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AUDIO: Monster Punk Horizon Box Set: Books 1-3 (Audiobook)

AUDIO: Monster Punk Horizon Box Set: Books 1-3 (Audiobook)

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Contains the first three books in the Monster Punk Horizon series.

Listen in your favorite podcast app or in the amazing (and free) BookFunnel app.

About this premium audiobook narrated by Tess Irondale

WANTED: Monster hunters. Practical armor optional.

Pix and Jaz are two girls who just want to hunt monsters, craft armor, and pay off their college loans—but when a colossal new monster falls through the portals in the Dazzling Skies, it’ll take all their skills to survive it.

Their skill levels? Slightly above noob. But when a colossal new monster falls through the portals in the Dazzling Skies, they’ll have to raise their game.

Will Pix and Jaz defeat The Screecher, or will it be Game Over for the Monstrous Continent?

About the Series: Monster Punk Horizon is an exciting new fantasy comedy for fans of the Monster Hunter games and kick-butt ladies fighting monsters for fun and profit! GameLit readers will enjoy the focus on action over stats.

Box set includes the following eBooks:
1.
Monster Punk Horizon
2.
Isekai Skies
3.
Excess

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

"This book made me want to game in this world. The author has an incredible gift for smart, witty names and vivid description. The characters are appealing and carry you through this light, fun adventure with tremendous energy." – Jane Lindskold, New York Times bestselling author

“Plays with planetary ecology as much as Dune ever did … Anyone who enjoys the monster hunter genre of video games should enjoy this.” – Upstream Reviews

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Enjoy a sample from MONSTER PUNK HORIZON BOX SET: BOOKS 1-3

Pix was the sort to over-prepare, and today she was glad she had.

She was already in her best armor, a combination of sturdy bone, fireproof Ignifex hide, and random metal pieces she’d found at the thrift shop, all obscured under a blue tabard because otherwise it looked mismatched and stupid. She hadn’t expected to need such armor today, but she’d only just carved the materials necessary to craft the Ignifex bits and wanted to break it in, and easy survey missions were perfect for that. Even so, she’d still brought two full flasks of Darla’s green bitterale and a selection of nut breads meant to counteract various adverse conditions, along with doubles of other standard kit components like jerky and bandaging for small injuries. She’d sharpened her grappler, recalibrated her podlauncher, outfitted her cloak with camouflaging Mantis Gems, and filled several pockets with charges for the centerpiece of her ensemble—her capacitor blade.

It was about half the size of Jaz’s greatsword, but its primary difference was the cylinder at the base of its blade, loaded with a circuit of mysteric capacitors that would unleash a massive shock of whatever glitter magic she’d loaded. Though it wasn’t as impressive as Jaz’s weapon, it was still made of quality glistiron, and it was the best capacitor blade she could possibly build at this point.

For someone of her experience, it was not a bad kit, but it was still lacking one thing …

“You know, we really should consider hiring some Khatoyants if you’re going to go barreling off after colossal undocumented monsters,” Pix said as she and Jaz traipsed through the jungle. “At the very least for the extra eyes. Also, take off your dragon head. We don’t need to be attracting random Nutpidges with a new monster running about.”

Jaz raspberried and yanked at the mask. Her goofy dragon sock pulled away to reveal a head of dark, sporty shoulder-length hair and skin that was much better suited to the high sun of the jungle than Pix’s pasty mayonnaise tone—but then that was why Pix equipped gems cut to deflect sunlight. Jaz, meanwhile, roamed the jungle in what amounted to monsterskin hot pants and whatever other starter pieces looked interesting at the thrift shop, which put her in a mess of bones, leather, and fur that while equally as ridiculous as Pix’s armor, at least had the good fortune to occur in matching shades of red.

“I’ve got too many college loans to be thinking about Khatoyants,” Jaz retorted.

“If we had Khatoyants looking out for us, we’d bring in more loot that would help us pay off our loans faster,” Pix continued. “Not to mention we’d be less likely to die.”

“If I die, my college loan problem is solved.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Does your dragon line regenerate?”

Nearly every native under the Dazzling Skies had dragon blood somewhere in their ancestry, a consequence of the Elder Dragons being one of the first races to fall from the sky when it had opened. They fell asleep soon afterward, but not before fear of their own extinction led them to reproduce with the other original skybornes (after taking the proper form, of course. Back then, the Elder Dragons frequently spent time in simpler forms for the quaint amusement of it).

The dragon line had still nearly died out, as most of the other races had been genetically incompatible, but fortunately for the dragons, there had been one race that wasn’t. Humans, it turned out, were not only genetically compatible with most other skybornes, but would copulate with literally anything if they were bored or curious enough, as long as it talked and had bulges in interesting places. There hadn’t been many humans in the early days, but that hadn’t stopped them from contributing their bipedal build, general resilience—and, some claimed, their species’ innate luck—to the vast majority of the now-native population. Between magical dragon blood and lucky human blood, most natives were well-equipped for the extreme situations under the Dazzling Skies, but different lines bestowed different benefits.

