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Convergence Saga #1

No Gods, No Monsters

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One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

387 pages, Hardcover

First published September 7, 2021

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About the author

Cadwell Turnbull

27 books571 followers
Hello, I'm Cadwell Turnbull, author of the science fiction novel The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters (Book One of The Convergence Saga).

My short fiction has appeared in The Verge, Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. My short story “Loneliness is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. My short story "Jump" was selected for the Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019.

The Lesson was the recipient of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award in the debut category. It has also been optioned by AMC for a television series in collaboration with The Mission Entertainment.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,056 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
May 15, 2022
As like the king of authors said: “ Monsters are real and ghosts are real, too. They live inside us,sometimes they win.”

This story starts with a dead body! Laina opens her eyes on early October morning to learn the new tragic news about her brother’s brutal killing by Boston police officers. Is this just police brutality or there is something more vicious, blood thirsty and extra violent hidden behind the incident? But there is one reality that no one can ignore: MONSTERS ARE REAL! Mythical creatures stop hiding behind the shadows, freely walking around to bring out the chaos!

We’re also introduced to the professor at the first chapter who resigns from his job to go back to his hometown, following the traces his missing friend left behind which also drags him into a secret society, the same place a young boy with super powers uses its safety net, keeping his own dark secrets.

This is a riveting, urban fantasy page turner with lots of characters. But quick time jumps between past and present are a little disturbing. We want to know more about their back stories. There are so much rich materials to be used at more than two books. So I wish there were less characters but more detailed, elaborated life stories, less flashbacks.

But overall I am fan of this genre! This was quick, gripping, interesting, capturing, action packed and thrilling ride that I was truly excited to experience!

I’m giving werewolfish, mythical creatures, blood thirsty, shocking, horrifying four stars!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for sharing this super exciting reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 54 books7,174 followers
April 4, 2021
This story has been showing up in my dreams the last few days, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because the story is a haunting supernatural weaving of characters and stories that will keep you turning pages, anxious to see what happens next. Bad, because parts of the story are harrowing, skin-crawlingly creepy or wide-eyed, mouth open I-did-not-see-that-coming weird. On the surface, it is about monsters becoming known in our world, sort of a literary Urban Fantasy. Expect shifters and witches and occult secret societies. But underneath, Turnbull is talking about humanity, of course, and the marginalized among us who are treated like monsters and how we all are called to solidarity. There's plenty of politics here, but there's also a wild strangeness that I loved even more. Turnbull really shines when he allows himself to embrace the supernatural - those scenes had me by the neck. To wit, it sometimes feels like Turnbull is walking the edge of something really profound, the Truth (with a capital T) just beyond reach, glimpsed only in the moment one blinks their eyes. It's unsettling in the best way, and leaves you anxious and eager to understand more.

Other parts were a bit muddier (so many characters! but one mysterious narrator who only comes together near the end) but I think if you hold this story very gently in your hands, not asking for too much clarity out of the gate, trusting the author to lead you where you need to go, you will not be disappointed.

My guess is this book will appeal to those more prone to literary fiction and/or fans of beautiful prose and on-the-nose social commentary. You also might need a bit more patience to enjoy this one as the many characters sort themselves out and the mysteries of the story reveal themselves to you, but the journey is worth it. It gets under your skin in the end.

I was happy to open up Goodreads and see that this is the start of a series because I definitely need more. I wait in anticipation for Book 2.
Profile Image for Cadwell Turnbull.
Author 27 books571 followers
January 26, 2022
Hey Good People,

First off, thank you for coming on this journey with me. Books are nothing without readers. My gratitude is unending.

This isn’t a review. (For an unabridged version of this not-review, go HERE.)

Can an author review their own work? I think so. I considered giving myself a rating, even. An honest one.

But I worry it'd be the sort of thing that sounds like a good idea right up until the internet proves it isn't.

So, the better question: do I think this book is worth your time?

Maybe. I hope so. If after this not-review you still want to read the book.

I know some of you have been confused about certain aspects of No Gods.

So, here I am with a half-compromise to half-help readers who've found this book. Readers who might've seen this talked about, or buzzed about, or enthusiastically pushed into their inboxes, and now find themselves with a confused look on their face. Or readers that read my debut The Lesson and thought, "hey, I like what this guy is doing" and picked this up only to realize "I have no idea what this guy is doing, please help me."

Please know I did not intend to be completely bewildering. Maybe just a little. Or in an exciting way. Or in that very specific way when you're talking to a friend about a challenging topic and you're both invested in getting to the bottom of it, but you also know you won't because no one has gotten to bottom of it. It is just the air we all breathe, and you have to accept it, but occasionally not accepting it can be an enriching experience, you know?

Maybe you don’t and there’s no hope for this creature of mine to make sense to you. But I want to try. Because I do think it is amazing that readers take precious moments out of their own life to read work they're excited about. So maybe a head-to-head/heart-to-heart will do enough to make this worth the time/resources you've put in to read my book.

Anyway, here we go.

Things you should know while reading No Gods, No Monsters.

