The Monsters We Feed (A Luminaworld Story), by Thomas Howard Riley
The morning before he found the dead body, Jathan Algevin thought he had his whole life just the way he wanted it.
He knows his city inside and out, and doesn’t bother carrying a sword, trusting his wits and his fists well enough to get by, hustling extra coin by ratting out loathsome magi to the law for execution.
He and his sister, Lyra, have watched out for each other ever since the day they were orphaned by a bloodthirsty rogue sorcerer, and now they finally have steady work, good friends, and the freedom to spend every night laughing at the bottom of a bottle.
But nothing lasts forever.
When he stumbles across a brutal murder, Jathan discovers a strange crystal lens that opens his eyes to an invisible world of magick and terror lurking just beneath the surface of his own, making him question everything he thought he knew.
But will gazing into this new arcane realm lead Jathan to save lives, or help destroy them?
With dangerous people hunting for the lens, monstrous lies unraveling his life, and a hidden underworld calling to him, it is only a matter of time before his whole world comes crashing down.
Will he find the answers he is looking for, or will he only find a monster needing to be fed?
Rated-R Dark Fantasy Noir in a city of hope, lust, and brutality, where swords are banned, and magick is just as likely to get you killed as it is to save your life.
My Review (4.5 out of 5 )
The Monsters We Feed is a standalone novel situated in Luminaworld, and an excellent entry point to the saga if you are intimidated by the book We Break Immortals is. Situated in the city of Kolchin, we are going to be following the adventures of an MC we wish we could help, surrounded by a neo-noir atmosphere that the author has really nailed.
Our secrets and lies are the monsters we feed.
Jatan Algevin is an angry young man, who has grown up hating all the magick users, believing they are not more than abominations and that their class should be eradicated from the world. He's also a closed-minded person, especially against anything that can suppose change to the city he believes he knows as the palm of his hand. All of this changes the morning he finds a dead Glasseye and gets monocle, opening a whole new way to look at the world.
He soon becomes obsessed with it, as it is useful to find those pesky magick users he hates so much. But this new way to see the world, also opens to him a totally different city from the one he knew, making him enter into contact with other groups he would never think about; his obsession makes the world he knows to go upside-down. It is a really well-fleshed character, a person whose convictions suddenly disappear after a traumatic fact. The contact with other groups and people that he would never work with also helps expand his own vision of how the city should be and makes him improve as a person.
Lyra, his sister, is a totally different character, and plays an important role in the change Jatan experiments during the novel. Both suffered the death of their parents, but the personalities that appeared after it are the opposite. Lyra has a secret that will be a key piece in the plot. Outside of the two brothers, I would like to also mention the portrait that Howard-Riley makes of the scumborns of Tennement Lane, constantly having to hide from the rest of society, trying to protect their children.
And let's talk about what for me is the strongest aspect of the novel, which is the worldbuilding and the atmosphere the author has created. It is difficult to explain with words, but the city feels alive, with its own labyrinths, and its people; part of this is due to how the language in this novel has its own terms, calling the different classes, showing also the division of the society between those who have magick and those who not. There are many small details grouped together that help us to form a full picture of how this place is.
The magick system is also well explained, with many details and situations that help show how it works, being mainly based on moving objects through the use of energy, letting a residue that cannot be seen by the naked eye. A system with limitations, that taxes the user draining its energy, well balanced in my opinion.
This novel is an excellent example of how to write a dark story that keeps you hooked until the last page, and how to make you cheer for a character who can be found despicable at first sight. A great standalone, and one more reason to continue reading more stories in Luminaworld.
Thomas Howard Riley
Thomas Howard Riley currently resides in the wasteland metropolis, where he reads ancient books, plays ancient games, watches ancient movies, jams on ancient guitars, and writes furiously day and night. He sometimes appears on clear nights when the moon is gibbous, and he has often been seen in the presence of cats.
He always wanted to make up his own worlds, tell his own stories, write his own history, create his own people, honor the truths of life, and explore both the light and the darkness of human nature. With a few swords thrown in for good measure.
And some magick. Awesome magick.