Cover Image: No Gods, No Monsters

No Gods, No Monsters

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My review for No Gods, No Monsters will not make a lot of sense. The main reason for this is that, to be quite frank, I did not ‘get’ this novel. I did try, I persevered in spite of my mounting confusion, hoping that at some point I would be able to understand the what/why/who/hows of this story…but, having now finished, I can safely (and sadly) say that I’m not sure what was the point of it all.
I’m fine with authors keeping their cards close to their chests. Two of my all fave novels, The Fifth Season and American Gods, do require the reader to have patience in order to understand their narratives. But here, I was never able to catch up with the story. The author seems intent on being as mysterious as possible, which results in a narrative that is confusing for the sake of being confusing. While I liked some of the aesthetics and ideas that were at play, however, I struggled to make sense of far too many scenes, so much so that it hindered my overall reading experience.

We meet Laina, whose brother was shot by a cop. What seems yet another horrific case of racialized police brutality turns out to be something far more bizarre. Not only is Laina's brother revealed to be a werewolf but turns out that there are many other types of monsters living alongside humans. After a viral video reveals this, lots of people ‘lose’ it.

Many of the storylines weren't particularly developed or easy to understand: we have a section follow a cult of sorts, a few bits on a pack of werewolves, another on a ‘dragon’ boy, and a few about Laina and her partner(s). A lot of the time I just struggled to understand how certain subplots fitted in the overarching storyline, as, more often than not, the supernatural element is only hinted at and we don’t always witness it first hand. This just made it harder for me to believe in this particular ‘world’, which, from my perspective, suffered from having a far too-vague world-building. Not only we aren’t given detailed descriptions of these ‘monsters’ but it seemed weird that one viral video would result in people going on to marches against monster 'hate'.

The characters were just as vague as their story, their personalities sidelined in favour of creating a confusing atmosphere. I often got them confused with each other, and some, such as that guy who joins the cult, felt very...unnecessary.

I will say that I appreciated how intersectional this was. The majority of the characters are QPOC, and we get some refreshingly casual lgbtq+ rep (so that we have trans, ace, & queer characters) as well as a (fairly) positive depiction of a polyamorous couple. The monsters are very much a metaphor for minority groups who have been historically persecuted and are still being discriminated against.

But, as much I liked the author’s message (or what i perceived to be their message) I had a hard time reading this novel. Not only was the pacing uneven but scenes that could have been easy to follow were not. The characters play obscure roles in their own stories, and I wish they’d been more fleshed out.
All in all, I’m not sure who I would recommend this to. I usually love storylines that aren’t afraid to be, shall we say, ambiguous, but Turnbull takes it to a whole new level. Confusing and surprisingly wearisome No Gods, No Monsters wasn’t quite the urban fantasy read I’d hoped it would be.
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A big thank you to both Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for this advanced audiobook. 

What happens when a video of a werewolf being shot by police gets uploaded to the internet? Havoc. 

Whilst this has a great and interesting plot, I was unable to finish this audiobook (1/3 through).  The execution of the plot and the writing style however made the audiobook very confusing to listen to. Some plot points were brushed under the carpet a large portion of time to aid the pacing of the book, consequently it was difficult to keep up. 
Chapters also jumped between characters which just added to the confusion. 

I will be reading the physical copy book after release as I do believe it would be a lot easier to keep up with and understand; and as I said earlier the plot concept is very interesting. 

I have to applaud the diversity within this book, it is lovely to see the sci-fi/fantasy genre catching up with the real world.

In spite of this negative review, I must say the Dion Graham’s diction and execution was great.

content warnings: death, loss of a loved one, child abuse, drug usage and violence.
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This will be one of those reviews where I'm not sure I can do the book justice to express its good.

There are creatures among us, but they make sure that their existence is a secret. This changes when Laina is sent a video of her brother transforming into a werewolf before being shot to death by police. She uploads this to the internet, sparking a domino effect that has far reaches.

This book reminds me of The Bone Clocks and The Glass Hotel. Beautifully written books will never get the love they deserve because there are elements of sci-fi/fantasy in the stories. 

Each chapter follows a character who is a fully nuanced person. Everyone is connected in ways that are either immediately figured out or understood later. Characters that are introduced earlier become fully dimensional people during their chapter.

