Cover Image: No Gods, No Monsters

No Gods, No Monsters

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Member Reviews

I was excited about this book, but it fell flat for me. The book skipped around a lot and I was often very confused as to what was happening. It was hard to keep the stories and characters straight.. I wanted to like this book and I think others will definitely enjoy it, but it just wasn't for me.
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Thank you to Blackstone a publishing and Netgalley for my gifted copy of No Gods, No Monsters.

This book has all of the things I love in it. Werewolves, supernatural beings, warring secret societies, LGBTQIA+ rep, BIPOC rep, people fighting for justice, Folklore and more.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I probably wasn’t quite smart enough to understand this book. The characters are introduced on the fly, the POV changes frequently with no warning, there’s an omniscient narrator of sorts that appears and disrupts scenes you didn’t know they were present for. All in all, I spent most of the book confused.

There are elements of horror, magic and urban fantasy all mixed with a modern sense of oppression and violence made worse by social media. This book touches on countless ways that people can be hurt and characters that have survived some of the worst things that can happen to a person. The whiplash narration style just lost me a lot. I couldn’t keep up and it’s all quite bleak. 

Overall, I wanted to love this book because of the characters, the supernatural and the message but I just couldn’t keep up. 2.5 stars ⭐️
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I’m writing this immediately after finishing it so if this runs incoherent at tines it’s because I’m still trying to process and digest what I just read. 

Like a mash up of NK Jemisin, Neil Gaimen, and maybe, I don’t know, an X-men origin story, Cadwell Turnbull’s latest novel is both fascinating and frustrating at turns, confusing and ambitious with one of the most diverse collection of characters I’ve read in a while. Here’s what you need to know going in: There are no easy answers here, and as this is the first book in a planned series much of this feels like a set up for what’s to come. -Although what that is I can’t completely define. 

The story starts with the all too familiar video of a young black man being shot be a policeman and the dash cam recording the whole thing. The catch is moments before the victim had been a Werewolf and only was revealed to be a human, after he was killed. The incident, referred to hereafter as ‘the fracture’ defines the moment when the general population becomes aware of the existence of monsters. 
Soon we’re chapter jumping with a host of characters who all have compelling stories, but the time spent with each is so short relative to the whole book I had a hard time really connecting. There’s Laina, a bisexual woman married to Ridley, her asexual trans husband, and Laina’s girlfriend Rebecca. 
There's a young boy who in reality is a dragon named appropriately, Dragon who is rescued from a horrific life of ritualistically sacrificing people to a cult like organization. There’s a book collective and a host of characters who belong to that, an omnipresent narrator who observes more than participates and a senator who can morph into a dog and her sister who is invisible and lives off her siblings blood.  Phew. 

Turnball is ambitiously playing with ideas of outcasts and others, race and classism while pitting warring mysterious factions against each other and it’s hard at this point to know who is actually good and who is bad. I’m sure much of this will be revealed in the next installment, but I personally found, while it was all accessible and at times compelling storytelling there was too much by the end that just left me both confused and hanging form the proverbial cliff. This is a book that would benefit from a buddy read or a group chat to sort through the forest, and if any of you have read or are planning to I would love to get your thoughts.
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This book absolutely blew me away. On the surface, it is an urban fantasy with light horror elements about humanity realizing monsters exist. But anyone who picks this up expecting a typical urban fantasy might be put off by what they actually will get. 

Similar to Turnbull's debut novel, The Lesson, No Gods, No Monsters is more of a literary speculative fiction. There is a wide cast of characters who's connections slowly start to  form to a larger story, and there is more of a focus on word choice and theming than plot. Also similar to The Lesson, the themes in No Gods, No Monsters are not being hidden. The monsters are very clearly a stand-in for other marginalized groups and there were some pretty timely messages about misinformation and the way society reacts to information it doesn't like. For example this response when a main character asks a friend they are a monster denier:

"Okay. You know about flat-earthers, right? Don't get me wrong, I know the earth is round. But I can empathize with the desire to hold things firm in your own hands. I've seen monsters the same way I've seen pictures of space. It makes sense to leave some room for doubt, to be uncertain."

