Book Review – Monstrous Creatures by Patricia Correll

There’s kind of this notion in society that things and people are either all bad or all good. It’s a simplistic view of the world that ignores the nuance of reality. Even in the cases where the villain is working ostensibly for good causes, we tend to sweep their vile crimes under the rug and pretend they were good all along. Never mind the trail of corpses that got us to this point, they get brushed aside as the redemption arc takes hold. Vampires get this weird kind of treatment all the time. Even going all the way back to Stoker’s Dracula, we’re expected to ignore the beast in favor of the dude who just wants his lost love back. Never mind the blood. Never mind the broken people he’s left in his wake. Never mind the endless murders. It’s all good: He just misses his wife. There’s never an acknowledgment of the crimes. Like, at least give us a “Hey, I know I’ve been a total dickwad” moment.

The thing is, ignoring the bad in favor the redemption arc cheapens the character. Sure, sure, the notion of being really sorry for your crimes and promising to be a good dude in the future is supposed to wash away the sins but, again, reality doesn’t quite work that way.

So, along comes Patricia Correll and Monstrous Creatures and finally gives us a protagonist of sorts that fully acknowledges his life of misdeeds and aims to make things right by doing more than donating a small sum of cash to the local homeless shelter. It also shows us a more nuanced view of a character by showing us how others react to the character. Sure, you’ve got a guy who’s been feeding on the blood of the living for centuries, but he’s also a great guy to work for. So, while I’m sure his victims would feel differently, his staff genuinely thinks he’s a good guy. And rightfully so. In a time when being employed was just slavery with a couple pennies at the end of the day, he treats his employees well and pays them fairly. Also, he’s a hell of a lot better than working for other vampires who just forgo the pennies at the end of the day and go full-on into slavery. Perhaps treating his employees with dignity and respect was just his redemption arc. Or perhaps it’s a little jab at present-day employers who tend to see employees as replaceable cogs.

Either way, that’s not the end of it. Without giving away the soul of the story, the redemption arc in Monstrous Creatures doesn’t pull any punches and fully acknowledges the vamp’s former misdeeds.

I enjoyed the hell out of this story. It’s short but to the point and the shortness doesn’t mean Monstrous Creatures doesn’t wrangle with some hefty topics.

For hundreds of years, reclusive nobleman Janusz has lived with a terrible secret. Now he’s ready to end his long life, and possibly redeem his soul–but he’ll need help.

Sarah has been apprenticed to a hunter of monsters for most of her life. When her teacher’s oldest enemy approaches them with a proposition, they both need to decide if they can risk trusting him.

Good-natured Peter has served as Janusz’ secretary for years. He has no idea what his gentle, quiet employer really is. But he’s about to find out.

Monstrous Creatures is a story of regret, redemption, and the things that haunt the dark.

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