The only problem I had was that it ended and I have to wait for the next book. I wanted to keep reading about what happens next. There is more to their world than the main characters or the reader knows. There are more connections to be made.

The book gets a 5, but the audiobook gets a 4. Dion Graham does a good job, for the most part. However, he does a quick intake of breath that makes it impossible to listen to the audiobook on 1.5 speed. After I got used to it, he's a great narrator.

Review based on an advanced reader copy provided through Netgalley for an honest review.
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This is, most definitely, a must read.

Monsters are real! What the hell are we gon' do now?
I didn't know what to expect from this story, but it delivered everything I liked and more. There's monsters, every type you could possibly imagine, from werewolves to... dragons? There's eldritch terrors picked right from Lovecraft's imaginarium, there's secret societies, time and space travel, and a mysterious narrator.

It's an absolute page turner. A completely diverse cast of characters, LGBT+ and race-wise, that's gonna make you want to know more about every single one of them. Sometimes a fantasy book, sometimes a thriller one, many times a horror. And it all happens seaminglessly. The prose is great, much like a literary fiction.

The audiobook is amazing, but i wouldn't recommend reading it only on audio just because the story is very complex, with a web of characters that might be hard to follow just on audio. I listened to another book with the same narrator, Lovely War, and he also did a wonderful job there. Dion Graham puts an emotive tone to every chapter, elevating the reading experience.

I'm so so happy it's the first in a series because i NEED the next books. I feel like this one just showed me the tip of the iceberg and I'm so excited to see what else is there in the universe Cadwell Turnbull created.
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This book, unfortunately, did not work for me. The narration is done with some stream of consciousness as well as jumping between multiple characters. I felt like I was floating through the story without any place to put an anchor down. I couldn't fall in love with the characters and feel some kind of connection to them because of that. The plot itself was interesting and there were moments I really enjoyed it, but I found that I wasn't engaged enough to keep my attention.
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Thank you Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for this great advanced audio book!

No Gods, No Monsters is a fantastic supernatural story! Turnbull’s writing style is one of the best! 
Beautiful dialogue, real character growth coming out to the world. This is one story y'all will not want to miss! 
This is a fascinating narrative perspective, and fast-paced plot, kept me on the edge of my seat from the very first page. It will suck you right in! 
I read this ebook copy. And once I seen the audio was released I had to listen to it! 
It was phenomenal. The narrator was great. Making the story come to life was amazing! 

I can't wait for the next one 
Thank you again for this awesome book!
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I'm not usually a big reader of sci-fi/fantasy, but I took a chance. I mean -- have you seen the rave reviews? It's on all of the most anticipated lists for 2021. 

"No Gods, No Monsters" was interesting and very confusing. Sometimes creepy. Other times, a bit scary. Dion Graham, the audiobook narrator, saved this read (for me). Otherwise, I likely wouldn't have finished it. I kept going back to re-listen to sections, trying to figure out the characters, and what I was missing. For that, I rate this book 2 stars as I would not recommend it to friends.

Thanks to Blackstone Publishing for giving me access to the advance listener copy via the NetGalley app.
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It's worth saying that this isn't really genre fiction. It's literary fiction making use of sci-fantasy & horror genre elements. It's strange and meandering with a huge cast of characters and a maze of plot threads, sometimes pivoting into existential pondering about the nature of reality and choice.

It's the sort of book that the right reader might fall in love with and spend hours teasing apart threads of nuance and meaning. I can see the potential appeal because I feel that way about some books that I read.

For me, there was just too much happening for one book. A character or piece of the plot would catch my interest and then before I could blink we were on to something else. And while I get some pieces of what this book is trying to say, it's inconsistent and often unclear what the intent of a scene or plot element is. It's also the kind of thing that seems more interesting to discuss than it is pleasant to read.

For instance, the titular monsters might be people with magic or werewolves or other mythological human-like beings. And sometimes they are stand-ins/overlap with people from marginalized communities: Black, POC, queer... But there also seem to be shadowy monsters who are themselves taking advantage of and harming others. In hindsight perhaps kids like Dragon are supposed to be indicative of cycles of abuse. It's also clear there's something being said here about police violence, about how we other those we fear, about performative allyship.