1. The protagonist is the community.

What “community” means may not be altogether clear yet. The community is on a hero’s journey (and they haven’t all found each other yet). Calamities will bring them together. Each POV is given to add (more) weight to each person within that whole.

Examples from TV:
The Wire (mostly The Wire, maybe The Expanse?)

Examples from fiction:
“The Matter of Seggri" by Ursula K. Le Guin (an epistolary novella, made up of different "matter" from the inhabitants of a planet called Seggri. The story of Seggri is told through shifting POVs over time. The planet has a narrative arc through the individual narratives.)

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Why am I doing this to you?

No Gods is sprawling, but there will be an honest attempt at bringing all the elements together over the course of the Convergence Saga (it’s three books, so, a trilogy, but why stop confusing you now?). When I discussed the name for the series with my publisher, we all agreed that the name of the series was important on many levels.

In my acknowledgments I (synonym for "acknowledged") that there were “too many” characters.

Lots of POVs is how my brain works. But I think that’s how stories in our world work, too. Communities move according to many intersecting narratives, not through the actions of single protagonists.

The goal is to represent community somehow, while giving the individual representations, the people, significant weight. They pull against the central narrative with their own specific concerns.

2. This book (and series) is about power. And MYSTERY. And how power uses mystery and is motivated by mystery. (More importantly it is about trying to capture the feeling of helplessness when hitting up against the incomprehensible.)

Examples from TV:
For Power: The Wire (again), Luke Cage (?), House of Cards, Succession

For MYSTERY: Lots, but my favorite is The Leftovers.

Examples in fiction:
For Power: Lots, but which ones can I name specifically. The Broken Earth Trilogy. Really, anything by Jemisin. Or Butler. Or Le Guin.

For MYSTERY: Big one that comes to mind is the Southern Reach Trilogy.

Why am I doing this to you?

Because it feels real to me? I’ve had to get comfortable with not knowing things or finding things out that lead to greater not knowings. I have a theory that there’s a relationship between this not-knowing and power. I also think too much about metaphysics.

So, how do I represent that to a reader? By writing a whole book where the big things are happening in the background and even the major players seem confused.

There are lots of things that will be answered. Promise. But I’m afraid to tell you that this mystery thing (and its power over people) comes up a LOT more. I really can’t say anything else because I am having a bodily reaction.

3. Plot is events. Otherwise, it is people learning things about themselves.

(Or, Plot is external things outside people’s control (calamity). Otherwise, it is (mostly) internal heart/mind things (sometimes) within people’s control brought about by social situations.)

I won’t give examples. I think this is a salt to taste thing, mostly. Some people like action, where action means people are actively doing a lot of things. And in No Gods people are doing things. Sometimes it is action-ish. Sometimes it is two people baking bread and one person’s hand gets burned and they both learn something? I can’t say why that’s plot to me, but it is.

Why am I doing this to you?

I really don’t know.

This point isn’t as important as the other two, but if you read No Gods and it feels like nothing is happening and/or makes you think, “Am I missing something?” You’re not. That’s just what this is.

(Edit (that is also sort of a spoiler for future books): .


Writing books are hard, so a big part of surviving the process is chasing the joy.

And selling a book is primarily about selling the things people get excited about and hoping that folks stick around for the other things you've slipped in (or packed in so hard the thing won’t close).

If none of this is helpful, thank you for coming to this thing I made anyway. Hope I can catch you again down the road. Also, have you read The Lesson? Shameless plug to read The Lesson. (But maybe don’t because the above things are also true-ish of The Lesson.)
May 27, 2022
blogthestorygraphletterboxd tumblrko-fi

My review for No Gods, No Monsters will not make a lot of sense. The main reason for this is that, to be quite frank, I did not ‘get’ this novel. I did try, I persevered in spite of my mounting confusion, hoping that at some point I would be able to understand the what/why/who/hows of this story…but, having now finished, I can safely (and sadly) say that I’m not sure what was the point of it all.
I’m fine with authors keeping their cards close to their chests. Two of my all fave novels, The Fifth Season and American Gods, do require the reader to have patience in order to understand their narratives. But here, I was never able to catch up with the story. The author seems intent on being as mysterious as possible, which results in a narrative that is confusing for the sake of being confusing. While I liked some of the aesthetics and ideas that were at play, however, I struggled to make sense of far too many scenes, so much so that it hindered my overall reading experience.

We meet Laina, whose brother was shot by a cop. What seems yet another horrific case of racialized police brutality turns out to be something far more bizarre. Not only is Laina's brother revealed to be a werewolf but turns out that there are many other types of monsters living alongside humans. After a viral video reveals this, lots of people ‘lose’ it.

Many of the storylines weren't particularly developed or easy to understand: we have a section follow a cult of sorts, a few bits on a pack of werewolves, another on a ‘dragon’ boy, and a few about Laina and her partner(s). A lot of the time I just struggled to understand how certain subplots fitted in the overarching storyline, as, more often than not, the supernatural element is only hinted at and we don’t always witness it first hand. This just made it harder for me to believe in this particular ‘world’, which, from my perspective, suffered from having a far too-vague world-building. Not only we aren’t given detailed descriptions of these ‘monsters’ but it seemed weird that one viral video would result in people going on to marches against monster 'hate'.