Including the ability to literally not die.

Jaz looked up in rare thought, as if she’d never pondered her dragon line before.

“Come to think of it … I don’t know,” she said. “Does yours regenerate?”

“No. My dragon ancestry is so diluted by this point that the only thing I get out of it is pointy ears.”

Jaz felt the tips of her ears as if she hadn’t been living with them her entire life.

“Damn. My ears are way pointier than yours.”

My point is,” Pix continued, “you should figure out whether you’re going to come back before you start making escape plans that end with dying. Besides, if you actually die, your family’s going to come after me.”

“You say that as if we’re not likely to die together.”

“The point is to not die at all.” Pix rolled her eyes for the fifth time in as many minutes.

Really, it was astonishing they’d been partners this long.

They’d met on the mainland at Mysteric University, where an abysmally inaccurate roommate pairing algorithm had placed the level-headed, academically-minded Pix with … well, all that was Jaz.

Pix had A Plan. She was going to study Monstrous Ecology with the express intent of researching the monsters and biomes across the Dazzling Seas. Simple.

Jaz had No Plan. She majored in something random because her interests changed every semester anyway, and when she found out Pix was heading to the Monstrous Continent, she figured she’d come too because why not?

Jaz was from an elite family on the mainland who didn’t think well of her becoming a monster hunter when they’d planned for her to join her sisters in the family business. Monsters on the mainland had evolved differently than those of the Monstrous Continent. The fauna here had been roaming without significant civilized influence for centuries. “Monsters” on the mainland, if one could even call them that, had developed alongside advancing society, and these days the two existed in a close, symbiotic relationship.

Where the Monstrous Continent was largely wild and unsettled, the Wondrous Continent had few unexplored corners. Over the centuries, people and their companion monsters had sewn an eclectic blanket of civilization over the land, from the garden of parks and pastel cottages that made up Indigo Town, to the blue-green sprawl of roots, treehouses, and seafront that was Mangrove Beach, to the glowing metropolis of jewel-toned skyscapers that made up Opal City—at the heart of which beat Mysteric University, the headquarters of all monster-related research. The natives and skybornes had worked together to conceive it, of course, but it was all facilitated by the unique powers of the monsters themselves, such that they were inseparable from its success.

Those mainland monsters still needed ways to expend their excess mysteric energy, though, and over the years Jaz’s family had built a sporting empire out of that basic need. Team Red was one of several champion franchises, and Jaz was supposed to be one of her family's monster-training champions.

Problem was, Jaz was absolute dung at anything that involved strategy. Her family had sent her to college hoping she’d develop some skills that would be useful on the sidelines, but she was dung at anything that involved structure, too.

She wore her family name like a straitjacket. And when Pix told her about her plans for the Monstrous Continent, that straitjacket broke.

Some people were not meant to live in organized societies.

Jaspartina Red was one of those people.

She thrived on the unpredictable energy of chaos, and that made her perfectly suited to this world.

Of course, it also meant she regularly brought chaos with her, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Extreme circumstances often led to extreme discoveries, after all, and though Jaz was unbridled, she wasn’t careless. Not completely.

That was what kept Pix with her.

For though Jaz brought her own breed of trouble, she was the kind of person who would merrily go to the Hellpits and back for her friends and somehow bring some demonfey home for drinks afterward so they had drinking buddies for the next time they ended up in said Hellpits.

And a person who could turn demonfey into friends was a truly useful one indeed.

Pix was fairly certain Jaz was after this new monster specifically so she could befriend it.

But even that wasn’t entirely inconvenient.

As they walked, Pix opened her logbook to a clean page in the back and marked it for future use. The pattern bellowed on the harbor’s Skull Organ was clear: observation only, unless the need for a hunt became obvious. After all, in cases like this, there was always a chance that the monster was not innately aggressive, but rather just scared and alarmed at suddenly being in a strange new world. They could decide whether it was truly dangerous after they knew a bit more about it.

Jaz, in front, crouched to examine a set of indentations in the soil: four digits radiated out from the central metacarpal pad like sunbeams cresting the horizon, ending in sharp, deep claw marks.

“Ignifex on the field,” she reported. “The print’s still sharp around the edges, so it’s pretty fresh.”

“Ugh, we so don’t need to deal with an Ignifex today,” Pix sighed, as Jaz put her face to the track and sniffed.

“Smells like he’s amped up his mucus production, too,” she continued. “He’s agitated.”

“We need an agitated Ignifex even less,” Pix groaned.

