Premise: Monsters are real and there are competing organizations, including the government, out there fighting them in secret. Owen Z. Pitt is an accountant who is attacked by his werewolf boss one day and discovers he has a penchant for killing creatures, which leads him to be recruited by the private organization: Monster Hunter International. His size (he’s a big guy), upbringing with firearms (dad trained him from childhood with guns), and cage fighting past (he was also a bouncer) doesn’t hurt. This book contains just about every monster you can think of: vampires, werewolves, zombies, wights, ghouls, and even the mythical Wendigo.
The Monster Control Bureau is the secret government organization in charge of monster eradication. While not the primary antagonists in this story, they aren’t exactly shown in a pleasant light. They are what you might think of when you hear talk of “the Feds” with coverups and secret missions. They are a fine counterpoint to MHI and lead to some additional conflict throughout the story, even when the two organizations are forced to work together to fight the evil Cursed One, bent on not only ruling the world but destroying it.
Themes: One of the main plot threads through the story is love. Owen finds in Julie his soul mate: a beautiful woman who is still somewhat of an outcast because of her profession and her love of guns. Owen is immediately enamored with her for all of these things, even to the point of putting himself in harm’s way to protect her. The story behind how the Cursed One came to be gives us an insight into his motivation, with love at the center yet somehow still not truly being a motivating factor. For the Cursed One, love is simply another tool to be used to gain power. Love is a strong enough motivator for many of the characters to be willing to do anything to protect it.
Faith is prevalent throughout Monster Hunter International. Owen isn’t necessarily a religious person, but there are characters, like Trip and Milo, who are. At one point this theme is quite obvious, with Milo using his faith to fight a vampire directly. At other points the theme of faith is more subtle, with Owen’s team putting their faith in him to figure out how to save them even when he doesn’t know how to do so.
One more theme is the idea of finding your calling. Owen is an accountant, and has also been a bouncer, a cage fighter, and a competitive shooter, but he finds these things all leading him to his true calling of being a Monster Hunter. He also discovers his calling through the prophecy behind the Cursed One which leads to the final battle to save the world.
Pros: Monster Hunter International is a story for gun geeks and classic monster stories. If reading accurate descriptions of just about every firearm and weapon you can think of is your thing, then this book is for you. MHI abounds in splattering monsters from volleys of bullets. Again, if that is your thing, this is your book. Not only does the author prove he has done his research and knows his stuff, he also gives the reader some good characters and intense story pacing. This is a fun read with 700 pages that go by quickly, almost too quickly.
Cons: If your idea of vampires is sparkling and wooing teenagers then you will probably want to pass. If you aren’t into the gun porn, this isn’t your book either. If I had to have a complaint with this book it would be that I could see how the gun descriptions could grow tiresome to some readers after a while. I will say that Correia did back off the gun descriptions as the story progressed, but there were perhaps still too many for those sensitive to violence and guns. I also found some typos but those can be found in just about any book, even with the most diligent of editors.
Recommendations: If you want a fun, shoot ‘em up monster story with a new flavor, look no further. Correia’s Monster Hunter International delivers, and not just with the premise. He proves in this book that he’s a good storyteller and writer.