The characters were just as vague as their story, their personalities sidelined in favour of creating a confusing atmosphere. I often got them confused with each other, and some, such as that guy who joins the cult, felt very...unnecessary.

I will say that I appreciated how intersectional this was. The majority of the characters are QPOC, and we get some refreshingly casual lgbtq+ rep (so that we have trans, ace, & queer characters) as well as a (fairly) positive depiction of a polyamorous couple. The monsters are very much a metaphor for minority groups who have been historically persecuted and are still being discriminated against.

But, as much I liked the author’s message (or what i perceived to be their message) I had a hard time reading this novel. Not only was the pacing uneven but scenes that could have been easy to follow were not. The characters play obscure roles in their own stories, and I wish they’d been more fleshed out.
Additionally, we have this sort-of-omniscient narrator who occasionally makes an interjection breaking the flow the narration...and it just didn't work for me. Who was this person? I'm still not 100% sure. Why were they recounting what was happening to these characters? Hell if I know...
All in all, I’m not sure who I would recommend this to. I usually love storylines that aren’t afraid to be, shall we say, ambiguous, but Turnbull takes it to a whole new level. Confusing and surprisingly wearisome No Gods, No Monsters wasn’t quite the urban fantasy read I’d hoped it would be.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,092 reviews588 followers
September 7, 2021
This unusual literary urban fantasy novel is about more than the paranormal ‘monsters’ living hidden in the human world. It’s a metaphor for minorities of all types who want to be seen and heard. The monsters are representative not only of all types of paranormal creatures from shape shifters to witches, seers, vampires and even a dragon and but also of all colours, races and genders.

It’s a difficult book to read if you’re looking for a tightly woven plot. Instead, it’s a patchwork of snapshots loosely tied together by the characters and their stories. There are a lot of characters and I did find it difficult to sort out their relationships and connections until about half way through the book when the plot started to gel. The novel is partly written in first person, by an unknown narrator and partly in third person and also jumps from past to present adding to the complexity of the novel. However, the prose is beautiful and the best way to read it is to immerse yourself in the writing, be patient and let the meaning sneak up on you. It’s also a novel that would benefit from a second reading as I feel there is a lot more to unpack than I appreciated the first time through.

With thanks to Blackstone Publishing and Netgalley for a copy to read
Profile Image for Hannah.
585 reviews1,042 followers
September 14, 2021
My favourite book of the year.

I am so very much in love with this book – enough to feel the need to write my first full-length review in half a year. As is often the case when a book is this custom-made for me, I am having problems divorcing my enjoyment from that fact – but I loved it so very much!

No Gods, No Monsters is literary fiction maquerading as urban fantasy and if there is anything that is my absolute catnip, it is this. The prose is brilliant, the character work perfect, and the structure made me happy. Turnbull does something so very clever with perspective that it made me giddy with joy – I love a clever play on perspective and here it did not only work stylistically but also made perfect sense in-universe which is something that I assume is very hard to pull off.

At its core, this is a story about bigotry – and while I am not always a fan of using fantastical creatures as a stand in for minority groups, here it worked well because Turnbull also grounds his book in real world oppression. His characters casually but intentionally have diverse backgrounds and gender expressions and sexual orientations and they feel as real as possible. The inciting incident is a case of deadly police brutality that ends up revealing to the world that monsters (and gods?) are real and among us. From this point the story spirals outward and inward, jumping from one storyline to the next in every chapter. I loved this. I loved this all the more because I felt I could trust Turnbull to know where he is going and what he wants to achieve. I did not find this book confusing but I found it challenging – it kept me on my toes and it made sure I was paying attention. I found the way Turnbull pulled of the various narrative strands very impressive, especially the way he made me emotionally invested in all of these (to be fair, quite a few strands are sibling stories and these are often my favourite). And while the book is definitely dark, it is not hopeless and there is a core of community and community action running through this that made the book ultimately an optimistic one.

In short, I adored this, I want more people to read this and most of all I want the second book in the series (even though this one does have a satisfying ending!).

Content warnings: police brutality, bigotry, domestic abuse, drug abuse

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,376 reviews2,172 followers
March 27, 2021
You ever feel like there’s a world beneath this one?.... Like we are a speck on some larger thing that we only catch glimpses of.”

Laina’s brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. What seems like police brutality gives us a glimpse that Monsters are real and they want everyone to know. Laina watches the video over and over but still cannot process who or what her brother is. After the video goes viral there is a Monsters March that was televised. What is strange is that a few days later no evidence of the march or video can be found- was the glimpse real? Did everyone experience something they want to forget…and fast?

After the viral video, strange things starts happening. Community of Monsters goes into hiding. Secret society starts recruiting. Conspiracy theory message boards are rife with explanation of what did or didn’t happen. People want to forget that video but there is an increase in disappearance, murders, suicide and a fear that is palatable throughout the world. Something big is going to come next, everyone can feel it.

