Book Review: The Monster MASH by Angie Fox
Half-fae, half-human doctor Petra Robichaud has been working in a MASH army camp in Limbo for seven years, after being conscripted into the New Gods’ Army, in their endless war against the old gods. Her life is an endless cycle of patching up soldiers and sending them back out to fight again, though it’s easier when most of your patients have super-healing. Except when they leave it too long to come in and you have to re-break bones to put them back together straight.
It’s rare for one of the immortals to die on her operating table, but that’s exactly what happens with demigod Galen of Delphi when a cursed dagger splinters apart inside his body and Petra can’t catch all the pieces. Until Petra uses the ability she’s thus far kept hidden… because it’s outlawed and likely to get her killed, or worse, eternally tortured in any one of a myriad of horribly creative ways. She can see and talk to the souls of the dead. And as Galen of Delphi’s soul leaves his body… she grabs it and stuffs it back in.
Now she has to hope Galen doesn’t remember anything when he wakes up. And pray that she hasn’t just triggered the prophecy which will definitely get her killed when the gods figure out she’s the one prophesied to end the war.
This is funny and clever and I absolutely love Petra, who’s 42 and both old enough to be cynical and yet incredibly young compared to the immortals she’s living amongst. Galen, as a hero, is a bit hard to get to know as the story is told in Petra’s first-person POV; he’s a bit Practically Perfect In Every Way, but as I understand this is a trilogy perhaps we get a bit deeper into his personality in the later books.
The worldbuilding here is amazing. It’s a really huge concept and the author does a great job of spreading the necessary information out rather than doing big expository infodumps. One thing I especially liked is that there is no real good and evil; Petra is in the New Gods’ Army but it’s clear she has no high opinion of them. And realistically, any overlords who give their conscripts 20 minutes of accrued leave per year of service (and don’t allow it to be used until at least a week is accrued) aren’t exactly worthy of loyalty.
I feel like the romance here suffered a bit because there was So Much Plot. It’s really more urban fantasy than paranormal romance; there’s so much plot the romance is spread out over a trilogy and the declaration of love did feel very sudden because Petra and Galen hadn’t actually gotten to spend all that much time together. I genuinely loved the side characters - Jeffe the sphinx was my absolute favourite - and I definitely want to read the rest of the trilogy, but this does have some flaws, mainly with Galen’s characterization. I don’t think being solely in Petra’s first-person POV did this book any favours. I’ll give it four and a half stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.