REVIEW: First Destroy All Giant Monsters by D. L. Carter
Dear Ms. Carter,
I found myself quite curious to see you also wrote contemporary paranormal romance as I was perusing your backlist, so decided to avail myself of Amazon’s finest – and I wasn’t disappointed. First, Destroy All Giant Monsters is the first in the World Wide Witches Association series (at least, I HOPE it’s a series). It chronicles the life and times of Amber Kemp, a young-ish witch who turned her back on the craft at the behest of her father and buried herself rather unsuccessfully in the regular world. It’s a classic case of science versus mysticism, which is a touch ironic, given that Amber’s aunt, Lucinda, was the founder of a movement to structure witchcraft with science.
Thanks to a confluence of seemingly unrelated events, Amber finds herself back at the old homestead, the one her family is bound by covenant to guard, beginning the search for her now-missing Aunt Lucinda and Uncle Robyn. That mystery very quickly gets away from her when she encounters something much darker and much more evil just a few towns away while investigating her Aunt’s disappearance. The presence of a book – one by the same title as this – is one of her few clues. What she finds infects not only her, but threatens the entire world as she knows it with a web of darkness that seems to drain the life out of all it touches – and she’s next.
Amber’s search brings her into contact with quirky, somewhat lovable bookstore owner, Karl. Karl seems to be a mass of contradictions – every time someone mentions magic, he starts to lose his mind with anger. Yet he finds himself attracted to a known witch and magic user. Together, they start searching for whatever is draining their lives away – and more importantly, why they’re being targeted.
A support cast of rather…interesting folks help liven things up a bit while descriptions of the magic workings have a very real feeling of authenticity. I’m not a practitioner, nor do I hold any great knowledge about the workings / theories of magic, but what was presented was done so in a very accessible manner so it seemed to feel right, for lack of a better phrase. The explanations were understandable and made perfect sense. One thing that caught my attention, and held it, was the feeling of community that wove itself throughout the novel. Different people kept showing up, and throughout both the good and the bad, they were there.
Amber is a rather strong protagonist, both in her magical power and in her dealings with everyday life. She’s not a shrinking violet, but neither is she a woman who is an intimidating persona. She comes across as an average, “everywoman” who just so happens to have a little something extra (no, not THAT! Though, one gets the distinct impression she wouldn’t mind borrowing Karl’s for a little while), and the same types of familial issues that everyone else does. It’s nice to see a non-perfect heroine for once, one who makes mistakes and drags her feet a little about owning up to them. Who isn’t petulant once in a while when someone calls them out?
It did feel, at times, like things were dragging on just a little too long and a little too much. I understand where some of Karl’s issues were coming from, but if he was a jerk to her one more time, I felt like I was going to reach through the pages and beat him soundly about the head and shoulders with his own idiocy. He was, at points, an unmitigated jackass to the woman who was only trying to help him, and it went a little far. That didn’t just happen once or twice, either, but it was a recurring theme throughout the first half of the book or so. And then there’s the mystery of Lucinda and Robyn – that doesn’t get solved. While the story of what was going on with Karl did get resolved and wrapped up nicely, I was left hanging on what’s going on with Amber’s whole reason for returning to the farm. No, I’m not a cliffhanger fan. I like for things to be neatly tied up with a bow at the end! It was almost as if the disappearance of Amber’s relatives was the main story, but somewhere along the way Karl’s story hijacked your mind so that it was only at the end you remembered to go “Oh, them! Um, well…Funny you should mention that…”
Thank you, though, for a very lovely read. I enjoyed getting to know your characters and look forward to seeing more about them in the future! C+