It's hard to say much more about the book, as the beauty of it is unraveling the details as you read, but I think if the reader goes in with the right expectations, they will love this. The prose is sparse and hauntingly beautiful at times. The cast of characters got confusing but never so muddled that I lost trust in Turnbull knowing what he's doing. I hate to use the word enjoyable because the content of this book is incredibly heavy, with content warnings for police brutality, sexual assault, drug addiction, overdose, and more, but I loved watching the layers of this story unfold.

Also nestled in the acknowledgements, Turnbull states that references to The Lesson in this novel are meaningful so you can bet that I will be rereading both The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters with my highlighter and tabs readily available before the sequel comes out.
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This unusual literary urban fantasy novel is about more than the paranormal ‘monsters’ living hidden in the human world. It’s a metaphor for minorities of all types who want to be seen and heard. The monsters are representative not only of all types of paranormal creatures from shape shifters to witches, seers, vampires and even a dragon and but also of all colours, races and genders. 

It’s a difficult book to read if you’re looking for a tightly woven plot. Instead, it’s a patchwork of snapshots loosely tied together by the characters and their stories. There are a lot of characters and I did find it difficult to sort out their relationships and connections until about half way through the book when the plot started to gel. The novel is partly written in first person, by an unknown narrator and partly in third person and also jumps from past to present adding to the complexity of the novel. However, the prose is beautiful and the best way to read it is to immerse yourself in the writing, be patient and let the meaning sneak up on you. It’s also a novel that would benefit from a second reading as I feel there is a lot more to unpack than I appreciated the first time through.
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I hate to say it, but I DNFed this book. I got about a third of the way through and realized I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and I couldn’t keep track of the characters. Everything was just so vague, and I was baffled by the anonymous first person narrator. Perhaps it was a case of right book, wrong time — this seems to be a very complex novel that requires a lot of attention and focus.
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Reading the blurb on this book, I was intrigued enough to give it a try. I started it, and it didn’t take me long to be a little confused. The writing was very different than I’ve read before, not that that is a bad thing. It is very lyrical and descriptive, and the author has a unique voice. I continued reading, and I did become less confused as the book went on and more used to the writing. At times, this book has an eerie tone to it, which I did love. However, I never really connected to the characters or come to really care about what happens to them as it seemed I never quite understood what was going on exactly. Just a little bit more connections to the characters and understanding them would have helped. That’s too bad because I think I would have loved this book with a little more explanation especially since the representation in the book is great, and maybe a little bit more diving into the fantasy aspects. This isn’t for me because while it’s sort of urban fantasy, it’s more about social injustice. This would be good for others, though.
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No Gods, No Monsters (The Convergence Saga: Book 1) by Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull's second book is beautifully written and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next and to figure out what the heck is going on. There are multiple storylines, multiple types of monsters, multiple universes, and many, many characters. It can be confusing and at times seems like a big ball of confusion. In the end though, Turnbull has gotten us to the point where we understand much of what has happened, leaving just enough unexplained to set us up for the next book in this new series.

The book is written almost as a flow of consciousness. One thing does seem to easily follow another, though understanding how they are all connected will take patience on the part of the reader. Some may find it a bit of a mess, but I stuck with it and was rewarded to see that there are indeed layers being peeled back slowly. 

On second thought, "stuck with it" is a bit harsh. It's so well written that it wasn't a chore at all to keep reading. Just the opposite in fact - I almost couldn't put it down. Yes it was frustrating as one thing built on top of another without, at first, obvious connections. How exactly the first person narrator fits into the rest of the story is probably the most frustrating part, and is one of the last layers revealed. Even given all that I really enjoyed the ride and am looking forward to seeing what Book 2 will bring.

I also enjoyed how Turnbull mixed real characters and real world ideas into the story, and loved how he used them to ground his fantastical ideas. 

One last thing - buried in the credits at the end of the book the author says "the references to The Lesson [his first book] are meaningful." I haven't read The Lesson but now I may have to go back and pick it up to see what he's talking about.

