Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Bookwyrm's Review of Scattered, Smothered and Chunked by John Hartness

Author: John G. Hartness

Length: 310 Pages/ 10 hrs, 16 mins. (Audio)

Release Date: November 11, 2012/ November 17, 2015

Narrator: Andrew McFerrin

In a crowded Urban Fantasy loaded with clones of the Dresden Files or romance novels with supernatural elements, Bubba the Monster Hunter is a breath of fresh air. Certainly, it bears no resemblance to anything else on the market today. I can't think of anyone else who could pull off a story about a beer swilling, monster shooting good old boy redneck that is still endearing and sympathetic, all without becoming a caricature. It also doesn't hurt he's really good at wrecking monster face. Hartness has also done a great job creating a fantastic supporting cast.

When it absolutely, positively, has to be shot, stabbed, blown up, decapitated, set on fire, defenestrated, disintegrated, banished, impaled, bludgeoned and/or destroyed, you call Bubba. six and half feet tall, north of 300 pounds, the former defensive lineman for his beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs comes from a long line of monster hunters, and has the skills, tools and support necessary to ensure whatever supernatural baddie he's up against is put down with extreme prejudice. He is the Southeast regions official hunter for the Holy Roman Catholic church, meaning he has a priest for a handler, Uncle Father Joe (a running joke, since Joe is Bubba's tech support genius Skeeter's uncle), a tech genius in Skeeter, who keeps Bubba in line as much as a skinny guy can keep a man mountain in check. Whether it be a rash of zombies being raised by a voodoo priest, campers being killed by a supernatural creature which may or may not be a love lorn Rakshasa, a nest of vampires in a ballet troop, a bigfoot out of his territory scaring locals, or a possible chimichanga...err, Chupacabra killing livestock, Bubba is just the guy to handle it, usually with a bunch of rounds from his Desert Eagle .50 Caliber pistol. 

When a new threat calling himself the Messiah has all the supernatural world aching to rise up and take over the world as the apex predators, Bubba has to team with agent Amy Hall of DEMON (Department of Extradimensional Mystical Occult Nuisances, because someone really wanted to name the department DEMON) to try and discover who the messiah is and how they can stop him. The problem is, the Messiah turns out to be a problem left from Bubba's past that he never saw coming, and which he might not be able to defeat.

This is honestly one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series. Bubba is just such a fun character. He could have been written as a total caricature of a good old boy redneck, but instead, underneath all that is an intelligent, clever man, trying to do right by his friends and those he protects. He also has a live and let live policy. If a "monster" isn't hurting people, Bubba feels no need to ensure they take a dirt nap. He only puts down the true monsters. You get the feeling there is more to Bubba than meets the eye. He is very well written, and a fully fleshed out character. His various associates are all well written as well, with the core three of Skeeter, Amy and Uncle Father Joe being given a lot of attention to make sure they resonate with the reader. The villains, some of which are hilarious, and some of which are deadly serious, also get a lot of attention. They all have realistic, for monsters, goals and reasons for their actions, even if it's just the need to feed, because that's their nature. 

The dialogue is snappy, with the banter between Bubba and Skeeter especially good. The plot moves along rapidly, never leaving you feeling as though its lagging. It is also consistent within its universe, the only inconsistency being Bubba's height, which is mentioned throughout the book as six foot three to six. Other than that little hiccup, its very consistent. The setting is well described, and being familiar with the areas he travels in, I can say for a fact its realistically described.

Andrew McFerrin  does a good job voicing the various characters. He nails the southern accent they use, and he brings each character to a life of their own. his Skeeter voice is a particular favorite. His narrative pacing is excellent, and never devolves into a monotone or uneven pacing. All in all, and excellent narration.

I will admit to being an unabashed fan of this series. The later books only build on what this one starts, and I can't recommend it highly enough to any fan of urban fantasy.

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