He Said – She Said
Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Casper Davies has just sent his daughter Ellie off to summer camp for a couple of weeks, when his ex, Arcady Abascal, shows up to ask him a favor. This is doubly awkward for Casper, known as Cash, since Arcady dumped him years ago to marry a woman, and his daughter’s mother is Aracady’s sister Ilyana.
To add to the complexities, Cash is half human and half monster, born on the wrong side of the tracks in Roanoke, while Arcady is of the purest, aristocratic monster bloodline, and his family is both rich and powerful within the hidden monster world.
Thus begins this clever and sinister story, involving a wedding, a divorce, and a murderous mole who’s leaking information about the occult world of monsters to the sin-hunting Vatican priesthood. Cash, who lives an outwardly human life as a professional videographer for reality TV, resists getting drawn back into the gloomy glitter of the Abascals’ blood-stained social world. But Arcady is hard to resist, and Cash is the first to admit that an upgrade in his social standing would help his daughter’s future.
Moore’s writing is discreetly vivid, constantly reminding the reader that this is not a pretty, well-mannered world we’re in: for all the luxury, it is tainted with sweat, blood, and murder, since, well, these are monsters, after all. There are other writers in this subgenre who offer the reader worlds in which paranormal creatures live among humanity, but few of them take the care to remind us why being afraid of monsters has a long history in human culture. For all its wry humor, this is a story about dark things in dark places—with no apology.
The set-up calls to mind Moore’s long story “Elf Shot” from the anthology “Bad, Dad and Dangerous,” in which non-human dads send their teenagers off to summer camp for some alone time. Here, however, it is monster camp to which Cash sends Ellie, hoping to help prepare her for the non-human side of her life. The very idea of a summer camp with black busses that boasts of having a ‘body farm’ for the kids this year is creepy indeed. Cash, who values his humanity, also understands that his daughter is an heiress in the monster world, and that both gives her advantages and puts her in mortal peril. He wants her to thrive, but also to survive the political machinations of her Machiavellian grandmother, Belladona Abascal. (Come to think of it, her grandmother probably knew Machiavelli.)
Reading this book took me back to my childhood in the 1960s, when I was an avid fan of two absurd sitcoms focused on monstrous families living in suburbia—the Addams Family, and its direct rip-off, The Munsters. What was it about these families that gave them such huge appeal to American audiences? The superficial joke was that these clearly monstrous people in their sinister mansions were trying, more or less, to fit into to ordinary society. Only sly little hints were ever given that possibly, when we weren’t looking, something truly awful might be going on in the parts of those houses we didn’t see. The Addams family movies of more recent years, their world based on Charles Addams’s menacing cartoons from the New Yorker magazine, explored some of that—but never too deeply. In order to love the Addamses and the Munsters, we had to believe that they would never really do anything bad.
T.A. Moore, however, doesn’t let us blink, or to forget that these monsters eat people for nourishment and sport. It’s who they are, and staying hidden is a strategy to allow them to live their lives unmolested by the forces of human morality and law.
I don’t know about you, but for me this book falls into the category of novels that make romantic heroes out of assassins and other nefarious folks. I can’t really embrace them the way I like to when I read a novel, because I can never let go of the fact that they embody my darkest fears. Even Cash, sweet, good-dad, loyal Cash, knows that, now and then, he’ll have to eat a human.
Reviewed by Melissa Brus
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
All the Ghoulies and Ghosties and long leggity beasties are present and accounted for in this new book from TA Moore. Not only are all the monsters – and half monsters – out, but they are gathered to celebrate a wedding, if they don’t all kill each other first. In the middle of all the drama over who is gonna eat who first, Cash and his ex, Arkady, find themselves reigniting some old flames. The relationships between the monsters are so complex and interwoven. Into this backdrop, Moore weaves in some political intrigue and mystery very deftly into the creepy wedding festivities. This is a dark and sometimes gory tale with a romance and a sweet father/daughter relationship in the middle. Because TA Moore somehow can do both of these at the same time. Fans of horror movies will embrace this book with both arms. Fans of a well written story will love it as well. I am not a fan of horror but the nuances and relationships of this story kept me intrigued throughout. Overall a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.