This is Cadwell Turnbull’s long awaiting sophomore novel and he was right, this is nothing like The Lesson . Turnbull has matured in his writing and you will know it once you start reading this book. This book was truly atmospheric, you could feel the fear of the characters leaping off the page. What I love is how Turnbull is able to write characters that while they are flawed, you cannot help but cheer for them. He spends a lot of time building out his character, to the point where you become invested and immerse in their experience.

This is an urban fantasy novel that goes through multiple point of views, between present and past but truly fast paced. There were some instances where I thought, “a wah gwan yasso?” “who dis again?” “where dis one from yah now?” but overall I was able to follow along and understand what was happening. I do think this book was very ambitious and could have benefitted from a tighter lens- a lot was happening at times and that made it hard to follow along.

I think Turnbull was able to write a fantasy novel that truly captured diverse characters who were not one-dimensional without trying too hard. Representation matters and Turnbull was able to write characters I think a lot of people can see themselves in.

I know this will be a favourite for many!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 56 books7,646 followers
September 17, 2021
I was excited for this as The Lesson is a truly phenomenal SF with a lot to say about colonialism that everyone should read. This one didn't land for me, unfortunately, but in a way that makes me suspect it'll be in other people's best of the year lists.

Basically it's got a gigantic cast and we switch between many many stories and voices and it's never made entirely clear what's actually going on. We get elusive trails of meaning and hints and lots of parts that didn't make an obvious whole, to me at least. If you're all right putting yourself in the hands of a skilled writer and being swept along in a current of impressions and ideas and voices and glimpses, this will be perfect for you. It didn't work for me because I'm a more plot-driven reader, but wouldn't life be boring if we were all the same.
Profile Image for Sylvain Neuvel.
Author 22 books5,038 followers
August 19, 2021
Magic and monsters roam every corner of this page-turner, but the real star is Cadwell Turnbull's breathtaking prose. A perfect hymn to otherness and the beauty of the strange, No Gods, No Monsters is so good it reads like music. Simply masterful.'
Profile Image for Chris.
205 reviews56 followers
September 8, 2021
I sat with this a few days after finishing the book in order to attempt to process it. Unfortunately, that didn't help. The writing here is phenomenal. You really get a sense of his characters and settings because his descriptions are so detailed. It's nice to see such a variety of identities.

While reading this book, I would get confused. The story jumped to various POVs and it seemed like different time frames and I just couldn't keep up. I think a lot of people will love it, but unfortunately this one just wasn't for me and that's a shame.

My appreciation to Blackstone Publishing Cadwell Turnbull, and NetGalley for gifting me a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,185 reviews216 followers
August 7, 2021
No Gods, No Monsters is a book you have to go with the flow on. I loved it, in the end, but I think it's going to be one of those books that polarises readers.

Almost flow of conciousness, almost (initially) a series of linked short stories, rather than a novel, the reader is greeted with the sister of a man shot by police, as she is led to the discovery of the truth behind his death. In this way, Cadwell Turnbull starts as he means to go on, with monsters just another of the many marginalized groups in the world. Different in their own way, but just as human and just as vulnerable to injustice and misunderstanding - just as undeserving of either.

This was a tricky book to get into, I won't lie; the narration moves from person to person without warning, and between perspectives just as abruptly. Even the omniscient narrator turns out to be first person; it's a little jarring in places, but if you're able to get into the flow of it it really does work beautifully. It helps that the writing is gorgeous, and that the characters are easy to connect with - the more you can trust the author to eventually pull back (some of) the curtain, the better time you'll have. The range of diversity in both the monsters and the human characters was just perfection.

This is the first book in a series, and there's a fairly open ending; it matches the story style, and doesn't walk too close to the cliffhanger style, so I'll certainly be back for book two.
Profile Image for Mitticus.
965 reviews209 followers
May 29, 2021
What do we have around here? Apparently monsters have always lived among us, even organized in secret societies (with all the internal struggles that accompany that), and suddenly everything explodes and comes to light. And that is what some want and others do not. The reason for that precise moment we do not know.

I am going to try to organize my ideas, but I want to say that the novel does not present the plot that way so neatly, which is a problem; it is like a pile of threads that you are pulling and pulling trying to untangle the skein, and you find different stamens, and without finding the end of the skein that you were looking for, I must say it. (There is a second book.)

It is a choral novel/ensemble. It has various perspectives of different characters, at different times, and jumps back and forth. The various narrators themselves are not too dense inconvenient, what I did struggle to understand was the perspective of the 'all-knowing' narrator, which is not. He is another character. And it is difficult to me, difficult to make this distinction. Someone may consider it a brilliant, interesting literary device that borders between that 'fourth wall' and what seems to have been perhaps a stream of consciousness, but it definitely does not make it easier to read. As I mentioned in one of my comments, this will probably improve if the novel is read more than once, to understand all these times and perspectives.

The book has a strong level of violence, sexual abuse against children and domestic violence. And its good bit of gore.

