absolutely worth your time. If you’re at all a fan of science fiction and fantasy, if you’re at all interested in deep characterization and interiority playing out against the fantastical, if you’re into the interplay of how genre can operate in conversation with the real world, if any of that is your bread and butter, then you’re good; you can stop reading this review and go pick up the book. You’re welcome ... I can’t get over how impressive this book is ... What you get from this formula of plot is much better than the standard focus on these secret societies. What Turnbull has made a priority, among many things in this novel, is the laser focus on character interiority and perspective ... And for all that the above balancing act requires, Turnbull refuses to smooth over or shove aside the complexity of the everyday world we live ... a staggering achievement of literary craftsmanship, a complex juggling act of plot, tension, character interiority, worldbuilding, thought experiment, using trust from the reader as the fuel that pushes the book forward, page by page. It is a piece of narrative alchemy, and I’m in awe, knowing just how much work must’ve gone into this book to make it the piece of art it is. I said it at the top and I’ll say it again: Cadwell Turnbull’s new novel is absolutely worth your time. Go and grab a copy now, and then join me in the waiting line for whatever he’s got coming next, because I know that will be worth it, too.