I highly recommend No Gods, No Monsters for fans of science fiction and fantasy, especially those drawn to stories of monsters and magic. I rate this book Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

NOTE: I received this book through Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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There is some serious world-building mindfuckery on display in this book. The writing is spare and stunning, drawing up images, emotions, and philosophical questions with apparent ease. The narration style confused me at first, not because it is poorly done but because it intends to obscure. We have a seemingly invisible observer as a first-person narrator popping in and out of third-person narration surrounding interconnected but distinct people and plots. I found this an intriguing approach, especially because each person was magnetic even as they were enigmatic. My favorite character was Ridley, an anarchist and worker-owner of a co-op bookstore, who also happens to be an ace trans man. The different characters lead us through the moments where they are pivotal actors or key witnesses in a historic shift for humanity. There is something more natural about this multifaceted approach than following in the wake of a single hero who sees and does everything herself.

I'll keep the discussion of plot brief because I don't want to ruin the experience of seeing the mysteries unfold as the author intends. The gist is this: in the near future, humanity fractures open at the revelation of monsters among us, leading to violence, hatred, and the unveiling of long-pursued secret agendas. The conflicts among many factions will sow chaos on a massive scale.

This eerie fantasy has elements of physics and monster lore spread across a vast landscape, only the first tentative venture in what will require greater exploration. It covers harsh and relevant topics of structural violence, capitalism, abuse, and drug addiction while also peering into philosophical debate about choice and meaning that will take significant time and thought to percolate.

Thanks to Blackstone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this cleverly woven tapestry of a book, out 9/7.
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This book is about monsters becoming known in day-to-day life. It’s essentially literary urban fantasy- monsters walking around the city, hiding in the shadows. It is unique and beautifully written. This book was unsettling and made me anxious at times, but it did make me want to learn more, even if it was a little hard for me to get into.

Laina’s brother was brutally killed by the police. Is it blatant brutality or is there more to the gruesome death? So, of course, the author is talking about more than monsters beneath the surface.

This one would be good for fans of literary fiction with social commentary and the supernatural. I struggled with the stream of consciousness approach, with the “all knowing” narrator. I did like how mysterious the narrator was throughout the book. 

There were parts that were hard to follow, as there were a lot of characters, and the narration moves from character to character without warning. The narration also switches from 1st person to 3rd person, so at times I had no clue what was going on. There was also a lot of jumping from the past to the present, which also made it hard to follow at times. 

I wanted to know more about the characters and their backstories. I noticed that this is the start of a series, and I think the author could have gone into more depth in places, highlighting a few major characters with fewer flashbacks, which made the read confusing at times. 

I am an impatient reader, and struggle to “go with the flow” at times, so I was reluctant to trust the author to have it all come together in the end. I feel as if I would need to read this a second time to truly appreciate it. I think the book is an allegory about minorities and social conflicts, but I was unfortunately too confused at times to fully appreciate these deeper themes.
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God damn, this book is beautiful and brilliant.
At first I thought I was maybe too dumb (or too white) to understand what Turnbull was getting at. But the story ends up weaving together so beautifully and perfectly. The only issue I really had was keeping up with all the characters and how they connect. Will probably reread soon but keep a list of all the characters so I can better connect the dots.
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DNF at page 65. 

So… the premise of this book sounded fascinating. The execution, however, left a lot to be desired for me. I still don’t know who the narrator even is, or if the narrator is different for each section, as the narrator sometimes changes mid-chapter between omniscient and first-person point of view. The multiple characters and time jumps were jarring and confusing. I like books that are mysterious throughout (such as Piranesi by Susanna Clarke) but this was too much and made everything one giant jumble in my head, one that wasn’t getting any clearer the more I read. Just not for me.
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I generally love a good fantasy/sci-fi book, especially one that kicks off a trilogy. Unfortunately, this was not one of those for me.

While I found the writing and storytelling good for the first half of the book, it waned for me quite quickly. Even knowing that it the first in a series didn't make the ending any clearer. 

