Kit Cox, also known in Steampunk circles as Major Jack Union, writes about monsters in the steam era. Where his first book, How to Bag a Jabberwock: A Practical Guide to Monster Hunting, is more of a how-to for aspiring protectors of the Crown, The Monster Hunter is a novel about a young boy coming of age amidst the threat of these monsters.
Benjamin Jackson Gaul is half-British and half-Indian, but doesn’t fit in to either place. His only real friend is his mother, whom he loses at the tender age of 12. She protects him from a mysterious creature in the tea field, but fails despite her obvious, though unexpected, fighting skills. He passes a year in silence, wracked with guilt and questions that his storybooks cannot answer. If he will ever get to the bottom of his mother’s death, he will need to learn more than he can in Ceylon. So, when offered a chance to move to England he jumps on it.
After almost a year on the sailing ship the Hallowe’en, he arrives in 1885 at the Garden Orphanage in Kent, where a strange illness is affecting the children. With the help of a Gypsy girl and armed with books and good intentions, he tries to solve the mystery. To his surprise, he also learns more about his mother’s fate along the way. The most important book he possesses is the journal of Major Jack Union, the older brother of his caretaker Nanny Belle, which paves Ben’s way to becoming the next monster hunter.
What I Thought of The Monster Hunter
For an adult, this book won’t take up much more than one long afternoon, but it will be a fun afternoon! At 200 pages and written in simple language, it is best described as a young adult book. This is in no way meant to be a slight, I love YA fiction, and I am happy to find more of it to add to my Steampunk Book list. The opening chapter is extremely well done and the image of monster attack is very strong in my mind and helps compel the reader onward to find answers with the protagonist. I loved accompanying Ben on his journey across the sea and into the wide world that words and books can open a mind to. There are two books so far in the Adventures of Benjamin Gaul series.
Have you ever read anything in the Union-verse created by Kit Cox? I’d love to hear what you think!