Cover Image: No Gods, No Monsters

No Gods, No Monsters

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Member Reviews

I really wanted to love this book and I thought I would. However, despite my best efforts I just couldn't get into it and stay interested. The concept and plot was super interesting, as was the worldbuilding but I just couldn't stay focused and invested. 

I read this partially in book format and partially listened to it as an audiobook. The audiobook was probably easier to follow along for me and I thought the narration was perfect for the style and genre of this book. 

The cast of characters was diverse and all seemed to have interesting backstories and motivations but I just didn't click with them like I expected I was. 

Overall, this was a decent book but it just wasn't for me. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
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Netgalley e-ARC


I randomly added this book into my August Netgalley reading vlog because I saw it on a YA LGBTQIA+ fantasy reading list and I have never been more happy with my compulsory need to add books to my TBR.

Completely unexpected, this book imagines what life would be like if werewolves were suddenly exposed to the real world. Alive, living & breathing, very real MONSTERS, which then opens up Pandora's box to the question: if werewolves are real, then what else is too?

I LOVED this book so much. Love, love, LOVEEEED this book. I'm not going to lie I was very confused for the first part of it, but the writing execution is so good that I had to keep going. I'm so glad I did! 

This is obviously an urban fantasy, BUT ALSO did you know there are sci-fi elements as well? O_0 WHAT. I loved the originality of the monsters and what their powers are, and putting it into an urban fantasy setting... y'all I loved it. We have real honest to god monsters that were alive when Dracula roamed the earth, and our MCs are still trying to beat 5 o'clock traffic to get to a birthday party on time. 

There is also some really nice LGBTQIA+ rep, mental health rep, and I loved the questions this book brings up about the value of a person's life- I.e. if a monster isn't deadly, just different, are they still considered people? Can all monsters be put into the same category regardless of their intentions and who they are? Loved it. LOVED IT.

Overall, if you're an urban fantasy reader, and you want a story with a sprinkle of sci-fi, mystery, romance, diversity, heartbreak, and downright REALNESS, then this is the book for you. Highly recommend!!

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absolutely incisive. really well written along with being relevant and compelling. can't wait to read more from turnbull
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Wow wow wow. This took me on quite a ride and made me question what we know about the world.

It dove into the paranormal/supernatural, the secret organizations, the magic and the scientific theories that surround us, the reality that we know, the hardships that people go through, the society and the system we live in.

Another thing that really impressed me is the writing style and the prose. It was dark and eerie and so captivating. And the fact that the author blended horror, fantasy, and science fiction and he did it so brilliantly. 😭👏

There are a lot of characters and it can get confusing/hard to keep up. However, the way these different characters and their perspectives intertwine was so cool and impressive. (And hello??? That unnamed narrator?!) Kudos to the author for creating such an intricate yet satisfying network of point of views.

I really enjoyed reading this y'all. This one surprised me and I loved it!

E-arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Full review soon!
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Today I have No Gods, No Monsters By Chadwell Turnbull. The story follows an assortment of characters, but it predominantly all surrounds or is tied to Liana, who’s brother was gunned down by a Boston cop. At first it just looks like police being brutality, but a video cam recording reveals it’s more than just that. We find out that Monsters, like actual monsters actually exist. And they want to be heard, despite the “regular folks” wanting to pretend they don’t exist.

This book focuses on topics similar to racial injustice, discrimination, hate crimes, but with the element of the individuals being attacked are "monsters".

The one thing about this book that I disliked was it did feel a bit all over the place. While it was BEAUTIFULLY written there were so many characters and at times I felt a bit disconnected because you would read from a certain characters POV and then come back to them waaaaaaay later in the story and think "Wait, who is this, and why are they important?"

