Monster Hunter

Crown. (Ham Helsing: Bk. 2). Jun. 2022. 240p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780593308950.
Gr 3-7–Ham and his vampire hunting friends take a break to relax at a summer campsite, only to discover a monstrous threat to the children dropped off there. The kids lead sheltered lives, both in terms of mindset and being cushioned with actual pillows. Moyer’s anthropomorphic animals are expressive no matter the mood, and a flashback involving hundreds of vampires falling through the sky is particularly dynamic in execution. All of which makes this story feel like a missed opportunity for being so oddly mean. Punchlines are too often built from cynicism, and characters go past dry humor into a kind of contempt for each other that prevents joy from seeping through. Themes of self-reliance and establishing trust come full circle, but are interrupted by clashing, inconsistent styles of humor.
VERDICT Fiction for young people has no shortage of self-professed “losers” who find their confidence and talent, but this story is more interested in reducing, not building up.

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