Monster in My Closet – R.L. Naquin

One-word review: fun.

To expand upon this: What a ridiculous amount of fun! explain: This is the tale of Zoey, an unusual lady who with her friend Sarah plans weddings for those lucky enough to find them. It doesn’t really signify that Sarah is single and Zoey is divorced from the extremely clingy Brad (who just will not go away) – they’re good at what they do.

As the description says, one night Zoey is wakened by the sound of someone in her house, and discovers her intruder is not entirely a stranger. Strange, yes; stranger, no. It’s the monster who scared the daylights out of her by peering from her closet when she was five. He didn’t mean to frighten her, Maurice tells her now; it was all a misunderstanding. Now – sit-sit-sit! – he makes her coffee and the most amazing muffins and begins to try to help her understand that her ability to know what those around her are feeling isn’t, as she’s always assumed, is not something everyone can do.

Things become stranger for her from there. Maurice has come to her for help because he knows she shares the ability her mother had, the talent for helping others that made Zoey’s mother a heroine among fairies. And so begins Zoey’s rise as her mother’s successor, and before long she is rubbing elbows with brownies, fairies, and a small dragon… Not to mention the local herbalist and his atypical pet. And the paramedic who isn’t exactly what he seems.

Oh – and the succubus. Forgetting the succubus would be for Zoey hazardous to her health. Not just for Zoey – for all the women in her life. She has, apparently, due to her abilities, a special flavor, a savor unlike ordinary mortals. Some, less subtle demons, would just visit Zoey and suck her dry – but not this one. He’s cleverer than that – that would be killing the egg-laying goose. Come to find out, every woman on whom she has – intentionally or un- – used her gift carries away a tinge of that flavor of hers, and the connoisseur succubus is tracking down these women and consuming them. And it’s up to Zoey to stop him.

I love that Zoey never realized how unique she is – she has gone her whole life assuming everyone can tell what those around them are feeling. How else can people communicate? Once she works her way through the reality (that’s why people don’t communicate very well), she has to rethink almost everything she does every day. She has always been able to soothe ruffled feathers, and find a way to make people happier, and to tell if someone was lying to her or had her best interests at heart. And now she has to make up her mind about whether this is as it should be, or does she have the right to manipulate others’ emotions, now that she knows what she’s doing?

The characters are lovely, the whole concept is just a hoot, and I am very, very happy that this will be a series. (Number two in March! Hurrah.)

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