I suppose this could count as a kind of allegory about minorities and how in a moment social conflicts erupt, that they are all the same, or something like that. But all this violence and manipulations, without even finding a clear objective, did not end up liking me.

Some real people are mentioned in relation to this story, mainly in relation to cults and secret occult societies that actually exist.

-Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

-L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons

-Marjorie Cameron and Thelema

The fictional part that it puts, reminds me of some famous horror tales.

Me gustó? No.
Cosas interesantes? Sí.

+Digital ARC gently provided by Netgalley and publishers in exchange for an honest review+
Profile Image for Amanda at Bookish Brews.
256 reviews156 followers
February 27, 2021
Read my full review HERE :)

Here is a summary:

No Gods, No Monsters is an incredibly inclusive story about othering, oppression, police violence, connection and how we stay safe and fight back. Though it is heavy at times, and there are many characters to follow, it is absolutely a wonderful work of art.

*I received a copy of this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*
Profile Image for lauren.
73 reviews12 followers
January 7, 2021

Let me just start off by saying that the writing in this book is incredibly beautiful. There is no doubt about that.

Now, I can see fantasy lovers, or even anyone who loves supernatural beings, be SO into this. I could see them eating it up and enjoying and hanging onto every word of this story.

But, unfortunately it just was not for me.

I am not the biggest fan of fantasy to begin with, and I would almost lean this more towards supernatural (which I do enjoy, sometimes). And the synopsis of this book intrigued me, took me in, made me want to hurry up and read the book. That’s why it saddens me that I just did not vibe with it the way I wanted.

As a woman of color I love the inclusion. But my biggest problem I think with the book was the execution of the pov’s. It switched up a lot and went into third and first person pov so frequently and unwarranted that I didn’t really know what was going on, who was speaking, who was what or who. And maybe that was the authors point, in some way I could see why they would do that on purpose. But it just didn’t register with my brain very well.

That being my only complaint, this is not a bad book, the premise is amazing and author’s talent does shine through with each detail. I just simply did not vibe with it, unfortunately.

But, as I said, I do believe others will surely love this and find the story quite riveting!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,240 reviews219 followers
September 26, 2021
A very not-for-me novel that felt like an embodiment of most of what I hate about literary fiction.

The story, such as it is, is a series of inter-linked vignettes with a huge cast of deeply forgettable characters moving forward in time from the revelation of monsters living in our society.

I'm sure the author has a point that he's trying to make, and it's all probably an allegory for maligned minority groups (particularly with the way that the truth about them is suppressed in media), but it's just so confusing that I feel the message is obfuscated beyond my interest.

And when I say confusing, I mean the plot is confusing, the characters are confusing, the structure of the story is confusing and there's no resolution to any of it, and nor do I care about any of the characters.

Easily the worst reading experience of the year so far for me.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,855 reviews1,885 followers
June 12, 2022
FINALIST FOR THE 2022 LOCUS AWARD—BEST FANTASY NOVEL! Winners announced 25 June 2022.




My Review
: I think the worst part of reading this book was realizing that the monsters, the not-villainous villains of the piece, are me, my friends, my lover, all of us Othered by...so many factors.
“I’m sorry to do it this way, but I had to be safe,” Melku explains. “I won’t waste any more time. Our collective’s mission is to support the solidarity movement. Often, that has meant supporting marginalized peoples. Some of you are part of the queer and trans community, like me. Many of the most valuable monsters are also a part of these communities, which is why redefining to include them is so important. In that spirit, I think we should extend our support to monsters since it is likely that they’re already in the movement but have chosen to remain silent.”

A political meeting of anarchists in a collective...votes to include literal monsters...the kind that actually DO eat people...in its aims. This book...its imagination shames me.

I've never, ever once thought, "well, civil rights for werewolves should absolutely be guaranteed."

What is left for me to learn over the remainder of my life never, ever stops expanding. ...Yay...? And before anyone says it, no there are not actually werewolves or any other creatures we call monsters, but there are a LOT of humans I'd unhesitatingly call monsters all over the country where I live. All over the only planet we know of that has life on it. So there's clearly no god, either, because if so they're either weak or malevolent since they can't or won't fix things they broke. The book's title, then, snaps into focus: "NO GODS, NO MASTERS," the anarchist chant goes; now that "monsters" are real and have come out of their socially imposed hiding, it needs refreshing: "NO GODS, NO MONSTERS," or a simple acknowledgment that we are all on this lifeboat in the middle of a deadly environment and had all better get busy saving ourselves and each other from paying the ultimate price. No one above means no one below. And that, somehow, is terrible, bad, threatening...why, exactly? Because monsters are Evil? Because, if no one is In Control, things will be...worse? ("For whom" is left unstated. Obviously things will be worse for the ones who benefit from the way they are now.)

But the truth is, it never turns out that way. Marriage equality didn't turn Society into limp-wristed men in feather boas, or women in plaid shirts and bad haircuts. It resulted in a revolting boom in the wedding industrial complex. A lot of bigots making noise about being asked to bake cakes for people they didn't like much. COVID kills us all (in the USA, a million in two years which is more than the 698,000-plus AIDS has killed in 42), and capitalism couldn't care less about who's zoomin' who as long as the survivors consume consume consume.

