Katrina Monroe and the Dark Side of Fiction
Katrina Monroe is an author, mother, and professional haterologist. Her favorite things to hate include socks that fall down, grape-flavored anything, and the color 'salmon.' Grab her books here.
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From the cover:
Julian, Tim, Cooper, and Dave risk the one thing they treasure above all else... their dicks.
GENITAL HARPIES is a short story based in the world created by Robert Bevan in his CAVERNS AND CREATURES series. It can be summed up as Dungeons & Dragons or Magic the Gathering meets Jumanji (the movie, not the game). Sounds fun because, well, it is.
The story opens with our main characters attempting to teach a group of goblin-like creatures how to play poker. A disaster, really, and it reminded me of that time (I was maybe 13) that my step-father taught my siblings and I (there were 5 of us) the game. We played for pennies—not our lives, like these characters—but the outcome was basically the same. To this day, I look at someone sideways if they suggest a “friendly” game.
Since the story is part of a larger series, the funny isn’t uninterrupted by explanations and backstory. This is a double-edged sword because, while the jokes hit back to back, the rhythm is interrupted with questions—what are points? What’s with these guys and why are they playing poker with goblins?—that can’t be answered without going back and reading the others in the series.
Aside from the question potholes, the story reads smoothly. Character interactions and dialogue are authentic. The reader gets to know the characters (who are, arguably, not all that different aside from species and naïveté) organically, which is usually difficult to pull off in such a short amount of words. Well done, Bevan.
Like in most comedy-centric novels, the suspense established by the opening is diminished by knowing glances and “tells” given by the antagonist for the sake of a laugh. But thanks to Bevan’s limited magic rules and his propensity to make life as hard as possible on his characters, suspense rebuilds, pulling the reader along through certain danger.
Danger, of course, is a subjective term in this story. Harpies and ogres and murderous vegetation (oh my!) all have it out for our “heroes,” but they might just be taken out by the likes of Cooper’s gas, first. I love a good fart joke as much as the next guy, but these might be a little over the top.
Overall, GENITAL HARPIES is a quick, silly read. If you plan to read it (and you should), I recommend hitting the books first.