"Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter" Book Review
Edited by Miles Boothe
2011, 271 pages, Fiction
Released on April 11th, 2011
Just over a month ago I reviewed Flesh and Bone: Rise of the Necromancers, an anthology of dark fantasy from Pill Hill Press. While the dark fantasy genre isn't a favorite genre of mine — hell, it might not make top 10, even — I still really enjoyed the book, as each story was pretty entertaining on some level or another. I was also impressed with the editing of Jessy Marie Roberts, and if Flesh and Bone was any indication of the quality of Pill Hill Press's catalog, they would be a small press publisher to watch. Well, after reading Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter, I have to say Pill Hill Press is two for two.
Who doesn't have love and respect for the monster hunter? The protectors of the world from the beasties that want nothing more than to eat us up. Often working in the shadows, sometimes for pay, sometimes out of the goodness of their hearts, this elite group of defenders makes it so we can sleep easy, free of worry from the things that go bump in the night. Pill Hill Press's release of Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter allows us, the common man (or woman), to follow along from the safety of our own homes in an anthology packed with 29 tales of danger from werewolves to vampires and everything in between.
The book is divided into four sections: The Werewolf Hunters (seven stories), The Vampire Hunters (five stories), The Spirit Hunters (five stories), and The Monster Hunters (12 stories).While the first three sections are self explanatory, the final section consists of tales of zombies, gargoyles, monster hunter teams in the vein of Monster Cops, and more. There's a little something for everyone in Leather, Denim & Silver. Rather than review all 29 stories — because, really, I don't want to write that and you don't have the time to read it — I will give you my favorites of each section.
I would love to take the easy way out and say all the stories were equally good in The Werewolf Hunters. Lycanthropy is my favorite sub-genre of horror, so I know I'm being biased when I say I enjoyed the stories in the first section just a bit more than the others. However, if any of the tales get an edge over the others, it would be Miles Boothe's Black Horse Trading Company. In addition to editing this fine anthology, Boothe also has one of the more memorable yarns in the book. Following a werewolf hunter named William, Boothe immediately thrusts you into the story with William's capture, and his shared imprisonment with a little girl, by the very man he is hunting. The action doesn't come until towards the end of the tale, as William is trapped in his cell for a good chunk of it, but the story is riveting enough to keep you interested to find out who he was hunting and what the payback will be.
Eric Pollarine's The Fullness of Your Truth is tops in The Vampire Hunters category. I'm not a huge fan of vampires much anymore. I like them ugly and nasty and less goth; more 30 Days of Night and less Interview with the Vampire. While the tale has the (seems to be) traditional, beautiful vampire, its main character is a Churched trained, gun-blessed-by-the-Pope carrying vampire hunter. Short description? He fights vampires for the Lord. I liked the idea in John Carpenter's Vampires (although I have not read the book, Vampire$, it was based on) and I like the idea here. Pollarine does a great job in keeping the main character a mystery and compelling as he hunts down his current prey. It helps that story has a noir feel to it, a genre which I'm also a fan of.
In The Spirit Hunters section, Nadya's Nights: Frost by Indy McDaniel is a fun little trip through a moment in the life of Nadya. Dumped at an orphanage at the age of four, the child suffers through years of torment until finally escaping. She comes back a professional killer, just over a decade later, and reluctantly goes after the evil spirit that haunts the halls of the orphanage. What's interesting about Nadya's Nights is McDaniel did not make the character a one dimensional bad ass. Nadya has some serious issues going on, and they affect her job performance tremendously.
Finally, The Source barely edges out the tales as my favorite in The Monster Hunters section, if only for its fantastic 'oh shit, did you just go there?!' ending. Wilson, a monster hunter, is recruited by the Nightmare Guild — his arch enemies if there ever were any — to take out the cause of all strife; for both monster and humans alike. After his eyes are opened to the trouble this new target has caused, he reluctantly takes on the task. While I suspected the ending before it came, I have to admit that it was still surprising that author Christopher Nadeau carried through with it. Sure it can be argued that his ending is open ended, but not so much that, yeah, that just happened.
While I only touched on just four of the 29 stories in Leather, Denim & Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter, I can assure you that all are quite enjoyable. I would have happily talked about each one, as only discussing a few does do a disservice to the others. But rest assured, if you are a fan of the slayers of beasties, you can't go wrong with this one. Editor Miles Boothe did a great job picking out tales not just consistent with the book's theme, but compelling, action-packed and just flat-out fun narratives. The book's MSRP of $16.99 is well worth it considering the amount of tales, and if you are a Kindle owner, you can currently snag it for five bucks, which is an absolute steal.