After the success of his 2019 debut The Lesson, speculative fiction author Cadwell Turnbull has a timely new fantasy novel on the way. It’s titled No Gods, No Monsters, and though it won’t be out until next spring, Gizmodo has an excerpt to share as well as a first look at the cover.
Here’s a brief intro:
One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.
As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organisation with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.
At the centre is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?
The world will soon find out.
Here’s the cover, designed by Kathryn G. English, followed by an excerpt from Cadwell Turnbull’s No Gods, No Monsters. And yes…there are werewolves.
“What is this about?” Ridley asks as Laina sits him down in the living room. The television is already on, the sound low. Ridley takes one look at the screen and stops asking. The video has been playing periodically for at least an hour and will likely play on every channel for many days to come.
Ridley turns to watch her, his mouth a wordless question, and stares at the screen again. The sun is beginning to rise, and a littlest bit of early morning light cuts through the window behind the television. She hears footsteps in the apartment above, and people walking down the halls, knocking on doors. Her cell phone buzzes on the coffee table. She imagines the whole world like this: footsteps, knocks on doors, buzzing phones, minds being blown apart. Ridley watches, his hand to his mouth.
“I don’t understand,” the cop says again, as he’s said every time she watches the video, and the several times she watched it when she posted it to streaming sites. She was being thorough in case some black hand might act quickly to take the video down. Within twenty minutes, the clip is on all the social media sites. Within twenty-five minutes, it is trending everywhere.
The body cam reveals her naked brother lying facedown on the pavement, dead beyond recall, gone forever. Ridley stutters out words only he can understand. He is heading down his own tunnel now, entering his own cavern at the end of it, feeling himself expand, and Laina will not interrupt.
Upstairs, someone makes a noise, muffled through layers of walls, and something crashes loudly. In the hall, footsteps quicken. Outside, a car screeches to a halt. The neighbourhood is an egg cracking open.
What will come next. They will try to deny this video, discredit it. She can’t control that. She has done her part.
“Who leaked it?” Ridley asks her. He is shaking, struggling to keep himself together.
She doesn’t need to say it. Already, he is watching her face, reading the truth clearly written there.
“Babe, they’ll come for you.”
“Who will?” she asks.
Sweating, Ridley glances around the room as if people were hiding in the walls. This is the only answer he’s capable of offering.
Don’t worry, Laina wants to say. I didn’t use my personal accounts. No one knows who I am. But even as she thinks the words, she knows that she could be terribly wrong. She has kicked something whose contours she can’t begin to imagine. Perhaps she has miscalculated completely. Perhaps this is all a game happening above her head and she is the sacrifice.
“Pack some bags,” she says.
As Ridley rushes to the bedroom, she listens to people yelling outside. Now the noises are too much; she can’t track it all. She hears Ridley pull a large suitcase down from the closet. Should they even be wasting time with suitcases and clothes? She pictures men in dark clothes approaching the apartment building. It might be too late already.
“Just keep watching the television,” says the voice, this time right in her ear.
Breaking News flashes on the television, and then another video comes on, this one an aerial shot. A helicopter? No, too close to the ground. Maybe a drone? The video is very clear, crisp in a way hers is not. Something like relief fills her when she sees, with absolute clarity, a pack of large animals forming a line all the way across what Laina knows to be MA 28 North connecting to Interstate 93 South. Is it strange to feel relief at something that terrified her only hours before? But even with the shock of everything, Laina understands that this can only be good for her. It means she is not alone, that it will be much harder for anyone to discredit her brother’s death. The line of animals, wolflike now that she can see clearly, stand a few feet apart. She counts seven in all, blocking traffic in both directions. Lincoln was not alone, either. He had family.
Ridley rolls out a large suitcase and stands next to Laina, saying nothing, all the noise of outside now inconsequential compared to the image before their eyes.
A wolf howls, and the rest join in, the sound sustained and ghostly like wind through hollowed bones. They all begin to rise on their hind legs, and even from this distance it is clear to Laina just how massive they are. As they stand, their bodies begin to shrink, their fur pulling in, heads compressing down into something more compact. Within a matter of moments, they’ve transformed, and now a line of seven naked men and women, of different hues and body types, stand across the highway. Ridley makes a quiet, muffled sound, part groan, part sharp inhalation. But Laina keeps silent, her breath and body held tight.
The video cuts out in response to the sudden appearance of the naked men and women. But even though Laina has met Rebecca only once, she recognises her immediately, standing at the centre of the line, in a position of power, fierce eyes aimed straight at the camera.
Laina surprises herself by smiling.
From No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull. Used with the permission of the publisher, Blackstone Publishing. Copyright ©2021 by Cadwell Turnbull.
Cadwell Turnbull’s No Gods, No Monsters will be out September 7, 2021; you can pre-order a copy here.