The principal problem for me is the story's diffusion of narrative drive among so many characters. I do understand this fits the anarchist genesis of the story. But it plays into a problem that trumps political concerns: How am I supposed to sustain momentum in the read? I was able to make my way through the book but it took me longer than it usually does to finish it...almost a month. For fewer than three hundred pages.

I overcame that issue by remembering this phrase that I've entered into my commonplace book:
As he walks with the crowd, he understands what he had forgotten: that a march is not just a voice against violence and trauma, but also a reminder that even in a cause that is stacked against them, no one is alone.

Remember the Tiananmen Tank Guy? He is the reason governments work so hard to suppress free media; he is the reason many of us bother to protest in whatever ways we can. He stood alone, but crowds of protestors aren't when he appears in our minds' eyes. This is also why crowds become mobs, and why protest is something that deeply disturbs the Powers That Be.

When cops kill innocent people nowadays, we as a society are almost sure there will be protests. But now there is a complicating factor of monsters, creatures we're afraid of and whose means of making a living is violent by their very nature; they are, by the definitions we've all come to understand and possibly even accept, but certainly internalize, unnatural:
Near Ridley, a man yells, “No Gods.”

“No monsters,” the crowd chants back.

The chant is an evolution of an anarchist slogan: “No Gods, No Masters,” the original version meaning no human above. It is a call against hierarchy. Ridley assumes the variation means no human above, no human below, or something like it. A call against hierarchy and discrimination.

Simon-pure anarchist speak. Like being in a steering committee meeting for any politics at the local level organization. It is, in other words, bedrock truth that this story rests on. It is this meticulous inclusiveness by dint of hard-fought local battles that gives me little moments of happy recognition and pleasurable fellow feeling, of not being alone as I face a hostile-to-me world.

Go with Author Turnbull on the hunt for the truth of Power through these many points of view. Power resisted, power obtained, power flouted and abused...there is all the power any one being or group can ever use in the simplest truth of them all: Mystery exerts power in ways nothing else can hope to equal, still less surpass.
Profile Image for Ryan.
270 reviews55 followers
December 16, 2021
Brave. Beautiful. Back end should have been better.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,894 reviews3,112 followers
August 29, 2021
It's worth saying that this isn't really genre fiction. It's literary fiction making use of sci-fantasy & horror genre elements. It's strange and meandering with a huge cast of characters and a maze of plot threads, sometimes pivoting into existential pondering about the nature of reality and choice.

It's the sort of book that the right reader might fall in love with and spend hours teasing apart threads of nuance and meaning. I can see the potential appeal because I feel that way about some books that I read.

For me, there was just too much happening for one book. A character or piece of the plot would catch my interest and then before I could blink we were on to something else. And while I get some pieces of what this book is trying to say, it's inconsistent and often unclear what the intent of a scene or plot element is. It's also the kind of thing that seems more interesting to discuss than it is pleasant to read.

For instance, the titular monsters might be people with magic or werewolves or other mythological human-like beings. And sometimes they are stand-ins/overlap with people from marginalized communities: Black, POC, queer... But there also seem to be shadowy monsters who are themselves taking advantage of and harming others. In hindsight perhaps kids like Dragon are supposed to be indicative of cycles of abuse. It's also clear there's something being said here about police violence, about how we other those we fear, about performative allyship.

All of which I care about and find conceptually interesting. In execution, it feels muddy and needlessly abstruse. I appreciate what the author is trying to do here and the dizzying world he has created, but I didn't necessarily enjoy the reading experience. Hopefully this helps the right readers find the book and gives you some idea of what you're getting. Do note that there are many content warnings including graphic violence, abuse (not graphic), death, grief, drug use etc. I won't get specific, but just know it isn't a light book.

The audio narration is solid, no real complaints there. I received an audio review copy of this book via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kiki.
183 reviews146 followers
November 28, 2022

Nothing ends. It bleeds.

No Gods, No Monsters is a masterwork of speculative fiction, neither "muddy" nor confused but a creation made best for the alert reader ready to meet the unknown and unlooked for with a steady tenderness. It is for the reader ready to leave behind the ambitious fictions tethered to singular heroic figures and timelines. It is for the reader ready to step outside universe and embrace the starry multitudes.

The first chapter opened with a mysterious narrator in a seemingly simple farewell scene that unfolded in atmosphere of suppressed emotions, painful histories and lost futures. As Turnbull built his intricate multidimensional story with its large cast of characters who have to deal with state violence, domestic turmoil, secret societies, the emergence of monsters and other existences more marvellous, more terrible, the writing never lost that emotional core. All the intricately plotted scientific speculation and metaphysical mysteries hung in perfect balance with a character's silent scream of loss, her body wracked with painful tears as she looked up to a semi-estranged loved one's face and recognised her mother.

What most impressed me on a second read was how deeply Turnbull mined the narrative potential of the "universe" both within the story as well as the novel itself. (I can't help but be vague to protect your reading experience as much as possible.)

