Kirsten Reviews: Mind Over Monster by Jennifer Harlow

, by Kt Clapsadl

Mind Over Monsters by Jennifer Harlow 
F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation #1

Beatrice Alexander is no ordinary schoolteacher--she can move objects with her mind, an embarrassing skill she hasn't yet mastered or embraced. After nearly killing her brother by accident, she joins the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, the Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals. This top-secret branch of the FBI combats ghosts, ghouls, and other monsters threatening humanity.

With her teammates--among them a handsome former-detective werewolf and an annoying Don Juan vampire who's dead-set on seducing her--Beatrice investigates her first case. Disgustingly dismembered bodies have turned up, bearing bite marks of the undead. Someone--or something--is raising a horde of hideous, bloodthirsty zombies. Armed with Bette, her trusty machete, Beatrice takes on the master of the flesh-devouring corpses, who's guarding a horrifying secret . . .

Featuring a team of monster hunters with unique paranormal abilities, the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad Investigation series combines humor, suspense, and supernatural crime-fighting.

Jennifer Harlow’s Mind Over Monsters is the first book in the F.R.E.A.K.S Squad Investigation series. As a telekinetic, or somebody who can move objects with her mind, Beatrice Alexander likes to keep her head down. SHe is working as a teacher when a student is in the path of a car. Beatrice lifts the car out of the way, and she attracts the notice of the government’s F.R.E.A.K.S Squad (Federal Response to Extra-Sensory and Kindred Supernaturals). They offer her a job, and since her life isn’t going to be the same now that people know what she can do, Beatrice accepts. Little does Beatrice know that her first assignment will be dealing with zombies.

As far as protagonists go, Beatrice is fun, mostly without angst, and enjoys desserts. It does seem that she takes a little too easily to her new job. I would have preferred more of the story dealing with her having to reconcile the loss of her old life, or feeling that she has found her place, but with some more insight into what really drives her.

Since Beatrice is the newbie in the group, she ends up as part of a love triangle. The genre is so full of these romantic entanglements that it’s practically part of a checklist, and the device is getting old. Even less shocking is the fact that Beatrice’s suitors are Oliver, a vampire, and Will, a werewolf. In general, the rest of Beatrice’s team feel as if they are placeholders for roles, and need to be fleshed out much more for them to be at all interesting.

The predictability of the romance isn’t helped by the fact that the zombies are a weak adversary. The walking dead have to be frightening in order to be effective, and these were weak zombies. If it was played for humor rather than horror it would have worked better.

Given that this is the first book in the series, and the author’s first novel, they are still finding their voice, and the next installment will hopefully see an evolution in their plotting, further character development, as well as some new angles on standard horror tropes.

(Received a copy from the author for review)


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