Térata does All The Things, drowns them in Red Bull, lights them on fire and throws them off a cliff.
The title Térata is from the Greek meaning “Monsters,” but this is more than just a monster story. It crosses horror with science fiction and fantasy. But above all, Térata is full-throttle action-adventure.
From the Publisher
Hidden in the folds of the world we know is a world of monsters. Forced into discretion by the rules that govern reality, these powerful beings fight, love, and die in the shadows around us. This is their story.
The sheer number of characters and names in Térata would give the Silmarillion a run for its money. Many of the characters are shifters, meaning they have two types of physical bodies – a monster form and a human form – which gives some characters two names.
Many of the characters are POV characters too. With so many characters going after (or running away from) so many things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Those wanting a single headspace will want to look elsewhere.
The monsters in Térata have super powers on the level of demigods. They are super-fast. And super strong. And they heal like Wolverine on crack. Sniper headshots and severed limbs hardly slow them down. I appreciated the quick fight scenes, and the fact that characters did occasionally die, which lent real danger to every fight.
Plot / Story
Térata is a great example of Speculative Fiction, that is, “What happens when we cross fantasy, science fiction, horror, thriller and action-adventure?” The book lists under Occult at Amazon, but it is much more than that – nanotech, DNA manipulation, tarot cards, alternate realities and talking swords that absorb souls. All the things are here.
As I mentioned, the story has so much going on, it never lags. All the interconnected plotlines reminded me of Game Of Thrones, a large and busy world. But the writing always makes it clear what the current character is doing. Goals are clearly asserted and how-did-we-get-here is clearly explained, so you’ll always know what people are doing and why.
Térata contains more doors ripped open and limbs torn off than all the stories I’ve ever read put together. Characters ripped doors off of houses, cars and even safes because it was faster than opening them conventionally. They ripped their own limbs off to reduce their body mass. (And shouldn’t one really do that in the shower? Makes cleanup a snap!) The levels of speed and aggression even during the non-fighting scenes lent a fantastic, comic book feel to the story.
Térata is mostly set in modern-day Minnesota. From Minnehaha Park to downtown Minneapolis to the banks of the Mississippi River, Michael gets the details right, using just enough description without slowing the story.
Some of the story takes place in an alternate reality realm called the Confluence. I was really interested in this place and it played a major part in the story, but it didn’t spend enough time or detail there. I definitely wanted more of the alternate reality and how it was different than the real world.
Language / Voice
Michael’s writing is snappy and clean. Térata almost reads like a graphic novel, with quick, broad strokes.
The sense of humor is superb, the timing of the jokes breaks the tension perfectly. And a broad range of pop culture references abounds. Much of the dialog contains a clever snarkiness and biting wit.