Welcome to another review as part of the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship, or SFINCS, which I am judging as part of Team Jamreads alongside a cohort of other lovely judges. For my SFINCS reviews, I will be judging each book on the following five criteria: Characters, Setting, Plot, Writing, and Enjoyment with a bonus point for Cover Art and Formatting. This review contains my honest thoughts and does not represent the opinion or final rating of the team.
This review is for We’re All Monsters Here by Amy Marsden and is a semi-finalist allocated to Team Jamreads for review.
When Anna is invited to a secluded retreat full of selfish, greedy humans, of course she doesn’t say no. Not only did she manipulate the CEO of the world’s largest oil corporation, Peter Beyer, into organising the four-day getaway in the first place, but no self-respecting vampire would ever turn down such easy prey. Her weekend gets even better when she meets Saira, one of Peter Beyer’s employees, and they begin a whirlwind affair. Blood and beautiful women are Anna’s idea of a great time.
She should have known it was too good to be true.
Hunters are dangerous, deadly, and dedicated to eradicating vampires. When a group of them turn up at the retreat, Anna must use her centuries of experience to escape their ever-closing net. Will she get out unscathed, or will they finally catch up to her? Will she give into her intense and unexpected feelings for Saira, or will she leave her to burn as she destroys all evidence she was ever there?
A fresh twist on urban fantasy, with an added splash of sapphic romance.
A fresh take on the urban fantasy genre from a villain’s perspective, if you count vampires literally eating the rich as villainous, which I don’t. We’re All Monsters Here is the Sapphic rip-roaring bloodthirsty riot you didn’t know you needed.
Our main character is Anna, a vampire who’s lived through a few hundred years and seen it all. Well travelled and well versed in many cultures, she’s learned what it takes to survive as a vampire in this modern world. That, of course, includes building a portfolio of riches and living comfortably, because if you’ve lived for hundreds of years and AREN’T rich yet, then clearly you’re doing something wrong. Anna is smart and resourceful and knows what she wants. Being a vampire, she’s careful of where she sources her blood from, but she also cares about the environment, as you would if you were practically immortal. Thus, she makes her living, quite literally, but bleeding companies dry. She’s invited to a business trip where she plans to devour the top bosses in charge. But while she’s there, she attracts the charms of Saira, the company’s secretary, and that leads to some flirtatious behaviour and a deadly encounter. Has Anna bitten off more than she can chew? (Sorry, I’m gonna keep rolling with the puns!)
Anna has a plan for taking out a group of greedy business executives who are contributing to climate change while also satisfying her hunger. This doesn’t make her a BAD bad guy, but she is a murderer, placing her in a morally grey category. Personally I enjoyed Anna’s character, though she did make a couple of decisions that I disagreed with.
Taking place in a posh resort, the hotel is a backdrop for Anna’s activities and gave me Glass Onion vibes. I’ve not read many urban fantasies set in a similar location or as a backdrop for murder, so this was a nice change of pace.
Anna had her goals all planned out – commit delicious murder by killing off the resort’s guests one by one, cover up the bodies, and then escape fully satisfied. That is, until she falls for Saira, the human secretary. As the two of them flirt back and forth, Anna is left with the dilemma of what to do with her. Let her go? Kill her? Turn her into a vampire? As the story progresses, there’s a few twists thrown into the mix, and we end with a brutal and rather messy conclusion. Throughout, there is a very strong ‘eat the rich’ anti-capitalist vibe. Some readers may find this quite on the nose, and it is. This book doesn’t hold back nor does it take itself seriously.
There is some loving thrown in, and again, it doesn’t hold back here on the detail. If you love your fantasy with a touch of Sapphic smut, then this is for you.
Written from Anna’s perspective, the writing and dialogue was smooth and a lot of fun, with plenty of sexy snark. Anna has much to say about her vampire history and how capitalism is destroying the world.
While some people may be put off from the blood, gore, sex, and the heavy anti-capitalist themes, these are the elements I crave in fiction, and thus this book was right up my alley. We’re All Monsters Here is a cathartic explosion of blood that explores what it means to be a real monster, and it’s not the blood-sucking vampires.
Cover Art and Formatting
The cover is very stylishly red and does the job!