The best books about monsters at work

Why am I passionate about this?

Fantasy of all kinds is my jam, but I particularly like stories that weave monsters or myths into real life. When an author manages to reinvent a familiar monster trope, like Vivian Shaw with Van Helsing, and spin it into a new, stylized story, that’s the best display of cleverness. I’ve read an embarrassing amount of these kinds of books from Terry Pratchett to Frank Herbert. I think the notion of monsters/creatures/gods is our way of examining the different layers of the human psyche and a well-written monster trope story delivers that self-examination with a spoon full of fantastical sugar.  

I wrote...

Pillar of Heaven

By Kitty Shields,

Book cover of Pillar of Heaven

What is my book about?

Do you stop assassins from killing your evil boss or help them out?

With the holidays looming and student loans coming to call, Kate McGovern needs to find a good-paying job and fast, preferably away from the masses of caffeine junkies and coffee snobs. But finding a job sucks. Finding your first proper job after college when you have no experience and no idea what you want to do really sucks. Then Kate’s favorite customer puts her up for an executive assistant gig with one of the richest men in Boston. And suddenly, Kate’s luck has changed. The catch? Her new boss expects her to read his mind. Literally. And she’s pretty sure he’s evil. No big deal. First jobs are always tough, right?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Forging Hephaestus

Kitty Shields Why did I love this book?

Here we follow Tori as she’s scooped up by the Villain’s Guild and given two choices: apprentice or die. And so Tori finds herself apprenticed out, forced to work in corporate America, plan heists on the side, and dodge the Heroes intent on nabbing her. Drew Hayes is a master of world-building. His dry sense of humor coupled with his expansive imagination on powers, super or magic or mutant, blows my mind. I love pretty much all the characters—how complex and authentic they read. I also love how Hayes’ writing often gets you to examine your own inherent prejudices. Who are the monsters? Where are the lines between good guys and bad guys? And the big question: what’s really important in life?

By Drew Hayes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Forging Hephaestus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Drew Hayes, author of Super Powereds and Fred, the Vampire Accountant, comes a series set in a new world of capes, cowls, and superheroes.

Gifted with metahuman powers in a world full of capes and villains, Tori Rivas kept away from the limelight, preferring to work as a thief in the shadows. But when she’s captured trying to rob a vault that belongs to a secret guild of villains, she’s offered a hard choice: prove she has what it takes to join them or be eliminated.

Apprenticed to one of the world’s most powerful (and supposedly dead) villains, she…

Book cover of Discount Armageddon

Kitty Shields Why did I love this book?

Discount Armageddon was my introduction to urban fantasy where monsters are everywhere. Seanan is also a great world-builder and the extensive variety of cryptids in her work is impressive. The tone can only be described as cheeky. We follow Verity Price, a wannabe professional dancer and secret cryptozoologist, who has a cult of talking mice living in her kitchen. I like how upfront Verity is about the difficulties in her life. She doesn’t paint a rosy picture, but she doesn’t let it hold her back either. Challenges are meant to be faced and overcome. Failures are educational. Also, the dragons in this particular story are awesome.

By Seanan McGuire,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Discount Armageddon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and humanity from them.

Meet Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan to pursue her dream career in professional ballroom dance. That is, until talking mice, telepathic mathematicians, and a tangle with the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George, get in her way...

Book cover of Strange Practice

Kitty Shields Why did I love this book?

Greta Helsing’s family dropped the ‘Van’ half a century ago. And they don’t hunt vampires so much as heal them. That’s right, Greta is a supernatural doctor. Vivian Shaw has created a world where the good guys are genuinely good, unselfish people. I love me an antihero, but it’s a refreshing change of pace when the good guys really just want to help other people without ulterior motives. Despite the fact that most of the characters aren’t human, it restores my faith in humanity. I also appreciate the historical references and subtle geekery in these books. For example, Greta is a specialist in mummy reconstruction, and the detail Shaw goes into, just tickles me.

By Vivian Shaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Strange Practice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book in a delightfully witty fantasy series in which Dr. Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead, must defend London from both supernatural ailments and a bloodthirsty cult

Greta Helsing inherited her family's highly specialized and highly peculiar medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills: vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although she barely makes ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta's been groomed for since childhood.

Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror…

Book cover of The Kaiju Preservation Society

Kitty Shields Why did I love this book?

I did not expect to like The Kaiju Preservation Society and, frankly, the first couple of chapters gave me pandemic PTSD. The book is set firmly in the very beginning of the Covid lockdown and who wants to revisit that? But, the story does not linger in lockdown (thank the gods!) Nope, very quickly the story delves into the KPS, its mission, and its… well, location. And it is so damn funny. I laughed out loud through most of the book, sometimes with tears running down my face. The tone is flippant and fun, the situations absurd. The monsters are not exactly fuzzy, but wonderful. When your job involves protecting the monsters, you can’t expect things to go smoothly.

By John Scalzi,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Kaiju Preservation Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Kaiju Preservation Society is John Scalzi's first standalone adventure since the conclusion of his New York Times bestselling Interdependency trilogy.

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn't tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here…

Book cover of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer

Kitty Shields Why did I love this book?

When your line of work is necromancy—monsters, zombies, and the Devil are all sort of a given. What makes Johannes Cabal so wonderful is how dismissive he is of all that. Listen, he has a mission: to beat Death. No one, not Satan or a stupid diabolical bet, are going to stand in his way. Jonathan Howard based this on the classic Something Wicked This Way Comes. Most of his books pay homage to one classic or another from Sherlock Holmes to Cthulu. It’s fun seeing how he works those details in while maintaining his own voice and style. But I really love how bad of a person Johannes is. And yet, you can’t help but root for him anyway. 

By Jonathan L. Howard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Johannes Cabal the Necromancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The page-turning first novel in the charmingly gothic, fiendishly funny Faustian series about a brilliant scientist who makes a deal with the Devil, twice. • "The spot-on work of a talented writer." —The Denver Post

Johannes Cabal sold his soul years ago in order to learn the laws of necromancy. Now he wants it back. Amused and slightly bored, Satan proposes a little wager: Johannes has to persuade one hundred people to sign over their souls or he will be damned forever. This time for real. Accepting the bargain, Jonathan is given one calendar year and a traveling carnival to…

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The Pact

By Lisa Darcy,

Book cover of The Pact

Lisa Darcy Author Of The Pact

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Cat lover Traveler Reader Amateur tennis player Foodie

Lisa's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Pact is a contemporary fiction novel about Australian sisters, Samantha and Annie, who are doubles tennis champions. This story amplifies the usual sibling issues and explores their professional partnership and personal relationships – similarities, differences, motivation, competition, abandonment, and grief – and how they each respond to the stress of constantly being under the media spotlight.

What happens when, at the pinnacle of fame, it all falls apart?

With dreams shattered and egos destroyed, how do they cope?

I have an older sister and although our rapport isn’t as dramatic, or as close, for that matter, I was able…

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