If this is what comes from Turnbull's focused intentionality with a second novel I cannot capture my excitement for the rest of the Convergence Saga. I am ready for all the other worlds and this one.

APRIL 2022

Five stars because I am honestly tired of you Don't Deserve hos with your plebian "it's confusing" takes. When is the next book? Don't care how, I want it now!
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
457 reviews626 followers
September 20, 2021
This story begins with Laina mourning her brother's death. They were estranged for some time as her brother battled drug addiction which only adds to her guilt. At first it just seems like an act of police brutality though what happened doesn't truly make sense. However she discovers it's not that simple when she receives the missing body cam footage from the officer who shot her brother. It reveals that her brother was a werewolf. She shares the footage online and it goes viral though is scrubbed from the net as if someone is intent on keeping these monsters hidden. Not long after a pack of werewolves transform in the middle of a busy street proving that the footage wasn't just an internet hoax.

There weren't just werewolves; but also dragons, an invisible woman, succouyants, a man who can jump across timelines, secret societies, and much more. We don't just follow the monsters who are trying to adapt to the new normal amid riots and protests, but also some of their allies who are struggling with the new revelations and how they can help. There are characters in this story dealing with grief, sexuality, drug addiction, and other issues.

I'd say my favorite parts of the story were the parts that took place in St. Thomas where readers are painted a vivid picture of every day island life. We get to appearance the feeling of the plane touching down in the airport as Calvin returns home from his time in the US. While he is happy that so much that he's familiar with has remained the same he's struggling with life after his brother's death. Spending time with his niece in an attempt to be a better uncle only exasperates those feelings.

This book excels at building atmosphere without describing every mundane detail so it's easy to sit back and just get lost in the story. I was reading a physical copy alongside the audiobook which has a very easy flowing narration that perfectly fits.

While at times things could be a little confusing the story never stopped being engaging. You have to pay close attention because it also moves at a very fast pace and at times across decades and universes. As I read further I started to see how so many of the character's lives were interconnected. And they all have the common goal of wanting to find a place where they belong and feel loved. There's no big bad all the characters are fighting against but rather we see a look at everyday society which these monsters are very much apart of but also on the outskirts. It's very literary so if literary stories aren't your style proceed with caution but I'm curious to see where book 2 goes.

I received a finished copy for review from Blackstone Publishing
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride).
350 reviews2,941 followers
March 5, 2022
"Monsters existed in the liminal space of half-belief and practical superstition. Even folks who claimed not to believe in God knew not to tempt devils."

No Gods, No Monsters is a series of vignettes highlighting the lives of monsters who have come out of hiding to be witnessed in the light.

A pack of werewolves, a young boy with control of flame, a woman without form, these stories weave in and out and combine only to pull apart again.

This is not a straightforward narrative, and Turnbull doesn't hold your hand.

The writing style was casual in its complexity, grounded despite its fantastical nature, and the premise was incredibly unique.

I must admit I was confused at several points throughout, not the least due to the staggering number of characters we follow throughout the narrative. While I'm still not sure I entirely absorbed this story, I plan to continue with the series.

I've been hooked, even if I'm not exactly sure what's on the other end of the line.

Trigger/Content Warnings: Gun violence, Death, Gore, Addiction, Body horror, Police brutality, Child abuse, Suicide attempt

Hear my thoughts on this book over on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KGFB6BcW0nM

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Profile Image for 2TReads.
733 reviews32 followers
December 4, 2022
My enjoyment and immersion in this book remains the same.

Turnbull knows how to tell a damn good story.

Turnbull is a smooth writer. Whatever tale he is telling just flows so easily from page to page, even when the subject matter is heavy. He ensures that his readers will have an easy time of it, while remaining interested and engaged.

He did it with The Lesson and he has brought this same style to No Gods, No Monsters. As he builds the reveal that monsters are among us, Turnbull is also raising questions around community and family: how they grow and change, what brings them together, what drives them apart, and how the shadowy areas overlap.

The story of No Gods, No Monsters is one of those stories that has moving parts which requires attention and which rewards a reader that sticks it out. With storylines that move forwards and backwards through time and place, expanding the cast of characters, introducing new magics and monsters, and then looping everyone together in some way was just a great reading experience.

I love a book that keeps me puzzled here, clues me in there, and that has heart. Because at the heart of this story is family and finding a place to be safe and to belong. Isn't that what we all want?
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,452 reviews2,319 followers
July 17, 2021
No Gods, No Monsters
(The Convergence Saga #1)
by Cadwell Turnbull

This book is one of the strangest books I have read! That's not bad, I love strange! It just makes it difficult to review and make sense to anyone reading the review. I will try to avoid spoilers, there might be a hint of some but in this book you wouldn't have a clue what I am talking about anyway.

Here goes. Werewolves have decides to come out. Maybe someone is making them? But our gal of the story finds out that her brother is killed, shot by a cop. What the cop's body cam reveals is stunning. She wants to find out what is going on. The video goes viral then disappears.