That being said I would still HIGHLY recommend this book if you are into fantasy, urban fantasy, and mythology. It's for sure a page turner, and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in the series.
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Unlike traditional western storytelling, this story isn't linear and it makes it all the more interesting. This is something that won't be for everyone; it keeps you guessing and sometimes confused until the end, but I loved it and it's social commentary. Definitely worth a try.
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Let me start this off by saying this is a fantastically intersectional urban fantasy with layers upon layers. I was thoroughly intrigued and impressed by the story. Being the first book in a new saga, I expected to be left with questions to hype the continuation of the story (nailed it).

The undertones of this story provide important conversations that need to be had regarding social critiques and criticisms from marginalized communities. The fantasy elements only make the storytelling more captivating. The queer representation was top tier. 

Don’t let the thick and heavy nature of this story deter you. This one is worth reading!
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3.5 stars

Engaging, vast, fun

I am grateful to Blackstone publishing for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review.

I had to sit with this one for a while before writing my review, because I wasn't that sure about how the reading experience went. Firstly, I love my West Indian settings and this book definitely delivered on that. Not only did Turnbull give us that location, but he also emphasized the relationships, sense of community, vibe, and culture within this story. It made everything feel more grounded and real. I also really appreciate seeing the monsters of my culture presented alongside those that we seed often in literature. I mean, where else have you seen a dragon and a succouyant on the same page? Stunning.

The plot was interesting and evenly paced (though a bit too fast for me personally). It didn't feel overwrought, but there always seemed to be something happening. The story and plot threads were layered nicely too. The book starts off with a mystery that we very quickly get to the bottom of, but the story just expands from there. When I say it expands I mean the scope is vast, and Turnbull manages to hold all of it together as we're taken on an interesting journey.

I enjoyed the characters, they were varied and added nicely to the interconnectedness (pretty sure this isn't a real word... is it?) of the plot. However, there were A LOT of characters, and this was not a particularly long book. It is the start of a series so that may work as a whole, but I feel like the story felt a bit crowded at times. If you are used to reading fantasy though, I'm sure you will be fine.

In the end I decided that I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing where the rest of the story goes and reading more from this author. I would recommend this specifically for fans of urban fantasy.
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If you’re reading this on NetGalley— the format of the book makes it a difficult read. The font is really small and the borders don’t lock when you increase it so you have to scroll sideways to read it. Couldn’t finish it
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This is a sort of Marmite book that you can love or hate, a mix of literary/speculative fiction with a urban fantasy setting.
I was attracted by the blurb but I found the style of writing confusing and the plot was quite slow.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This was an extremely confounding book. I'm sorry to say that I did not have enough patience to pull through until the end.

I do love strange narratives. And I prefer books playing with the timeline and POV's over streamlined ones. This is why I thought this book was for me. But reading through the first 1/3 of the book, then skimming through the second 1/3, I can only say that this book flew over my head.

From the beginning, the book alludes to grievances of minorities, but did it have to be so complex? We get some intentionally disjointed anecdotes about some characters— which one is the main character? I kept asking myself. After reading on, they all seemed like side stories to me. I honestly could not focus on any of them. I couldn't connect with any of them. I would have followed through if I had a sense of an overarching theme or plotline. But sadly, I didn't. I couldn't understand this book. It flew right over my head.

Don't get me wrong, the writing does stand out, The author is clearly talented with words, but I'm not sure about the laying out of the plot here. I truly loved the writing, but the execution ruined it for me. I couldn't enjoy the story. Enticing as the premise may be, I lost interest very early on. I kept at it a bit after that in hopes it'll make sense, but up until the midpoint of the book, it didn't.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy of this book.
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I can see why the reviews are so vastly mixed. On the one hand, I liked the idea of this story very much. On the other hand, the way this story was executed did the story a disservice. Therefore, I have to go with a 3.5 rating rounding down to 3. 

Here is the skinny...

The beginning of the story takes off. It is exciting, fun, and truly engaging. Monsters are being exposed and people realize they aren't the only beings existing in the dark. Okay, you got my attention a modern (and past) day issue with a twist. And the author managed to keep my attention throughout. But I struggled greatly with the millions of characters and unfolding of the story. 

