Monster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia
Read by Oliver Wyman
Quick Thoughts: Although different is tone and scope, Correia has created another winning entry in Monster Hunter series, which while not immersed in the typical trappings of the series, adds much to its overall mythos.
Vampires and Zombies may be the current rulers of the paranormal roost, but a new contender has entered the fray, the mighty werewolf. Well, not exactly new, werewolf mythology has spanned centuries, yet recently has been overshadowed by the Vampire and Zombies as central characters in novels, often regulated to supporting characters. Yet, there is a sort of special place for the werewolf, who unlike Vampires and other paranormal creatures, split time between their human and wolf nature. Recently, Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf has received a lot of acclaim, praised for its vivid prose, and gruesome portrayal of the life of earth’s possible last werewolf. Larry Correia’s latest entry of his monster hunter series, Monster Hunter Alpha, takes a break from his normal lead, Owen Pitt, and its normal huge cast of characters, to focus on Earl Harbinger, leader of Monster Hunter International, and secretly a werewolf. When Harbinger receives word that former KGB assassin, and fellow werewolf has been seen on American soil effectively breaking their truce, he heads out to find him. Arriving in rural Michigan, to a small mining town called Copper Lake, strange things begin to happen that seem to break all the laws that has governed his werewolf nature.
In many ways, Monster Hunter Alpha is the antitheses to The Last Werewolf. It is a straight-forward third person tale full of action and dark humor. Correia explores not just the strange happenings in Copper Lake, but fills in Harbinger’s back-story, working for a secret government agency that used magical creatures as weapons in various wars, earning the creatures exemption from the hard line policies that the government has towards unearthly “so called” Monsters. Correia has fun with the werewolf mythology, which seems hard and fast at the beginning of the tale, but becomes more malleable as the tale progresses. As usual, government bureaucracy takes the brunt of his Correia’s biting humor, represented by corrupt and cowardly Agent Stark of the Monster Control Bureau as well as the upstart and inept rival Hunter outfit. Yet, where this novel truly excels is its relentless pacing. The action comes fast and often, as Harbinger and the locals of Copper Lake deal with one seemingly impossible situation after another. The progression of action, from a single unstoppable werewolf, to an organized pack, to a nearly zombie like swarm keeps the listener constantly on edge. Correia has also created some intriguing new characters, a few of which are assuredly destined to become fan favorites in later novels of the series. Although different is tone and scope, Correia has created another winning entry in Monster Hunter series, which while not immersed in the typical trappings of the series, adds much to its overall mythos.
Oliver Wyman again handles the narration of this series. I have listened to a lot of Wyman’s performances, and he is always entertaining. You would think that listening to a narrator often, you would become familiar with his range of voices, and while Wyman uses many of his standard character voices, he also pulls out some surprises. His voicing of Nicolai, the seemingly schizophrenic Soviet Werewolf is as amusing as it is brilliant, and worth the price of the listen. Instead of a stereotypical Ruski accent, he paces his voice with an almost Christopher Walkenesque cadence, countering it with a brusque gravely alter ego. Wyman does well to match Correia’s, at times, frantic pacing, without ever losing his audience. While Monster Hunter Alpha wasn’t my favorite Monster Hunter novel, it brings some freshness to the series, as well as to the overall werewolf genre.