Monster Hunter Alpha: Earl Harbinger’s story

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMonster Hunter Alpha by Larry CorreiaMonster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia

Welcome to the exciting world of professional monster hunting. Usually not quite so… messy. Well, it’s always messy, but we’ve reached a whole ‘nother level on this one.

I’ve been heartily enjoying Larry Correia’s MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series so far. It’s been non-stop freaky monsters, evil villains, rigid government agents, flying fists, biting teeth, scratching claws, falling bodies, fiery explosions, gaping portals to hell, and lots and lots of gun porn. Now we’re back for round three.

The first two books, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta, focused on Owen Zastava Pitt (Big Z), who was recruited by MHI after killing his boss who had turned into a werewolf. If you haven’t read those books, stop right now and go order them. Don’t read any further because this review will contain some spoilers for the previous books.

This third book, Monster Hunter Alpha, is Earl Harbinger’s story. Earl is the leader of MHI (which you’re supposed to know if you’re still reading this). Readers who’ve read the previous books also know that he’s a 200-year-old werewolf with a memory-eating worm in his brain. He’s writing a journal so he can get his memories on paper before they’re gone. Not long after the events in book 2, Earl gets a visit from an old acquaintance who warns him that there are some strange happenings in Copper Lake, Michigan and it sounds like Earl’s old nemesis, a KGB werewolf named Nikolai (“Stalin’s favorite werewolf”), may be responsible. Since Earl is the most powerful werewolf in the United States (and probably the world), he needs to go take care of it before Nikolai starts an epidemic. But Earl isn’t the only one who wants to take down the Russian werewolf. There’s an unscrupulous start-up freelance monster-killer who wants in on the action so he can collect the bounty, and there’s a corrupt government bureaucrat who’s got his own agenda. They are going to cause a lot of trouble.

Thus, confusion, chaos and carnage descend on Copper Lake. Communication has been cut off so they can’t get help from the outside. Fortunately Copper Lake has a courageous and dutiful (and pretty) police deputy, and the locals, who’ve taken full advantage of their Second Amendment rights, are willing to fight back. (“Wake up your family and get your guns!”) Earl picks up a couple of other unexpected allies, too. When Earl and his partners finally figure out what’s really going on they realize that it’s a lot more sinister than just an alpha werewolf trying to move into Earl’s territory. It’s related to what happened to MHI in the previous novels and what’s going to happen in future novels, and it has far-reaching consequences for the whole world.

Like the previous MONSTER HUNTER books, Monster Hunter Alpha is heart-poundingly scary, but Correia, as usual, provides some comic relief. This installment, like the others, has excellent character development and is beautifully plotted. The Copper Lake story moves the entire series forward while also helping (along with Earl’s journal entries) to fill in the historical and psychological background on Earl and some more history of Monster Hunter International. Very nicely done.

I didn’t like Monster Hunter Alpha as well as I liked the previous books for two reasons. First, WE NEVER SEE BIG Z! That was more than a little disappointing, which makes me suspect that I may have a crush on him…. I’ll think about that later. I also missed Agent Franks. Maybe I have a crush on him, too…  The other reason, and this is the main reason, is that Monster Hunter Alpha is disgustingly gruesome. There’s lots of blood and guts and splattering brains. In fact, Monster Hunter Alpha is so grisly that it feels like a hack ‘n’ slash horror movie or a survival horror video game. I had nightmares after I finished it.

Readers who love Earl Harbinger and don’t mind the gore will be very pleased with Monster Hunter Alpha. As for me, I can’t wait to get back to Big Z and Agent Franks in Monster Hunter Legion!

Release date: July 26, 2011 | Series: Monster Hunter. Dirty Harry meets Twilight.  #3 in the break-out series and a follow-up to Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta. Earl Harbinger may be the leader of Monster Hunter International, but he’s also got a secret. Nearly a century ago, Earl was cursed to be werewolf.  When Earl receives word that one of his oldest foes, a legendarily vicious werewolf that worked for the KGB, has mysteriously appeared in the remote woods of Michigan, he decides to take care of some unfinished business. But another force is working to bring about the creation of a whole new species of werewolf. When darkness falls, the final hunt begins, and the only thing standing in their way is a handful of locals, a lot of firepower, and Earl Harbinger’s stubborn refusal to roll over and play dead.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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