For some reason, we get the beginning of the story. Suddenly it halts. And we get a ton of "parts" that break down a character's life and experience before monsters were exposed. Then time ceases to exist or something? And it is a year later/the end of the story. It felt almost like a series of incomplete short stories. There were many jumps that offered little to no progression or forward movement of the story. I probably wouldn't call this story a complete novel in the typical sense. My notes from this reading say, "Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the story. But I can't help but feel like it is a whole bunch of fantastical nonsense thrown together with no real direction." And it felt that way until the completion of the story. 

And I briefly mentioned the number of characters. This gets really confusing. Especially when Turnbull begins new chapters with no inclination as to who the narrator is at that point. And it really got frustrating. It didn't work seamlessly as it can due to the number of characters that continuously were introduced for like 3/4th of the book. It was too much with no clarification and it again harmed the book. One of my greatest pet peeves is an overabundance of characters that aren't easily differentiated. It was especially confusing with the author's style of storytelling.

I will give the author a shout out for the mentioning of classic Kanye. "All Falls Down" is my favorite too, Turnbull. Additionally, I loved how inclusive this story was. Give me more couples with modern situations like Laina, Ridley, and Rebecca. Turnbull has a flair for other areas of social justice (outside of LGBTQ+) and I'm a reader here for it. 

Okay, real talk. I'm unsure if I want to continue this series. As I said, I enjoyed the idea, but Turnbull has some major work to do in regards to story delivery, especially in series. It was all over the place and quite messy. Many reviewers were turned off by this style including myself. Best of luck for the next round. I certainly won't be requesting an ARC. I'll need some feedback before I pick up the second installment. 

Thank you NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the read.
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I’ve never read any books by Cadwell Turnbull before, but the synopsis of No Gods, No Monsters piqued my interest. I was not disappointed. This book was absolutely incredible and Turnbull is definitely an auto-buy author for me from here on out. 

However, I will note that I am not an ownvoices reviewer. Please center reviews from Black readers when making a decision on this book!
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- “im going to tell you a story. and like so many stories, this one begins with a body.”
- this is so confusing and so unique and i am so intrigued 
- okay i think im just confused 
- this is like a cross between fantasy and literary fiction 
- lots of caribbean folklore 
- “a march is not just a voice against violence and trauma, but also a reminder that even in a cause that is stacked against them, no one is alone”
- there were passages i absolutely LOVED 
- but mostly i just didn’t quite understand what was going on or who was who or how people related
- i think maybe if i went into this with a different expectation i would have liked it more?
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Cadwell Turnbull’s sophomore book, and opening novel in the Convergence Saga defies expectation and easy definition. Turnbull’s first book, The Lesson, was one of my favorite books of 2019, so this next one was saddled with high expectations. In a lot of ways, those expectations were met, but I also experienced a lot of confusion that approached baffling disappointment. Only became even more troubling to my mind when I read the acknowledgements in the back of the book, only to find my main feelings addressed by the author himself. So how can I approach this review in a way that highlights the strengths of the book, without making it sound like the confusion feels bad, especially when it seems so deliberate? No Gods, No Monsters is an ambitious and ambiguous start to a saga that shows promise, but requires the reader to work for it too. 

Laina awakens to find out that her wayward brother was shot and killed by Boston Police. Since she was estranged from him, the suddenness of his death, while shocking, didn’t feel immediately mysterious. However, a voice over the telephone promises she can get her a copy of the bodycam footage of her brother’s demise, opening Pandora’s box. Meanwhile, Laina is also visited by one of her brother’s friends, Rebecca, who tells her that he was getting his act together, and that she’s planning something to help the world remember him. Laina finally receives a flash drive, and upon opening it up, she sees what looks to be a werewolf shot by the officer, until he looks again to see just a man, her brother Lincoln. Days later, Rebecca and a group of others hold a small highway protest wherein they transform on national television into their wolf forms, only to be forgotten as some collective moment of hysteria. So what is Laina, and the rest of the world to do, when monsters seem to be real?

