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Small Town Monsters Paperback – March 11, 2013
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
Craig Nybo is the Norman Rockwell of gory monster adventure fiction.
I've read two of Craig's novels (his earlier foray into similar space -- "just your average zombies versus the KKK story," as he likes to say -- was Allied Zombies for Peace, a breakneck 42-minute romp through a small town holiday parade that goes to hell with the throwing of an anarchist's bomb and ends up with divisions of WWI vets, WWII vets, Vietnam vets, zombies, and the Ku Klux Klan going to the mat in real time), and here's what I think the Craig Nybo, Novelist, brand is:
Nybo likes small American towns and small-town institutions (diners, parades, sheriffs, local papers), almost to the point of being cliched. I don't view that pressing against the boundary of the hackneyed as being a bad thing, actually -- I think Nybo knows what he finds evocative and powerful and he goes for its heart, willingly taking the risk that a reader might say "aw, I've seen this before."
Except that the reader hasn't seen this before, unless he's been watching a lot of B monster movies and re-imagining them into the settings ofGoonies or Doc Hollywood. Nybo's newer novel (I think a third may be imminent, and the teaser at the back of Small Town Monsters suggests that Nybo's continued to put down roots in his brand) is set in rural Montana, and follows an ensemble cast (though principally the Chief of Police, relocated from California and constantly butting up against small town secrets and prejudices, and a young woman with a brutal father and a need to get out of town) through their scrambling reactions as the town experiences the return of an old nightmare it had thought dead and buried: werewolf killings.
It would be easy to turn his small town settings and characters either into cynical critiques of America or shiny two-dimensional posters inviting you to go fishing in the Big Sky Country, and it is to Nybo's great credit that he does neither. Like David Byrne at his best, Nybo seems to contemplate America with pleasure and, at the same time, an awareness of imperfections. That combination of affection and realism keep the stories gripping and fresh and prevents them from feeling like some kind of moralistic attack on the American small town.
I can't wait for the next one.
From the Author
When I wrote Small Town Monsters, I wanted to get back to the basics of gothic horror. Shortly before writing this novel, I found myself revisiting classic horror stories such as Mary Shelly's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. In Bram Stoker's work in particular, I found a visceral terror that I haven't seen emulated in recent fiction. It seems that readers are are drawn to the humanity of monsters. We want to see them act like people.We want to live next door to them. We want to have love affairs with them.
Not so with the werewolves of Montana found in my novel, Small Town Monsters.These werewolves--monsters in the dark--behave more like forces of nature,enormous, hungry, visceral. It takes an intrepid monster hunter to go out into the night when such a monster calls. If you are after werewolves with class and poise, monsters who might have a softer, more human side, go somewhere else. InSmall Town Monsters, its all about fear and intensity. If you enjoy scary books as much as I do, welcome to the small town of DePalma Beach the setting of my story. Here, there be monsters. Happy reading and even happier dreams.
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What I’d really like to write about though, is the writing—the crafting of this work. It’s wonderful to find a book that has both fast, fun, successful content while still achieving mastery in form. Nybo’s characters are not merely life-like, they’re consuming. Hemingway writes, "When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature." Nybo has in fact created living people. As one who has lived her whole life in a small town, I can also say that this book captures the essence of such an environment perfectly. The language is smooth and it is clear that Nybo, as an author, has complete command over it. In addition, he knows just which strings to pull at precisely which times and just where to lay the necessary complications. Everything about this work displays mastery.
Small Town Monsters was refreshing, to say the least. I am more than thrilled to have had the opportunity to read it. I look forward to seeing Nybo soar.
Nybo constructs a story about a small, midwestern town with a dark past - and some dark secrets of the present. It's a place where everybody knows everybody, and everybody knows everyone else's business, which is both a good thing and bad thing. He deals with a large cast of characters, setting up for a climax that puts a serious dent in the town's population. I enjoyed how he managed to weave together all these characters and seeing them all react to a major crisis.
And of course, the best part is the crisis itself - where Nybo tells his own werewolf story. I can't claim to be any kind of connoisseur of werewolf stories, but of the movies I've seen and stories I've read, this one is probably the most intense. Ferocious doesn't begin to cover it.
Unfortunately, while there's a lot to praise, there's a lot to complain about too. The book probably could have used at least one more good editing pass. There were several glitches in the writing - missing words, punctuation, etc. It wasn't overwhelming, but it occurred frequently enough to draw attention to itself. In a few chapters there is a bit of "head jumping" between viewpoints that occurs from paragraph to paragraph. While not a major crime, it was a little distracting because it was inconsistent with the rest of the book. There were also some content inconsistencies and point of confusion that never quite got resolved.
These are flaws that probably knock a star off the rating overall, but I still found the book very fun, exciting, and scary. You never really know who is going to live or die, and the peril keeps escalating. Fun stuff. If you want a story about monsters that really feel monstrous, this is worth a read!
While I love the main character, it’s the gore factor that makes this book so memorable for me. While the death scenes are fun (in that lovely squicky way), the way they were described blew me away. The scenes painted in this book are graphic and fresh, capturing your interest and making you just a bit sick!
Now there are problems, which does knock this down from being a full five stars. Being self-published, this novel does have a few warts. Words are missing, there are grammar mistakes here and there, etc. It wasn’t enough to make me want to put the book down, but it will pull you out of the story from time to time.
Overall, this is a book worth your time if you love werewolves and want a spooky read. Also, as someone who purchased the paperback version, I can stay that is well put together and a good fit in my hands. (And it will look nice on your shelf to boot!)
Craig takes what Jean passed in genes and runs amok with it. Small Town Monsters introduces you to characters who seem real enough to give a crap what happens to them. Which is important because well, it's a monster story, so you know something's going to happen to them.
It's a few days in the lives of people and animals who aren't long for this land, and the people left to pick up the pieces of their lives and loved ones.
What more can you ask from that cover, and that title!
There is some mild swearing, and bloody horror, so if you expected something different, well... yes, please judge this book by it's cover. :~)
I'm left really looking forward to reading Allied Zombies or Peace.