Mama bear instincts scream into overdrive for MHI sharp-shooter Julie Shackleford when her new baby is kidnapped by monsters.
While her husband and legendary monster-hunter hero, Owen Pitt, is off fighting a chaos god with most of MHI (Monster Hunter Siege), Julie Shackleford is stuck minding the shop and watching over baby Ray, aka Little Bubba.
A routine recruitment turns into a trap, and Julie is forced to bargain with an adze, a powerful, sneaky vampire-like creature that possesses regular folks. It wants the ancient artifact she’s been chosen to guard in exchange for baby Ray. Needless to say, the adze does not play fair. In her desperate search for Ray, Julie single-handedly cuts a wide swath through the monsters of Europe. She must also deal with some personal issues when her evil, Master Vampire mother wants Ray for herself.
I am a big Monster Hunters International series fan, but this is not one of my favorites. Julie’s solo, Sarah Connor-like one-woman crusade gets a little tiring. I get that the maternal instinct is strong. I get that she is obsessed with the baby—How can we miss it? She tells us ad nauseum—but her single-minded fervor bogs the story down. (That sounds terrible to say. Nothing meant against protective mothers. Just in this case). Guardian is missing a lot of the humor, devil-may-care monster battles, and quirky characters that make the other books in the series shine.
On the plus side: Thank goodness for the Shoggoth. (!) Mr. Trash Bags is a delight. More, please. We are treated to page-turning action, serious weaponry, a great monster auction scene, and a satisfying knock-down drag-out assault on the bad guys’ hideout: all good stuff.