If you’re looking for a light hearted urban fantasy romp, I think Turnbull’s style is going to turn you off. No Gods, No Monsters doesn’t have a lot of linearity when it comes to the perspective shifts. There are many characters, and most of them only get one or two chapters with which to view their lives. They are sometimes directly connected, but some are also ships passing in the night. Turnbull tends to pull them in at different times in the narrative, making them slightly disjointed so each switch is an adjustment. It’s enhanced by Turnbull’s excellent writing ability, which provides a solid ground for the reader to stand on during the many shifts. I often felt myself asking who is this character? Have I met them before? What do they believe? Some readers will see this as a lot of work on their part, and it is. I would argue that most of it pays off, but it’s not a breezy reading experience and the reader will have to keep track of a lot of information. 

“How does it pay off?” one might ask. Well, that comes from Turnbull’s ability to provide an incredible amount of nuance to something that most people would assume was cut and dry. Most of the characters are in over their heads in one way or another, as the truer nature of the world is revealed to them. Turnbull makes it interesting by having the reader as the sole keeper of all the knowledge, while individual characters are privy to some of the goings on. All Turnbull does is give the reader the pieces of the puzzle while shredding the box and burning the shreds. This forces the reader to watch the characters deal with the revelations in a myriad of ways, causing dominoes to fall asymmetrically, sparking reactions from other characters, who in turn cause their own cascades. It is written with a deep level of empathy, while creating just the right amount of distance to be analytical about it. 

Where one might have trouble is that the narrative doesn’t really wrap up. It ends in a weird spot, that feels like it could be an ending, but it doesn’t quite cause that satisfaction that the first novel in a series usually closes on. It’s always an opening to a wider world, and a bigger conflict, but usually it closes with a sense of accomplishment, that this is just one small victory in a line of defeats and victories that will make up a series. Instead, there is an ambiguous threat that closes out No Gods, No Monsters and it’s unsettling. And given the rest of the story, this feels right. 

This, I think, has to do with the themes and the subject matter Turnbull drudges up in No Gods, No Monsters. The book’s second opening starts with the murder of a black man by the cops, in which the cop describes killing a monster, only to see a man dying in the street. This is a story that has been told again and again in our own world that it’s hard to ignore it in any fashion. The revelation that the man in question actually was a werewolf, and monsters are in some sense real, further complicates this incredibly horrifying trend in how police tend to view those they kill. Mix in some clandestine secret societies, leftist bookstore worker co-ops, protest marches and mass hallucinations through media manipulation and you have a stew most people would have a hard time swallowing. However, Turnbull navigates the blurred lines deftly, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions before bringing the bigger picture into a less fuzzy focus, providing a clearer understanding of the problems at hand. He not only takes the idea that some people see monsters with hatred at face value, he asks, how do we then navigate this world when those monsters have no power or recognition, and help them to build that power? 

Turnbull doesn’t have the answers, and I think that’s why after finishing this book, I felt a little more drained than I expected. It’s the first in a series, and the first book never has the answers. His only answer seems to be that there is not one answer, but that answering is the one thing we can actually do whether it’s wrong or not. Is this book for you? I sincerely hope it is, because it’s just too damn weird and uncomfortable to not be experienced. It's not that it deals with important relevant events, so much as Turnbull explores the feelings of powerlessness that comes from witnessing such events in such an empathetic way. No Gods, No Monsters is a challenging book that is well worth the effort that pushes urban fantasy into deeper and more uncomfortable territory. 

Rating: No Gods, No Monsters  8.5/10
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I am so very much in love with this book – enough to feel the need to write my first full-length review in half a year. As is often the case when a book is this custom-made for me, I am having problems divorcing my enjoyment from that fact – but I loved it so very much!

