Title: Pretty Monsters (Josh of the Damned#1)
Author: Andrea Speed
Length: 18 pages, 2630 words.
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: M/M, contemporary, paranormal, comedy
Blurb: Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot. Still, he likes to think he can roll with things. Sure, the zombies make a mess sometimes, but at least they never reach for anything more threatening than frozen burritos.
Besides, it’s not all lizard-monsters and the walking dead. There’s also the mysterious hottie with the sly red lips and a taste for sweets.
Josh has had the hots for Hot Guy since the moment he laid eyes on him, and it seems Hot Guy might be sweet on Josh too. Now if only Josh could figure out whether that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between. After all, with a hell vortex just a stone’s throw away, Josh has learned to take nothing at face value—even if it’s a very, very pretty face.
Review: I enjoyed this author’s style and wit, but my overall rating is heavily influenced by my feelings about the length of this story.
This was fun to read, the author’s turn of phrase is witty and hot. It’s all from Josh’s internal monologue, passing the time at his uninspiring job. I love the way it’s accepted that weird alien creatures will be passing through. They may be gruesome or unpleasant, but the fun premise is that this is usual. Note Josh’s hilarious response to a zombie shopping: It was also missing its right foot, which ended in a bony stub that it dragged it across the floor, leaving a muddy trail on the tile. “Hey, no shoes, no service,” Josh said reflexively. “Next time, put a sock over your stump.” Josh is apparently a fun-loving boy, though I didn’t glean much knowledge of him except that he’s resigned to his job, says “hot” far too much, and wants to jump – or be jumped by – Hot Guy.
The prose is vivid and imaginative: Thwak-thwak-thwak echoed in the shop as Lizard Guy waddle-stomped down the aisle, making a beeline for the Fritos display – but I don’t feel it gets a good enough chance to shine. Some of the customers are described in great detail, leaving little for the main character development. There’s too much about Hot Guy’s eyes – flashing, sparkling – and blatant signposts to his real nature, so he comes across as rather cliché.
Overall, and unfortunately, this story left me both unsatisfied and irritated. This is obviously only my opinion. It feels like a mere chapter rather than a decent-length story, even presented as Part#1. It introduces a few characters and a setting but gives no context as to where the story sits now, or will develop. There’s no resolution here, in part or full. Josh is a fun character, but Colin is a sketchy token at best. Is there to be any connection between them in future “parts”? Is Josh going to follow other crushes, as well or instead? Are the other shoppers walk-on characters, or part of ongoing world-building?
I don’t need to know exactly what’s going to happen in future, but I need something to make me care enough to find out. This brief scene doesn’t have enough to hook me in; no time for the characters to endear themselves to me. I received an ARC to review, but had I bought the story, I’d have been even more irritated. There are only 7 actual pages of narrative, and no note as to how it’ll continue. How many parts are proposed? Is there an underlying arc in mind? Is it a character series, a get-together in instalments, or unconnected vignettes? Like I say, not enough to keep me personally on board as a purchaser.
This felt like a missed opportunity, and the author short-changed. As a scene-setting, it will maybe attract a following, and I hope the story develops into something more substantial over time.
by pettyprose…my opinion alone.