The story in book four of the “He Who Fights with Monsters” series is at a slower pace than the first three in the series. A good half or more deals with Jason’s homecoming to Earth and the obvious issue that entails. Dealing with family who thought he was dead and shady government departments trying to work out if he’s friend or foe. Dealing with his return and how his family would cope was always going to be the case. This would have been a rather dull affair without the conspiracy side of things.
As it stands, though, even though there’s a lot to like about the family side, the worldwide conspiracy hiding the existence of magic from the muggles, er people, at large is fun and believable. Earth, it seems, is not as magically barren as he was led to believe.
One common thing I noticed in the various reviews I’ve seen of this instalment is how many Americans hate what this has become. If you’ve been paying attention at all to the first three books, the main character Jason is very anti-government. Jason bashes on most attempts by government agencies, regardless of their nation, to control him and the existence of magic. The USA being a chief instigator of this in the book is obviously going to cop it more than anyone. So I guess maybe take this as a warning if that isn’t something you enjoy, but by now it shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise.
If you’ve enjoyed the flat-out fantasy monster battles of past books, then you’ll find this one a tad disappointing. There’s an overwhelming lack of fighting actual monsters in this one. Sure, there are one or two encounters, but the main “monsters” of this are government overstep, casual racism, and his personal demons.
One thing I found quite enjoyable was how much this book really drives home just how “Aussie” Jason is, with his larrikin persona shining brightly through even with the cold, hard depths of a deeply disturbed mind hiding beneath.
Narration again by Heath Miller was great, although a high frequency of background noises gave a bit of an unpolished feel. A bit more time spent in post-production could have made this a much cleaner experience.
Overall, I’ll be continuing with the series. If book five doesn’t pick up the pace, though, I might start reconsidering if I’ll continue with it. Time will tell, so keep an eye out for the review of the next book for more.