No Gods, No Monsters is literary fiction maquerading as urban fantasy and if there is anything that is my absolute catnip, it is this. The prose is brilliant, the character work perfect, and the structure made me happy. Turnbull does something so very clever with perspective that it made me giddy with joy – I love a clever play on perspective and here it did not only work stylistically but also made perfect sense in-universe which is something that I assume is very hard to pull off.

At its core, this is a story about bigotry – and while I am not always a fan of using fantastical creatures as a stand in for minority groups, here it worked well because Turnbull also grounds his book in real world oppression. His characters casually but intentionally have diverse backgrounds and gender expressions and sexual orientations and they feel as real as possible. The inciting incident is a case of deadly police brutality that ends up revealing to the world that monsters (and gods?) are real and among us. From this point the story spirals outward and inward, jumping from one storyline to the next in every chapter. I loved this. I loved this all the more because I felt I could trust Turnbull to know where he is going and what he wants to achieve. I did not find this book confusing but I found it challenging – it kept me on my toes and it made sure I was paying attention. I found the way Turnbull pulled of the various narrative strands very impressive, especially the way he made me emotionally invested in all of these (to be fair, quite a few strands are sibling stories and these are often my favourite). And while the book is definitely dark, it is not hopeless and there is a core of community and community action running through this that made the book ultimately an optimistic one.

In short, I adored this, I want more people to read this and most of all I want the second book in the series (even though this one does have a satisfying ending!).
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Somehow, it's a standard monster narrative, a secret society exposé, a meditation on narrative format itself, and a secret X-Man offshoot.

The meta-narrative and the characters are fascinating. The meditations on grief and identity are particularly well-done, and there's effortless inclusion that doesn't feel pandering or like checking off items on a list. Weaving throughlines to connect characters together and emphasize points for later also was handled well.

The primary narrative could use a little guidance. We spent a lot of time with characters, but we didn't seem to learn much about the rules of this world or the undercurrents of the conflicts. It reads as a series of interconnected novellas, which is a fantastic character study, but it didn't really account for the tonal shift about 80% of the way through the work to a more action-oriented story.

As a sophomore novel with some issues, there's still a lot of genius poking through. I'm intrigued to see where this goes and how much Turnbull reveals about this fractal path he's designed.

Received the ARC from NetGalley.
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I came to No Gods, No Monsters with no expectations.  As my first read by Cadwell Turnbull, I could have imagined that I was reading Stephen King.  This urban fantasy deals with LGBT+ issues and family both that born in and that chosen.  It's a fight between human and monster and if they can co-exist.  It really needs to be concentrated on, or you will miss something. Love the characters and detail.  Thanks Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for this opportunity.
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Three stars for effort and ambition, two stars for execution. 

The story starts with the shooting of a Black man, a murder by the police. There is a coverup, then leaked video footage. And all kind of goes off the rails, both in the world of the novel and the novel itself. 

The reader is expected to wait and let things unfold, and I'm usually fine with that. One of my favorite novels is American Gods, and No Gods, No Monstors reminds me of Gaiman's novel in some ways. But the payoff is not nearly as great. 

Still, I want to give Turnbull credit for his story. Knowing how long it takes to get a book published, I'm assuming he started this before the pandemic and before the 2020 Black Lives Matter marches and protests. If so, then this story is eerily prescient. 

We are living in an age of cognitive dissonance--people simply won't believe what they see with their own eyes or the truth that is being enacted all around them. This is true whether we are discussing the murder of Black people in the streets and their mistreatment in the justice system or the efficacy of COVID vaccines and masking to help curtail the spread of the disease. Turnbull's story can be seen as an allegory for our times and our own "monsters." 

I realize there are those who like to solve the puzzle of the story. Having spent my years as an English major (undergrad, grad, doctoral student), I tend to look for more forthright works these days. This book was, at times, hard work. 

A good book, but not a favorite. It looks as if it is part of a series (The Convergance Saga). I doubt I will read any of them beyond this first one.

Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC and the opportunity to provide this unbiased review.
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