Sunday, October 18, 2009

Merricks and Red Caps and Shades, Oh My!

This time of year, everyone is posting lists of their favorite vampires, weres, and other creatures that go bump in the night. Over the last few years, though, I’ve noticed a trend of bigger, badder monsters popping up in mainstream fiction. So, I thought I’d mix things up with a list of interesting monsters you’re probably missing out on this Samhain.

Monster: The Many-Mouthed Thing
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Book: Darkfever
Lowdown: This series involves the Fae, which are broken down into two divisions: Seelie and Unseelie. Though neither can be considered the “good” side, the Unseelie are the more overt monsters. The Many-Mouthed Thing is an Unseelie with “myriad leechlike mouths, dozens of eyes, and overdeveloped sex organs.”

Monster: Tattoo Demons
Author: Marjorie M. Liu
Book: The Iron Hunt, Darkness Calls
Lowdown: The series follows Maxine Kiss, a demon hunter who is protected by five demons who live in her flesh during the day. When the sun goes down, they peel away from her and regain their true forms and fight the forces of darkness by her side. Zee, Aaz, and Raw have “skin the color of soot smeared with silver and mercury, lean and warm…with spindly arms and bristling spines of razor scales…claws instead of fingers and toes. Their feet are vaguely human, as are their rakish faces angular to the point of pain.” Dek and Mal have “long, serpentine bodies … no legs and only two arms – vestigial limbs good for little more than grasping my ears. Heads shaped like hyenas, with smiles to match. Best little bodyguards on earth.” Favorite snacks: Teddy bears, Snickers bars (wrapper and all), and whatever’s handy in the nearest toolbox.

Monster: Red Caps
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Book: Seduced by Moonlight
Lowdown: In her Meredeth Gentry series, Hamilton introduces all sorts of horrific and beautiful Fae, not the least of which are the Red Caps. She describes them as the “shock troops of the Unseelie, only stronger, bigger, and more uniformly vicious.” They tower at 8 to 10-feet of pure, yet graceful muscle, covered in skin of yellowed paper or dust. Their eyes are “oblongs of red, as if they looked out at the world through fresh blood.” On their heads are scarlet caps that drizzle blood that is reabsorbed by their skin.

Monster: Shades
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Book: Darkfever and throughout the Fever series
Lowdown: Unseelie that can’t be seen by humans. Looks like a huge oily patch of shadow that can only exist in the dark. Attacks without warning and drains the life out of anything that has a spark to give. Leaves only “indigestible” materials behind (clothes, jewelry, “dehydrated human matter” that looks like paper husks).

Monster: Fomorii
Author: Cheyenne McCray
Book: Forbidden Magic
Lowdown: This series has been described as “Charmed meets Kim Harrison’s witch series,” and begins with the Fomorii as the big bad guys to beat. Former gods of the sea, they’ve been banished to an Underworld for everyone’s safety. Their looks vary in terms of colors, and numbers of arms/legs/and other appendages. Universally, they’re ugly, blood thirsty, with needle-like teeth, tough hides, and dragging knuckles. They smell like rotting fish, but that goes away when they take over just about any body, drain it of life, and cover their tracks.

Monster: Merrick
Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Book: Primal Instincts Series
Lowdown: Unlike more traditional takes on the shapeshifter theme, Byrd introduces a “collection of non-human races referred to as 'ancient clans’” two of which are the Merrick and Casus. Merricks look human, and for all intents and purposes are human, as the characters that introduce the concept have no idea what they really are. Their Merrick lies dormant until a Casus comes into the world. Male and female Merricks take different forms: expanded face, flattened nose, sharpened teeth and talons, and increased muscle for the men; fangs and increased strength for women. They need to feed on blood during sex, and only come out to play when threatened by a Casus.

Monster: Casus
Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Book: Primal Instincts Series
Lowdown: Evil beings who once lived on Earth but were banished to a holding ground in another dimension for munching on people too often. They’re shapeshifters of a sort who can possess the human bodies of people with some Casus blood in their lineage (after they kill them of course). When one passes into our dimension, they awaken a Merrick that has been dormant in some unsuspecting person and battle ensues. Casus are sadistic, love torture and eating people alive. They don't all take the same shape, but generally have muzzles, sharp teeth, and claws in their natural form; in human form look like whomever they possess, but with ice-blue eyes.

Monster: Monstruo
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Book: Obsidian Butterfly
Lowdown: LKH is the queen of monster-building. Still not quite sure what this monster is. She writes: “It was a woman’s face with one eye gone stiff and dry like some kind of mummy. Face after face rose brown and withered like a string of monstrous beads, strung together with pieces of body, arms, legs, and thick black thread like gigantic stitches holding it all together, holding the magic inside. It rose up and up until it towered against the ceiling, curving like a giant snake to stare down at me. I estimated forty heads, more, before I lost count, or lost the heart to count anymore.” Um, eww.

1 comment:

  1. It is always good to see new creations within the monster categories is literature. As much as we like vampires and werewolves, new ideas aren't bad. The Frankenstein Monster only became frightening because Mary Shelly decided to make him up. Without her new type of monster terrorizing mankind, we might not see as much variety in horror novels these days.