Tough Traveling: MONSTERS


Hey, this is my first time participating in Tough Traveling, a weekly event created and hosted by Nathan from the Fantasy Review Barn! I’m finally joining the party this week, because the theme is “Monsters,” and I tend to read lots of books with monsters in them.

Nathan’s idea for Tough Traveling is to follow along with Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which is a funny and irreverent send-up all of the fantasy clichés and tropes you can think of. Each week, Nathan picks one of those tropes, and bloggers are encouraged to come up with a list of books that fit the category.

This week, we’re talking about MONSTERS:

MONSTERS are likely to lie in waste areas, caves, and old ruined cities. You can usually detect their presence by smell.

If I didn’t limit myself, this list could seriously get out of control! So I selected the first six books with great examples of monsters that popped into my head:

City of Stairs

Urav from City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. Urav was one of my favorite things about this book, even though he only plays a small role in the story. Urav is a many-tentacled sea monster that devastates the city of Bulikov. Scary yes, but I sure loved him!

The Blue Blazes

Gobbos (goblins), Vollraths, Trogbodies, Snakefaces and more from The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. This was one of my favorite books last year, and is a great example of a creative use of monsters. In The Blue Blazes, the underground world of New York City is alive with monsters, because of a hole that leads straight into Hell. The kicker—you can only see them if you take a drug called Blue Blazes.

Full Fathom Five

Penitents from Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. Max’s Craft Sequence books all have monsters in them, but I particularly liked the Penitents from this book. Penitents are huge creatures made out of rock that act as prisons for humans who break the law. These unfortunate people are trapped inside the body of a Penitent and must go after other law-breakers, in order to force them into the same horrific situation. It’s an extremely painful process for those unfortunate enough to be caught.

The Shotgun Arcana

Gerta from The Shotgun Arcana by R.S. Belcher. I haven’t posted my review of this book yet, but it has one of the most interesting monsters I’ve run across: a Frankenstein-like creation. Auggie’s dead wife Gerta’s head has been kept “alive” by mad scientist Clay since the first book in the series, The Six-Gun Tarot, and you won’t believe what happens to Gerta in this follow-up book!


The Weir from Three by Jay Posey. Weir are humanoid-like creatures with glowing blue eyes that live in the desolate Strand, a dangerous place where humans are prey. If you are caught by a Weir, you may become one yourself.

The Scar

The Remade and more from The Scar by China Miéville. It’s been YEARS since I read this book, so my memory is a bit hazy. But Miéville is one of the grandmasters of monsters. Just about every character in this book has some monstrous quality or other. The Remade are slaves who have had their bodies physically altered. This book also has grindylows (like the ones in Harry Potter!), sea creatures who drown their victims in the ocean. I know I’m forgetting a bunch of other great examples from this book, but like I said, I read this a really long time ago.  Just READ THIS BOOK if you haven’t already.

That was fun! I’d love to hear from you. I’m sure I missed many great examples of monsters:-) Thanks to Nathan for hosting! Check out the link above if you’d like to join in the fun.

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Posted October 30, 2014 by Tammy in Tough Traveling / 18 Comments


18 responses to “Tough Traveling: MONSTERS

  1. The creature I remember from The Scar were the mosquito women they encountered. Crazy. I forgot I have a copy of Belchers new book! I need to get on that.

    Blue Blazes looks pretty cool too.

    • I have forgotten a lot of details about The Scar, I’d like to read it again. And yes, The Blue Blazes is AMAZING. READ!

  2. Interesting list. I want to read The Six-Gun Tarot before the year’s out, sounds like I’m in for a pretty bizarre ride 😀 I still haven’t made it to The Scar either. All hail Urav! Urav vs Sigrud was something straight out of Beowulf, incredible stuff.

  3. Six gun Tarot looks awesome as does the sequel to it. City Of Stairs is mine to tackle over the weekend and I shall be keeping my eyes peeled for Urav!

  4. I was just saying on another blog that China Mieville seems to have a thing for monsters! I am seeing his name everywhere on these lists today and different books too.

    And what a tease about Shotgun Arcana. The wife kept alive was one of the storylines I was disappointed in because it went nowhere in the first book, but glad to hear that wasn’t the end of it!

  5. I really want to read The Blue Blazes so thanks for that reminder! The only one I’ve read off here is Three – nice choice with that one.
    Lynn 😀

    • Read The Blue Blazes before the sequel comes out, I think it’s coming out in January?? (maybe) One of my very fave books EVER!

  6. What an amazing list and such a great concept! I’ll have to keep an eye out for future Tough Travelings 🙂

    I’m embarrased to admit that I haven’t read a single one of the books on your list, but 2/3 were already on my TBR and the rest are going on right away! 🙂 I’m seriously considering not reading your posts anymore, Tammy, as you’re killing my TBR 😉 😀
    And that’s the biggest compliment I can give! 😀

    • Ha ha, thanks for the laugh, Camilla! I’m super sorry to keep adding books to your pile:-) No wait I’m not!! LOL.

  7. The first books that pop into my mind when I think of monsters is the Fever series by Karen M. Moning! I’m going to have to check some of these books out, several of them I haven’t heard of before 😀 Chuck Wendig is one of those authors that’s on my list to-read one of these days, his books look great and I love his tweets!

    April @ My Shelf Confessions

  8. Wow, gorgeous cover art for The Blue Blazes. That’s the kind of book that I’d buy at the store without having read the synopsis, haha. Urav has appeared on several lists and sounds completely awesome – who can resist a sea monster? I’ve really got to read City of Stairs soon!