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The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper #BookReview

New York City, 1990: When you slip through the cracks, no one is there to catch you. Monique learns that the hard way after her girlfriend Donna vanishes without a trace.

Only after the disappearances of several other impoverished women does Monique hear the rumors. A taloned monster stalks the city’s underground and snatches victims into the dark.

Donna isn’t missing. She was taken.

To save the woman she loves, Monique must descend deeper than the known underground, into a subterranean world of enigmatic cultists and shadowy creatures. But what she finds looms beyond her wildest fears—a darkness that stretches from the dawn of time and across the stars.

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper

Title: The Worm and His Kings | Author: Hailey Piper | Publisher: Off Limits Press | Pub Date: 15/11/2020 | Pages: 116 | ASIN: B08JPC5P6C | Genre: Dark Fantasy/Horror| Language: English | Source: Review Copy from Publisher | Starred Review

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The Worm and His Kings Review

The Worm and His Kings follows Monique’s search for her missing girlfriend. Monique is homeless, struggling to survive. Homeless women are disappearing off the city’s streets, and the only people who seem to notice or care are other homeless people.

From the outset, it seems like Monique has spent most of her young life being invisible. She was invisible to her parents. When she didn’t meet their expectations, they shunned her and cast her out. The only path back to their home would be denying her identity, which is something Monique can’t do. The one person who had accepted her and supported her was Donna, who’s missing, and Monique’s determined to find her.

Monique may not have the best game plan in the world or stellar investigative skills, but this just makes her more relatable and endearing. She’s a young woman who has fought to embrace her identity and live as herself, and those choices have cost her family, security, and (one presumes) different opportunities. Monique does not conform, and she’s cast into the shadows, along with the other people who end up on the streets, forgotten and overlooked.

When she sees a strange creature kidnap another woman, she follows it, convinced this is how she can find Donna. What Monique lacks in investigative skills, she makes up in determination, but what she can’t foresee is the journey ahead of her and the challenges she’ll face.

It could be argued that her story follows a quest structure. She has an agenda. She sets out on her mission. Along the way she meets people who help her and those who try to hinder her, and she navigates challenges as she searches for answers.

However, on a deeper level, Monique takes us into her heart and shows us what it means to be cast aside, to seek belonging and be rejected, to be pressured to conform. She has to fight with every ounce of her being for the right to make her own choices and determine her future. 

The story moved at a brisk pace, offered plenty of surprises along the way, and kept me fully engaged from start to finish. 

As readers, we all bring our own perspectives, history, and knowledge with us when we read, and these factors combine with the story to create a unique experience, unlike the experience another person will have. A review is always one person’s perspective, which is shaped, in part, by them. I don’t know if what I took away from reading The Worm and His Kings was what the author intended, but I do know that Monique and her story stayed with me long after I finished the last page and made me ask some difficult questions. While there’s a great, complete story at the heart of The Worm and His Kings, some things are open to interpretation, and you could spend just as long discussing the potential subtext as you spend reading the text itself. 

Whether you’re looking for a compelling cosmic horror story or a story with something to say about the ills of society, about indifference and bias and how people exploit the vulnerable, you’ll find all that here too. This is one of those books that, for me, works on multiple levels, which is a testament to Hailey Piper’s superb storytelling skills.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads. (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
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