All of which I care about and find conceptually interesting. In execution, it feels muddy and needlessly abstruse. I appreciate what the author is trying to do here and the dizzying world he has created, but I didn't necessarily enjoy the reading experience. Hopefully this helps the right readers find the book and gives you some idea of what you're getting. Do note that there are many content warnings including graphic violence, abuse, death, grief, drug use etc. I won't get specific, but just know it isn't a light book.

The audio narration is solid, no real complaints there. I received an audio review copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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4.5 stars. I'm thrumming with excitement. I love when I finish a book and my mind won't shut up about it; my brain keeps spinning with ideas and theories and turning over all the cutting, delicious, insightful things this had to say. This book landed at the perfect intersections for me; fantasy, folklore, mystery, queerness. It's dense, but told in the perfect way, so I never felt overwhelmed, just eager for every new reveal.

Monsters are real, and the world is about to find out just how real they are. We're following a diverse cast of characters: a woman who just lost her brother to police violence, her bookstore owning husband, a little boy who's a pawn in ways he doesn't understand, a conspiracy theorist professor, an invisible woman, and several varied shifters. They each have their part to play in the story that unfolds, as the reality of monsters is brought to light in the world. The thread that ties them all together and the way it's revealed is one of the cleverest, coolest things I've ever read; I loved it so much. I can be really picky about POV in books, and all I can say without giving away too much is that I loved the hell out of the way this was told. The story does take some time to find its legs, and the beginning chapters where the reader is in the dark were confusing in a few ways. But never in a frustrating way; I devoured this, and just wanted to know everything about this world. The writing was so sublime; raw and heavy, always packing a punch, but never overwrought or over the top. There are a few scenes and images from this book that keep coming back to me; they were so striking and vivid. In a couple scenes I felt like I was being held by the face and being made to LOOK. I loved it.

I'll probably never stop yelling about how I love seeing dialect used in books, no matter how small or casual; especially when it's a Caribbean dialect. I adored the way USVI culture and folklore played a part in this world, amongst all the other cultural influences that were evident. I especially loved it when it came to the monsters. One of my favourite folklore characters has a role here; I suspected who/what she was from the moment she appeared (so to speak) on page, and I was delighted with pretty much everything she did and said and the type of part she played. I also loved the casual diversity of this; we've got a mostly black and brown cast, and there's all the queer characters, the trans and nonbinary characters, the polyamory. This also talks about activism in a way that clearly calls to mind recent events, but in a far less clumsy way than I've seen other recent books try to do it. It felt firmly rooted in Turnbull's world, but also relatable.

Listened to the audiobook as read by Dion Graham, and really loved it. He has one of those universally changeable and (imo) universally pleasing voices. Because of the style of the POV, and all the different characters, this might have been a tricky one to narrate, but Graham handled it perfectly. There are a lot of different accents in this book, and I'm not an expert on any of them, but they sounded great to my ear, and made the experience such an immersive one. This was just such a satisfying read; giving a voice to monsters and marginalised people. It's been a while since I've been this excited to start a new fantasy series; particularly one that isn't even done yet. But this was absolutely gorgeous, really powerful, and I can't wait to see what's next for these characters and this world.

Content warnings: police violence, gore, death, child abuse, domestic violence.
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I requested this one because it might be a 2021 title I would like to review on my Youtube Channel. However, after reading the first several chapters I have determined that this book does not suit my tastes. So I decided to DNF this one rather than push myself to finish it only to give it a poor review.
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Novel in stories. Makes the plot a bit heavy, but the narration was good and easy to follow. Preferred the audiobook to the print version.
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I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

No Gods, No Monsters is a fantasy novel in which secret societies of monsters become known to humans. This book reminded me slightly of X-Men, but included more diverse characters. I really liked how inclusive this book was, incorporating different races, ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Unfortunately the story itself fell flat for me and I struggled to stay attentive.
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I have no clue what I just read. The writing was pretty, but the audiobook made it so incredibly hard to follow. I have no idea what happened in most parts of the book and it was impossible to figure out which character was who and which character was even real. I wouldn't recommend.
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No Gods, No Monsters has monsters, hate crimes, and unusual events. When a video of a police shooting gets leaked, the world gets awakened to the fact that monsters roam among them. Creatures humanity has only read about start cropping up, secret societies and organizations are formed, and violent crimes increase. But why are the monsters revealing themselves now? 