“Or we could be lucky this new thing wandered into Ignifex territory,” Jaz replied. “Maybe it’s weak to fire and general whompings.”

“When have we ever been that lucky—oh, dung!” Pix exclaimed, for just as she said the operative word, a warbling belch of a roar split the air, and a massive, sinuous shape reared from the shadows.

Or rather, plopped from the shadows. But with an Ignifex, even a plop was the stuff of nightmares and a sudden need for fresh pants.

The Ignifex was most simply described as a salamander, if a salamander was fifteen feet long with muscular, tensile legs that could launch it an equal length; a ripped, red chunky body that could slam nearly any creature into submission with a single blow; and a goofy, goggle-eyed face with a swollen neck-pouch that made one question whether this monster had put on the right head when it left to go to prowl that morning. As if that wasn’t enough, its entire body shone with a thick reddish mucus—and the source of many of the rainforest’s woes. For when the Ignifex felt truly threatened, it clicked a hard plate at the front of its mouth ...

“Don’t let it click!” Pix screeched, and with one fluid, instinctive motion, both hunters snatched their weapons from their holsters—Jaz her beloved greatsword, and Pix her nearly-as-beloved capacitor blade.

Unfortunately, caught off guard and within a foot of the monster’s death plop, they were in no position to stop it.

The monster clacked its bony beak. A tiny spark spat from its mouth—and then flashed across its entire body in an enormous whoomph! of flame.

Jaz and Pix threw their blades up as shields, but that didn’t stop odd flecks of flaming mucus from splattering off the creature and onto their armor. Pix didn’t worry; her Ignifex hide pieces were naturally resistant to the mucus flame. Jaz was not so lucky. She still wore her novice leathers because they were comfy and broken in, and only that—but then Jaz had once cooked a corn dog with her bare hand on a dare and came away with exactly one blister, so fire didn't matter to her dragon line as much as it did to Pix’s.

Both leapt to keep their distance as the Ignifex lunged and rolled, scattering its mucus flames around the underbrush and igniting everything it touched.

But less and less as the minutes passed.

An Ignifex never burned for more than a few minutes. Usually that was all the time it needed to scare off a threat—as long as that threat wasn’t a hunter hoping to cull the population. Ignifex was considered the apex predator of the area closest to Skull Harbor. Thus far lacking a natural predator and prone to setting the forest on fire, it was one of the few monsters actively culled as a genuine threat to the ecosystem—not to mention a source of useful resources and a fair test of a young hunter’s skill.

It took a fairly experienced hunter to bring one down.

Pix and Jaz were just barely experienced enough.

With another irritated warble-roar, the Ignifex rolled off the last of its defensive mucus, and Pix saw her moment. She queued up a glitterblue capacitor—Ignifex hated the chills that water magic unleashed on the body—while Jaz just wound up to chop the heck out of whatever part her blade hit. Her opal would do the rest of the work for her.

They both watched for the Ignifex’s tells—a grunt, a roll, a bumbling crouch. They weren’t fast monsters. In fact, they were rather clumsy, but very often that clumsiness caused them to bumble into a single good hit—and with its fearsome girth, one hit was all an Ignifex needed.

There came the crouch!

The monster sprang for Pix. She jumped out of the way, just in time for Jaz to swing her sword into the creature’s head in a spray of magical blue sparkles.

So the opal chose water magic, too, Pix observed. It didn’t kill the creature—Ignifex skulls were dense, and made fantastic shoulder pauldrons, for that matter—but the heavy impact did addle the beast enough for Pix to leap onto its back and plunge her blade into the red gems that grew along its spine. She squeezed the first trigger branching over her hilt, and at once the cylinder glowed with a great, blinding crack. When the charge was at its brightest, she squeezed the second trigger. The central chamber of her blade radiated pure, glittering blue; a cloud of sparkling magic particles blasted out from the wound, and the Ignifex screeched as if it had just gotten brain freeze all over its body.

“Pix, look out!” Jaz shouted, but Pix knew what she was yelling for. Before she could pull out the blade, the Ignifex rolled.

Everyone knew to look out for that sort of move. The Ignifex liked to lure enemies close with the promise of an easy blow, only to turn their proximity against them with a lazy, vicious belly flop.

But knowing it was coming and successfully avoiding it were two completely separate things. Especially when one's foot was planted on a weakened piece of gem.

The Ignifex lurched, and the crumbling gem on its back shattered under Pix’s heel. But she was Pix, and as such, she was prepared for this, too.

She twisted midair, jammed the point of her capacitor blade into the ground, and then pulled her final, special trigger. Her blade split down the middle, revealing a glowing spellglass rod, and with another flick of her second trigger, it unleashed a blinding beam of blue light.

The combo wasted one of her charges, but it also blew her backward, out of the Ignifex’s reach, and she landed and slid to a solid, practiced stop.

