“Monster Hunter Guardian” by Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt, Baen Books, 2019, 352 pages, $25

Some science fiction authors encourage other authors to write in their universes. Some don’t. Larry Correia falls in the middle. When John Ringo wrote three books set in Correia’s Monster Hunter universe, Correia reviewed, approved and edited the books.

“Monster Hunter Guardian” by Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt, is the first book-length collaboration in the Monster Hunter series planned by Correia. The novel follows Julie Shackleford-Pitt as she tries to recover her kidnapped son.

Correia’s Monster Hunter universe posits a world where legendary monsters, vampires, werewolves, even orcs and gnomes, secretly exist. To control their mayhem, governments around the world contract with monster hunters to equally secretly remove these pests. Monster Hunter International, started by Julie’s great-grandfather, is the gold standard of monster hunting organizations.

“Monster Hunter Guardian” occurs concurrently with “Monster Hunter Siege.” Julie is one of the hunters left to tend the store, while most of the world’s monster hunters are tied up at Severny Island trying to control a monster outbreak that previously took the Tsar Bomba to contain.

Julie skipped the mission. MHI needed a senior member to mind affairs (other monsters remain active). She needed to mind her infant son, Ray. Yet despite her care (and the resources of MHI headquarters), Ray gets kidnapped from the MHI compound.

The kidnapper is an ancient and almost invulnerable evil known as Brother Death. His price for Ray’s return is the Kamaresh Yar, an immensely powerful artifact for which Julie is guardian. If she gives it to Brother Death, the world could be destroyed.

When Julie surrenders the artifact for her son, Brother Death cheats her, taking the artifact, but keeping her son.

It’s game on at that point. Julie will do literally anything necessary to keep her child safe, including sacrificing pieces of her soul. The book follows Julie as she battles cultists, necrophilic and pedophilic monsters, and Brother Death to recover her child.

“Monster Hunter Guardian” is more Hoyt than Correia, appropriately so, written from Julie’s perspective. Yet it’s as exciting, amusing, and entertaining as any solo Correia novel in the Monster Hunter universe.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is marklardas.com.

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