This book may appeal to others, but it just didn't do it for me.
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Wow! I comprehended maybe 10% of this book and I weirdly mean that in a very good way???? This is quite the setup for whatever comes next- I am totally in, and I realllllly look forward to reading this book again before the next in the series comes out. I am sure that I will find lots of genius details that I missed the first read through, and I’m truly excited about it.  

The writing really is flawless and propulsive- no clunkiness here. There is some great representation, new creatures, creatures from folklore, cults…..everything. 

Will absolutely recommend!
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"I'm not meant to be a thing that makes sense." So says the lone, first-person 'I' character, Calvin, in *No Gods, No Monsters.* Cal shows up at odd times throughout the narrative. He confuses the narrative. But as with all the many (so many) characters and arcs in Cadwell Turnbull's genre-defying book, confusion is the price you pay for reading it. It's 100 percent worth it. And I am 100 percent invested in the world in which Turnbull sets this first book in The Convergence Saga. NGNM's world is a lot like the one we're in. Confusing -- with monstrous people living among us. Except in NGNM, the monstrous people are literal monsters (werewolves, shape-shifters, all the mythical beings) who have always lived among us. Anyone who knew this kept it to themselves. Until now. This is the overarching question posed. Why now? Monsters have come out of the shadows and they're afraid for their survival. They're willing to march with humans side-by-side, but they're not the only secret cloaking world order. Secret societies threaten both monster- and humankind. So why now? What has happened that has flushed monsters into the open, vulnerable and afraid, yet ready to rise up and raise their voices? Be patient, trust the author, and hang in there for book 2 in The Convergence Saga. 
[Thanks to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an opportunity to read an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my opinion.]
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This was an odd book. I went into it thinking that it was going to be this cool book that explored what it would be like if monsters were real and were pushed out of hiding. Instead, I found myself reading this interwoven narrative filled with too many characters that never really made sense. There were so many characters, timelines, and other  dimensions? that it became really convoluted and hard to read. There was a lack of cohesion that made all these levels of the book feel like separate stories instead of one novel. 

After reading, I was left with questions and a distinct lack of answers. I am honestly not sure what I read. I know it wasn't what the summary made it out to be,  because it was both more and somehow less at the same time. I think the author did a great job exploring different themes; however, I can't say that I enjoyed the book.
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When I first saw this one, I was excited. Perfect Spooktober read right? (I tend to start a little early 😂) Sadly, this one just wasn't for me.

Overall disappoinment.

It isn't the writing, because the writing is beautiful. For me, it's the flow.

It's also that this isn't a fluid story. It's more like a lot of little stories put together that sometimes have the same characters and sometimes have more .. a lot more. I'm just not a reader who enjoys this type of format.

I think those that enjoy short stories with characters that aren't fully recognized or explored, may enjoy this one. I, however, love well developed characters and a fully flowing storyline. One reason I don't usually read short stories. Had I known this one follows that guideline, I would have passed.

I sincerely appreciate the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy. All opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.
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This book is lovely. It's written so beautifully -- It's like what THE STARLESS SEA wanted to do, but actually done well. The social commentary and allegorical storyline is strong, and I'm always here for a outsiders = monsters story. The perspective felt fresh. `

But the writing style is what really drew me in. NO GODS, NO MONSTERS isn't always easy to follow, but what a ride!
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I dont know if I was just disappointed by this because I had high expectations but I found this to be a bit lackluster in some areas. It's not a bad book and I think a lot of people are going to like but I just didn't. I'm not sure why I didn't like it, but I didn't.
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I too wanted to like this but I got lost in the varying voices.  Laina has no idea of the extent of the monsters that exist in our world until her beloved brother is shot by a police officer and she's sent a video where he's transforming from a werewolf.  This leads her into a new understanding and exploration.  Turnnall offers a a wide-ranging look at the monster community, as it were, through characters such as Rebecca, Calvin, and Harry.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I'm sure others will enjoy it and  I put this down, unfinished. with great regret.
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