Book Review: No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Mysterious, anarchist, ACAB stars!

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No Gods, No Monsters is absolutely fantastic. Cadwell Turnbull wrote an incredibly unique fantasy novel laced with so many real world problems that were represented in such fascinating ways it was hard to turn put it down. There are definitely some heavy topics in here, so be aware that it is not a light book, but it is worth it. You just have to pay attention.

Like most things, love came as a decision: I’m going to look harder at this one.

The story starts off with Laina hearing news of her brother’s brutal murder by the police. This starts a string of many seemingly unrelated events in many people’s lives. The world finds out that monsters are real, and they are living among us, risking their lives to seek safety in visibility. But why? Why are they making this display now? What is happening to make them do this?

If you are not paying attention to this book, it is a little easy to get lost. The chapters are short snippets, and there are many characters who get their point of view represented. I imagine many reviews are going to speak on this piece. However, to me, the multitude seemingly unrelated characters functioned to remind me the extent to which police violence, othering, and oppression can seep into every aspect of society, and affect people who don’t even seem to be connected. It functioned to remind me that stories of people like this are often forgotten for the same exact reason. Sometimes there are just too many, and not enough attention bestowed upon them. It reminded me constantly of the bigger picture.

No one knows who he was, how he died. He’ll be lost in all this, his tragedy a deleted footnote. Unless someone says his name.

What impressed me the most about this novel was that, though the characters seem to be unrelated, Turnbull connects each character just enough that it reminds you that they are connected somehow. It is just the perfect balance to keep you interested in all of their stories, separately and together. There are little Easter eggs in each point of view that remind you that the stories are going to connect, as long as you are a little bit patient.

No Gods, No Monsters is a play on words of the popular anarchist and labour slogan “No Gods, No Masters” which is often used as a chant at protests. This book is a a definitely piece of work in the step of justice within literature. Go Cadwell Turnbull, you nailed it!

There is no way of knowing how many world-changing events were precipitated by the phantom cause of paranoia, but the number is sure to be vast.

Big Takeaway

No Gods, No Monsters is an incredibly inclusive story about othering, oppression, police violence, connection and how we stay safe and fight back. Though it is heavy at times, and there are many characters to follow, it is absolutely a wonderful work of art.

Bonus: More by Author

Wondering what to do while you wait for this one to be released in September? Not ready to start an entire book? Jump on over to Lightspeed Magazine and read Cadwell Turnbull’s short Jump. Jump was my first introduction to Cadwell Turnbull, and since then I have been itching to read more of his work. Which of course is what prompted me to read this one. Short stories are incredibly important, and I thought this one was fantastic. Go read it HERE!

What do you think? Are you going to pick up a copy yourself in September? Have you read Cadwell Turnbull before? Did you read Jump? Let me know, I’d love to hear!

About the Author

I received my MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Linguistics at North Carolina State University. I also attended Clarion West 2016.

My short fiction can be found in the pages of Asimov’s Science FictionLightspeed, and Nightmare to name a few. My Nightmare story “Loneliness is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. My Asimov’s novelette “Other Worlds and This One” was also selected as a notable story for the anthology. My short story “Jump” was selected for the Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 and featured on LeVar Burton Reads.

My debut novel The Lesson is set in my native U.S. Virgin Islands after an alien colonization. The novel has received some great press, including making best of 2019 lists for Publisher’s Weekly, *Library Journal*, *Kirkus* Reviews, and included in Locus‘ 2019 Recommended Reading List for First Novel.

Since its publication, The Lesson has been nominated for a SOVAS Award in fiction, an Audie Award in Science Fiction, and an AAMBC Literary Award. The novel has been shortlisted for the 2020 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and longlisted for the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award.

The Lesson was the recipient of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award in the debut category. It has also been optioned by AMC for a television series in collaboration with The Mission Entertainment.

*I received a free advanced copy of this book, and am leaving this review voluntarily*

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