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The Templar Chronicles: Book One

by Jeff Gunhus

Publisher: Seven Guns Press

Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk.

In the first few pages, Jack, the storyteller and main character, warns readers not to read about these real-world monsters that would seem to only exist in fiction. The tone is set—sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy. The day before his 14th birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But when he meets a mysterious woman named Eva, they’re suddenly attacked by mole-creatures. Before the end of the night, he’ll have to save and then fight beside his friends, as they battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliffhangers and surprise reveals. Descended from a monster hunter, Jack has been safe because of a treaty between the humans and the Creach (the term for the collective society of monsters) that forbids killing any youngsters until they turned 14. But his unique upbringing and background made him target number one on his birthday, especially for Ren Lucre, the vampire leader of the Creach. But why is Jack so important among the monster hunters? Who is the last Templar (as they call him)? These questions and others aren’t answered, which could leave frustrated readers wanting more from what could easily, hopefully become a series of books. Emotionally honest Jack’s first-person narration reads like he’s talking directly to you, as when he describes being so paralyzed by fear that he can’t even help his friend. But the young monster hunter is learning how to be a hero: “I realized that bravery wasn’t about not being scared; it was doing the right thing even when you are scared.”

A compelling teenage adventure, despite hitting a few clichés.