I felt lost throughout this book. With there only being one narrator I found it extremely hard to tell whose point of view was the current one so I kept getting events mixed up. I did like the book itself because it was a cool mix of fantasy and realistic fiction. There are many layers to the monster part and clearly there are underlying messages about the persecution and discrimination against them. I loved seeing a whole range of sexual orientation and gender expressions without the book centering around it. The characters weren't defined by their one characteristic but had so much going on under the surface. I think I'm going to read the physical book to help with my confusion and mix ups with the characters since I was interested in the story itself. For me, this audiobook was a 3/5. I loved the voice of the narrator but I definitely think it would have benefited from more than one.
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I have mixed feelings about this book, and I do think it will divide readers because of the particular way the story is told, almost through a stream-of-consciousness pov that isn't always so easy to follow, particularly with the audiobook version. 

The author is undeniably gifted, and the prose-like writing really stuck out to me. The diversity of the characters and their identities was so casually entwined into the story that it will appeal to all readers, while giving LGBTQ+ readers and readers of colour some much-needed representation,

That being said, after finishing the book, I can tell you more about the characters and their individual trauma than I can the overall plot, which isn't a huge problem for me personally as I very much enjoy character-driven stories. I do think I will return for a reread in the future to better grasp some plot points, but overall this was a unique story in which monsters seemed to represent minorities and the way they are treated and underrepresented. True to its title, it is a book with Anarchist ideals, featuring community organizing among monsters and their rights when their existence is revealed, and really puts forward the question of what exactly makes a monster to begin with. Definitely a worthwhile read.
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Brilliant In Many Ways

💛 This is dreamy, dark and powerful. The themes and parallels drawn in this book are masterfully crafted, the use of monsters and gods as metaphors for the very real evils of our world - prejudice, injustice, double standards -  is brilliant and the prose is mermesiring. 

💚 It takes time to get to the meat of the story. I would say 20-30% of the listening time is devoted to exposition which could have been peppered throughout the rest of the book. The cast of characters is myriad as are the storylines. Whilst this is impressive, it also makes it tricky to connect with individual ones and to follow the narrative.
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SOUNDBITE

🎧 Dion Graham delivers a performance that can only be described as spellbinding.His deep, sonorous voice is perfect for the role of the omniscient narrator, bringing with it gravitas with an ethereal quality.

🎧 Listening to Graham is incentive enough to recommend this audiobook, but this is not an easy listen. I had to concentrate quite intensely to follow the plot, meaning this isn’t one that can be on while driving or browsing the internet.  
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SHALL I COMPARE THEE TO...

Much as Animal Farm has little to do with livestock, so this uses fantasy elements as allegories for complex political and philosophical concepts. The writing style reminded me of  Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel.
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Big thanks to NetGalley,  Cadwell Turnbull and Blackstone Publishing for providing me with an ALC in return for an honest review.
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Here's the thing. Is this book what I thought it would be? Definitely not. I'm not even sure  what I read.

BUT the writing is absolutely gorgeous and as a bookseller I have no doubt that many readers will absolutely love this book and that it deserves to be featured .
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i really enjoyed the beginning and the set up for the plot i found so compelling. however, with the introduction of more story lines and characters i started to go in between being really into it and being lost. personally, i am not much of fantasy fans so in some aspects i found it hard to get my head around the more fantastical element.

however, i have to say that the prose was really well done and there a some really thought provoking quotes that i can still remember off the top of my head. to me, the conversations brought up with this book are very valuable and handled in a digestible way. working the balance between making the message clear without being too blatant about it. 

i can see myself recommending this to fantasy fans especially, with the weight it carries from the discussions about race, police brutality and identity. 

as an audio book (which is how i read it), i think that a range of voice actors for the different story lines would have been much more effective. it would have allowed differentiation between to be easier and bring some of the characters to life.
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I tried to like this one and I was really excited for it but it was all over the place and I couldn’t believe I was over 2 hours in and nothing had really happened. DNF at 21%
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