No monsters, No gods is the protest saying as the marches go through towns. But there several monsters and gods in this book and we meet some of each. Not just werewolves but powerful mages, shifters, and more. Gods that walk with nebulas for eyes. Gods that purr. People that teleport between places and some teleport between time. A boy, that is very much not a boy, and he is kind but used as a weapon.

The story unfolds slowly, one person at a time until they all come together. Then it bounces between places, time, and people's lives. This was the difficult part for me. That and Hugh's life. I really got a bit bored there.

This is a different kind of fantasy book then I have read in a long time. Lots of great things going for it. Other than the above mentioned issues, it was great. It is something I had to concentrate on. Not a book to rush through. A book to soak up, to simmer, to bathe in, and let it baste my brain.

I had to wait a few days to review it to really think it over. I did enjoy it and it was the strangest and oddest book I have read this year but that is certainly not a bad thing.
I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this intriguing book!
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
1,960 reviews2,676 followers
March 5, 2021
3.5 Stars
This was a rather unique novel that provided a wonderfully poignant conversation about marginalization and prejudice. From the premise, I expected this to be a straightforward and simple social commentary on race relations and police brutality in the United States. However, the story ended up being so much more nuanced. I was impressed how this novel provided such an excellent intersectional conversation about these complex issues. 

My favourite aspect of this novel was easily the character work. There was fantastic representation for queer and non white people. All of the people in this book felt flawed in a realistic way. I found myself identifying with several of the characters, even when I had not experienced the same personal struggles.

In terms of pacing, this novel is very slow, focusing on characters over plot. This was technically a piece of urban fantasy with mild horror, but read more like a literary piece of social commentary. I would have liked to learn more about the fantastical elements, but they were in the background of the story. I wished this one had a more narrative drive, yet I still enjoyed the reading experience for the most part. 

I would recommend this one to readers looking for an insightful exploration of the challenges that affect marginalized people in America today.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,844 reviews470 followers
October 2, 2021
Wow! This book is weird....but creepy-cool weird! I loved it!

What would happen if monsters were suddenly and completely real? Myths, legends, strange gods....all those things your parents told you weren't in your closet, under your bed or outside at night.....

It took me awhile to get into this audio book. The story switches from character to character and jumps perspectives without any warning. But that weird vibe of constantly switching directions fits with this story. Once I got into the rhythm of the tale, I was hooked!

There's more to this story than just a monster tale though. It's not hard to see through the supernatural trappings and understand what the author is really getting at.

So creative! So many facets to this book. It's definitely a story that warrants a second listen....and a third! This is the start to a series -- can't wait to find out happens next!

The audio is almost 10 hours long and narrated by Dion Graham. Excellent voice acting -- Graham did a wonderful job! Very entertaining -- and thought provoking -- listening experience!

**I voluntarily listened to a review audiobook from Blackstone Publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,000 reviews796 followers
April 15, 2022
On my blog.

Actual rating 3.5

Rep: Black bi mc, Puerto Rican American sapphic mc, biracial bi ace trans mc, nonbinary side character, Black bi side character, Black side characters

CWs: implied sexual abuse, drug abuse, implied domestic abuse, police brutality, gun violence

Galley provided by publisher

No Gods, No Monsters is an urban fantasy of the fast-paced and unputdownable variety. It throws you in at the deep end and says, hey, you’re going to be so desperate to find out what’s going on, you won’t even put this book down once. It drip feeds you the crumbs of what’s happening in such a way that you’re compelled to just keep going.

Basically, it’s the best kind of book.

Without too many spoilers, No Gods, No Monsters follows a number of POV characters, tracking each of their stories as they slowly come to intertwine. The blurb doesn’t really capture that, to be honest, so it’s a little confusing as you start out. But, as you get into it, you start to see where the plotlines all tie together.

Really, the best thing about this book is its characters. They are the reason that you continue reading even if you find yourself with not really the slightest bit of an idea what’s going on (or, more accurately, why what’s going on is going on). They’re characters you won’t be able to help but find yourself rooting for. Every time the POV switches, you’ll feel there hasn’t been enough of the previous one, sure, but the next one pulls you in just as neatly. It takes skill to juggle multiple POVs like this, and to make them distinctive, and Turnbull shows it in abundance.

It’s also a more understated fantasy, for want of a better word. It’s not about saving the world, or defeating some (named) bad guy. It’s more about what the world (or, the USA, really) does when faced with the knowledge that creatures from horror fiction are in fact real.

I think if there was anything I would criticise about it (and this is a very light criticism), it’s that it was quite… shallow in the worldbuilding. There were a few times where it felt something wasn’t explained very in depth, but there was just some leap of logic you were supposed to have made. And I think that led to the plot being somewhat confusing (not convoluted, but perhaps vaguer than I would have liked), and the ending being a little more like it’s leaving you at the beginning of something rather than the conclusion. Although that may well have been about leaving space for a sequel, I suppose.

However, if you looked at this book and were on the fence about it, or you had never looked at it before now, let me just say it’s one you don’t want to miss out on.
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