If you don’t know Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series, this would be a place to start. It’s a world where the forces of darkness are driven back by men and women with nerves of steel, bullets of lead, silver, and phosphorous, and they get paid for it.
Monster Hunter Files is an anthology written (mostly) by the best fantasy authors in the business.
“Thistle” by Larry Correia
Owen and his team take on a new kind of monster in Arizona — It starts as your average, straightforward, monster-killing story. Then Larry does a twist at the end of this one that makes Rod Serling proud. I didn’t see it coming, but I should have. 5/5
“Small Problems” by Jim Butcher
MHI’s new janitor has to deal with some small problems — It’s Jim Butcher. Do I have to say this one was awesome? It’s like he hasn’t recovered from all of his Roman legion research from Codex Alera … while watching The Secret of NIMH. 6/5
“Darkness Under The Mountain” by Mike Kupari
Cooper takes a freelance job in Afghanistan– The Chinese have dug too greedily and too deep… and that’s a line in the story. It’s almost a Monster Hunter procedural novel, with a soupcon of MCB BS. 4/5
“A Knight Of The Enchanted Forest” by Jessica Day George
(Trailer park elves versus gnomes TURF WAR!)– A straight up comedy from the first page, with the redneck elves, meets hippies. 4/5
“The Manticore Sanction” by John C. Wright
(Cold War era British espionage with monsters) — This one was dark. Very British. Also very Universal monster movie… the black and white version, not the new crap with Tom Cruise. This one was … surprisingly powerful. It left a mark. 6/5.
“The Dead Yard” by Maurice Broaddus
Trip goes to Jamaica on some family business— It was okay. It needed more meat to it. It was awkwardly paced, and over suddenly. I think it needed more room to work. 3/5
“The Bride” by Brad R. Torgersen
Franks wasn’t the only thing Benjamin Franklin cut deals with– BWAHAHAHAHAHAAH. This one was awesome. Brad writes Ben Franklin perfectly. I can hear the actor from 1776 when I read the story. Also, Franklin’s a badass. Though this one pissed me off … I wanted it to run another ten pages. Dear Larry: Can Brad write the novel on the Revolutionary War history of monster hunting? Please? 5/5
“She Bitch, Killer of Kits” (a Skinwalker Crossover Tale) by Faith Hunter
Jane Yellowrock teams up with MHI — This was okay. I honestly think that the author is more interesting than the story she wrote. Which is odd, because the inverse is usually the case. It just didn’t grab me. 3/5.
“Mr. Natural” by Jody Lynn Nye
an STFU mission in the 70s has to deal with plant monsters and hippies! — Hilarious. Fun as heck. I deduct half a point for the bunny ex machina ending…. you’ll see. 4.5/5
“Sons Of The Father” by Quincy J. Allen
Two young brothers discover monsters are real, and kill a mess of them — Quincy is apparently a newb author, but I couldn’t tell from the story. It was very Supernatural, if they focused more on being badass than angst. 4/5
“The Troll Factory” by Alex Shvartsman
Heather gets some help from MHI for an STFU mission into Russia — Yeah, this was fun. A post-Siege story. It has a nice setup of a newbie hunter, and it has an awesome, awesome punchline. 5/5
“Keep Kaiju Weird” by Kim May
A Kitsune may have already earned her PUFF exemption, but she’s not going to let some monster squish Portland — I really enjoyed this one. I was having flashbacks to the better episodes of Grimm, though. Heh. 5/5
“The Gift” by Steve Diamond
Two of the Vatican’s Hunters from the Blessed Order of Saint Hubert the Protector on a mission in Mexico — I wanted to like this one more. It felt like someone condensed a novel with a lot of backgroundinformation left out. Perhaps this would work betters as the first five chapters of a full novel. 4/5 stars… maybe 3.
“The Case of the Ghastly Specter” by John Ringo
while studying at Oxford, Chad takes a case — Was Ringo watching old Sherlock Holmes movies? There were moments when Chad sounds like Basil Rathbone. I might like this one better in the full novel of Sinners, as downtime in an action packed novel. But here, in this anthology, it just feels like the slow bit. The difference is jarring. It’s still good, so I mark it a 4/5
“Huffman Strikes Back” by Bryan Thomas Schmidt & Julie Frost
Owen’s vacation gets interrupted for some monster revenge– This was part comedy, park action scene. Either way, it was awesome. 5/5
“Hitler’s Dog” by Jonathan Maberry
(It is WW2 and Agent Franks really hates Nazis)– Do I even have to make comments? It’s Franks versus Nazis. But I think it needed a little more fleshing out. 4/5
Julie didn’t get to go to her prom because of monster problems — This is narrated by a 16-year-old Jule Shackleford …. who sounds more like she’s 12 here. Maybe younger. Mercifully, this one is short, but poorly written. You can say “It’s narrated by a teenager” all you like, but so was Knight of the Enchanted Forest. Things that should be funny, aren’t. (Julie writes a summer vacation essay about killing vampires … how was this not funny?). The best lines in this story were, I’m certain, cribbed from novels by Larry. Poorly written. Amateurish narration. Heck, this has substandard prose compared to other short stories BY THE SAME AUTHOR. (Compare this to any of her Chicks in Chainmail shorts.) It’s even poorly placed in the anthology, coming near the end of the book, but it opens with exposition about MHI… in a book fully dedicated to MHI. It was so bare-bones basic, I saw what was coming a mile away. It is the Scalzi of this collection. 2/5