Cedar Hunt, is a complex man with layers of curses. It is set in a time in America where whilst the East has been tamed by man and technology, the west remains rough and wild. It is a land where sorcery meets science.
Hunt is a man cursed by lycanthropy after an encounter with a Pawnee god. Haunted by his memory of killing his own while in the thrall of the full moon(who was also in the form of a wolf), he wanders the land as a tracker for hire. He eventually stumbles upon a sleepy town in Oregon, named Hallelujah. He discovers a terrible plot by the race of beings known only as “The Strange.” A plot that, if successful, would utterly destroy the nation. With the help of some local townsfolk, each of whom has their own tangled past and motivations, he sets out to defeat the plot, whilst seeking to redeem himself.
It does admittedly start out slowly and takes a while to really get the ball rolling. However, the slow build up does, in a way, work in the author’s favor as it allows Monk to properly weave this world on her literary loom. The myriad of characters in this book is almost bewildering at times. From a rogue werewolf who works as a tracker, to a witch, a zombie(in a sense), and races that defy typical descriptions. Mrs. Monk has allowed her imagination to run wild, and what a ride it is. However, if you’re going into this looking for a straight up steam punk adventure, you’ve come to the wrong place. It does have steam punk elements, especially the emphasis on the making of ‘matics’ (machines). However, it is far from a pure steam punk romp. This is overall a fantasy novel with a steam punk cover. This doesn’t detract from the overall quality of it, it’s simply not quite the genre of book it appears to be.
This book is a beautifully woven tale. The love and care put into each miniscule detail of the history of the characters and of the land itself is clearly evident. The storytelling and description of the land are highly illustrative and quickly draw the reader in. This is a vast world that these characters reside in. Being the first book in a series, one can only imagine where Mrs. Monk will take it from here.