Love in a Time of Monsters by Teresa Yea is an inventive and original tale that blends in different genres and characters from history and other novels seamlessly into their own place and persona in what is one of the more enjoyable reads I have had this year.
“…We’re living in a time of monsters.’ Alec picked up the rifle and shoved it into Rob’s unwilling hands. ‘Take care of yourself. I won’t always be there to protect you.’
‘A time of monsters is actually a falsity,’ Rob hitched the gun over his shoulder. ‘a bastardization of Mornay’s lecture at the Society of Unnatural Creatures.’ He recited the transcript by heart. ‘Monsters have lived in the shadow of man since the dawn of creation. Now their numbers are multiplying. The height of our empire is also the golden age of monsters…”
It is Scotland, 1867. Rob Stevenson is he younger brother of the Laird of the estate and as such has had little expected of him in the way of family duties. He is freshly back from college where his timid and weak nature led him to be tormented and bullied by the larger boys. He is home now, preparing to leave on an expedition to study in the wilds of other countries. But when his older brother Alec is brutally killed, beheaded and the remaining corpse eaten away at, Rob must assume the mantle of Laird of the estate. His first charge is to hire a professional monster hunter.
Catriona Mornay is the sole survivor of a tragic expedition into the Congo. It is rumored that she has gone mad during her time in the jungle. Now on the dimly lighted streets of England, her skill as a hunter is unrivaled and her reputation as a killer of creatures legendary. But the legend of Cat Mornay and the reality of the person are two separate things. The real Cat is bitter, angry and drug addicted and on the run from her employer who wants her dead.
Rob, against his better judgement decides to hire Cat and their two worlds collide. Rob’s sheltered and timid life is no match for the danger and excitement that comes with Cat Mornay and if he wants to save his family he has to act quickly and with a fortitude he never knew he had. Because their are monsters in his world. Both human and otherwise and to defeat them Cat will need all the help she can find.
Fantasy? Steampunk? Romance? Horror? Historical Thriller?
Yea blends all of these genres as characters from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Treasure Island and other novels by Robert Louis Stevenson are re-imagined here in this tale of monsters and death. Because that is who Rob is. The author Robert Louis Stevenson.
Yea has created a world where the characters of these novels exist and introduced monsters. Ghosts and Harpies and others. Hunted by Cat Mornay for her employer Mr. Hyde to use their various body parts for potions and elixirs. Drugs that he sells illegally to the populace of England. Highly addictive drugs.
There is also a horrible monster here. A creature stolen from the Congo and brought to England. A legendary creature who rips men asunder and feeds. A creature that has taken root in the forest outside of Rob’s home. A creature who will soon make the manor its own.
Love in the Time of Monsters is one of those novels I picked up and then set aside long ago, never opening up to read. I forgot about it until passing through my TBR list I saw it there. I had no idea how good this book was until I was almost done with it. I tore through it in one sitting and in fact finished it weeks before this review was written because I simply could not find the right words to express how much I truly liked it. I still don’t.
It’s unique. It’s original. It’s fun. It’s just a damn good read.
The characters, and there are many more than what I have mentioned here, are so well rounded and flushed. Yea was not content to simply transplant characters already written and use them in a new setting. She changed them to fit into the novel while maintaining the integrity of the source character. Later in the novel when Stevenson actually begins to write his poetry and stories, he is actually using the characters from this tale to use in his novels. Yea has actually created a scenario where her character is the source material for the legendary characters that are in Stevenson’s novels! Yes, she pulls it off wonderfully.
Love in a Time of Monsters is book #1 of the Golden Age of Monsters but understand it is its own book. A stand alone with a beginning, middle and very satisfying ending. Book #2 has alot to live up to here. This is probably one you missed, that’s okay, there is time to fix that. Find it. Read it and enjoy.
A terrific read!