She’d discovered that move completely by accident in her first week of hunting, then practiced it over months at the training grounds, and as excessive as it was, it had come in handy more than once.

The Ignifex paused at the end of its roll, confused that it hadn’t felt a satisfying, crunchy squish, and now its goggled eyes looked in Pix’s general direction as if reconsidering the life choices that led it to attack this clever creature.

Can we get it to run? Pix wondered.

Or would have wondered, if she hadn’t been interrupted by a brain-shattering screech.

Protected by their Earworms, she and Jaz didn’t hear its full terror, but the Ignifex did, and it yowled as if the sound had reached straight into its little walnut brain and pureed it into a nice, smooth spread that would go well on some toasted brown bread.

Pix rolled out of the Ignifex’s path and rejoined Jaz, just as another shadow descended over the trees—and sent a sharp, barbed whip of an arm straight through the Ignifex’s skull.

The Ignifex didn’t even cry out. It crumpled like a sad pile of rejected sausage meat, the apex predator of the Skull Harbor Jungle reduced to nothing with a single snik!

“Told you it wasn’t a vegetarian,” Jaz whispered through her Earworms.

“All the more reason to hide!” Pix spat.

At that, the two hunters scrambled for cover. Even someone as freewheeling as Jaz knew, scared or not, a creature that could take out an Ignifex with one blow was serious business.

Both snatched their cloaks from their kits and flung them over their heads as they waited for it to land, better to obscure themselves for observation and to increase their likelihood of not joining the new monster’s kebab.

Pix had mostly equipped Mantis Gems because she had a ton of them and didn’t own any of the really good defensive gems yet, but of all the things she was glad to have packed today, she was particularly glad for these. Most cloaks were at least minimally good for hiding, but once she fastened the two gems in her neck clasp together, her entire image wavered until the details of her form were obscured, as if in a heat haze. No lapidary had yet found a cut that could render full camouflage from a Mantis Gem, but this was good enough to fool most monster eyes.

Now safely hidden, Pix nestled behind a large fern and opened her book to her marked page, ready to record once the monster landed.

But it didn’t.

In fact the next time they heard it screech, it was deeper into the jungle and far enough away that it must have forgotten its kill nearly as soon as it was made.

“It’s not killing for food,” Pix said.

“And that was no accident,” Jaz echoed, separating the gems on her own neck clasp. “You can’t spear an Ignifex brain by accident.”

Pix nodded, and then pulled a little flare gun from her kit and fired three red bursts into the air. Soon after, the resonant notes of the Harbor’s Skull Organ blared out over the jungle, the new tune relaying new orders: This monster is dangerous. Initiate hunt.

“We need to research it before we even have a chance of bringing it down,” Pix said, standing and returning her items to her kit. “Wait—what are you doing?”

“Getting my pauldron,” Jaz replied. She’d brought out her carving knife and had begun to slice through the monster’s skin with a practiced hand that had done so many times before. “No point in letting this big boy go to waste. Plus I’m sure we’ll be able to find a fire station that’ll buy the fireproof leather off us. Not to mention all the stuff we can use the fat for.”

“We don’t have time!” Pix objected.

“You want to leave him for the Waspas?” Jaz retorted.

“You know, if we had Khatoyants, they could do the carving for us while we continued the hunt.”

Another screech went up in the distance. Likely another meaningless kill.

“Fine,” Jaz huffed, then put away her carving knife and unrolled a little red flag from her pack, sewn with the insignia of the Dragon Pig Pirates. She tied it around one of the dead monster’s horns, then rigged a small trap of stink bombs so that anyone who moved it would get a malodorous surprise.

Trap set, she stood back to admire her work with a smug smile.

Pix rolled her eyes, and the two set off.

The screeching creature never landed, but despite the lack of tracks, it wasn’t hard to follow. Persistent screeches aside, it left a trail of punctured corpses, mostly Ignifex, all dead by no effort at all.

The latest hung from a mess of thick vines as if caught there mid-leap and showed no signs of struggle, just a single bloody jab through the skull and a more-goggled-than-usual face frozen dead, mid-confusion.

“It’s only killing apex predators,” Pix said. “Could be asserting dominance.”

“Ugh. What’s it going to do when it figures out we’re the actual apex predators?” Jaz groaned.

Pix didn’t want to think about that.

“All the more reason to pursue it,” she said. She tried to sound bold, but the truth was, she didn’t want to think about what would happen when they caught up with it, either.

There were already dangerous monsters in this world, of course—and she and Jaz hadn’t even faced most of them yet—but inevitably someone had, and there were always veteran hunters who had hunted native monsters so frequently they found even the mysterious eldritch variants predictable.

But skyborne monsters like this one, with no connection to this natural world ...

Not even a legendary hunter like the Madmiral would know where to start.