Book Review: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highley

  • Review: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter
  • Series: Matt Archer #1
  • Author: Kendra C. Highley
  • No of Pages: 299
  • Release Date: August 18th 2012 by CreateSpace


Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?


Nova Reylin with Kendra C. Highley

Kendra! Thank you so much for doing this interview for My Seryniti! I have to say this story sounds fun and intriguing!

How did Monster Hunter start for you? Image, Idea, Dream?

I got the idea from an offhand comment an instructor made at a writing conference I attended in early 2009–“Boys don’t want to learn to love misunderstood vampires. They want to kick vampire butt!”  At the time, my son was 8 and that really resonated with me. Monster Hunter was born out of a short story I wrote for him, thinking he would enjoy reading about a teen who “kicked monster butt.” This is totally awesome! And what a great reason to write!

Did you have any growing pains with this novel?

I do with every novel, but this one had its own special growing pains. I had just gotten deeply involved with a writing workshop and was building a critique group while working on Monster Hunter. Learning to accept and use critique on top of drafting a novel was a challenging process, but so worth it in the end.

 I noticed you like paranormal, as do I, how do you do research for this genre? 

For me, the military research was more difficult. I love paranormal, and have been a fan of creature-flicks, fantasy novels and science fiction since I was very young. My imagination is full of strange beasts, so writing the monsters isn’t as hard as some of the real-world things. I mean, I probably have an FBI file after researching military transport and weaponry.

 How would you most like readers to respond to Monster Hunter?

I want them to have fun. The series gets older/darker as we go along (and Matt ages…), so this first book is all about the adventure.

 Do you have a message you try to convey when writing a story?

Not always. In Monster Hunter, I tried to keep it light, but the underlying theme is sometimes you’re chosen to do things that are difficult, and how you respond to that is as important as the outcome.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (excellent) and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (swoon!).   Ohhh! Can we say add to TBR!?I think we can!

Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

I think most of my beta readers would whisper, “Hemmingway,” because I’m a very minimalist writer. I have to be reminded, over and over, to add more scenery or description to scenes. But as far as writers I admire…I’d say Laurie Halse-Anderson, Laini Talyor, John Green, Kathleen Duey and Suzanne Collins.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I’m typically being run ragged by my kids. Otherwise, I’m at the day job. If I happen to get a spare few minutes, I love to read.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

It’s funny–I’ve always loved writing (I have a B.A. in English Lit) and reading, but it wasn’t until the last five years or so that I really knuckled down and got serious about writing a full-length novel. That’s when I discovered writing is one of those things that, once the dam is open, the flood won’t stop.

How did you break into the industry?

After spending a lot of time on my writers’ workshop, I queried Matt to agents. I was signed, and went the traditional route for a while. Most of the feedback from the Big 6 publishing houses was very good, but either they had something similar already on the catalog, wanted it to be “older,” or wanted it to be “younger.” Eventually I decided I wanted the creative control, so I self-published.

What is your writing style? Do you create outlines for your writing or do you just sit and type away?

I’m a total pantser. I’ll have high-level outlines, then I’ll write the first three chapters and the last two or three, so I know where I’m going. After that, it’s up to the characters to tell me how the story goes.

Do you listen to music while writing?

Absolutely.  I play an instrument, and I’ve loved listening to music my whole life. It’s difficult for me to write without it. I can, but I feel more grounded when I have Matt’s playlist going.

What is your next project? What have you been working on recently?

I just released a companion to story to Monster Hunter.  Matt Archer: Monster Summer is a tale about Matt’s adventures in Australia. I’m also working on final edits for MA 2: Blade’s Edge. It should come out in early 2013.

Now for the silly questions! Hang on to your hat! 🙂

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Watching Dancing with the Stars with my daughter. It’s cheesy, but it’s so much fun. I have to admit this guilty pleasure as well. I’ve watched it so much that my hubby can walk into the room and say, oh they are doing a Rumba? 😉 

What is your favorite word?

In writing? I use “but” a lot. Too much, actually. In conversation? I love “creeptastic,” which isn’t even a real word. LOVE this! And teenagers today will probably use it now! 

What is your least favorite word?

Behoove. It just sounds…weird.

Do you talk to your characters?

Um…yes. In the car, primarily.

What sound do you love?

My kids yelling, “Mom!” when I come home from work.

What sound do you hate?

The sound of the cats’ water dish (it’s one of those fountain-things) gurgling, telling us they are low on water. It’s especially annoying at 3 am…which is almost always when it happens.  Next to that? The low-battery beep on the smoke detector– at 3 am.

What’s your favorite time of year?

I love, love, love autumn.  The summers in Texas aren’t for the faint of heart, so the change in the weather is like a blessing. I also enjoy college football, so that’s an added bonus.

Do you have a favorite monster?

Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. I want to adopt him. Seriously–he’s just adorable. Oh my god… I think you are my new BFF! ❤ 

I read you like chocolate, what’s your favorite chocolate treat?

It took me a while to decide on this one, because I like it all. For “everyday” chocolate, dark chocolate M&Ms are probably my favorite. For “special occasion” chocolate, my grandma’s chocolate meringue pie.

I’m also a runner (ISH), what do you do to train? Do you run year round?

I do run year round now, but I didn’t until just recently. I struggle with asthma, so a year ago I decided I wanted to challenge myself into running a full mile without slowing to a walk or stopping.  I completed that goal last March (at a blistering 12:30 pace!). My next goal was to run a sub-12 minute mile by my 40th birthday, which was this past August. I made it with 6 days to spare. Now my goal is an 11-minute mile. I’m down to 11: 25, but it’ll take a while to shave off the rest of that time. To train, I try to focus on speed/distance twice a week, doing regular cardio and weights the rest of the week.  I also love running because it’s a great time to think through plot issues! This is fabulous!! What a great role model you are! Good luck on the time. I’m just starting out so I’ll have to see what I can get mine to. 😀

Since Firefly is no longer around do you watch Castle to support Nathan Fillion? It’s good! I’m just saying!

I so need to start watching Castle! I have the first few seasons lined up in my Netflix queue, so hopefully I’ll find some time to catch up this winter.

On a side note, I love your website! Especially since it looks like there may be a spider hanging in the upper left hand corner! YAY!   

Oh, thank you!  I love my spider. He’s one of my favorite elements.  The designer is also supposed to add blinky-monster-eyes at some point, too.  Hee!

Thank you so much for taking the time to indulge my curiosity!

Amazing Giveaway!!!

  • Nook Simple Touch + $25 B&N Gift Certificate + Paperback Copy of Matt Archer: Monster Hunter
  • 3 $10 Amazon Gift eCard

Rafflecopter entry here!

My thoughts:

This was a really fun read! Matt is just your average kid, average build, average height, actually he is a bit short even so when he and his uncle go out camping and he finds and kills a monster he doesn’t know what to think! And then his Uncle tells him that the knife he was wielding chose him to be a Monster Hunter at 14!! And this is just the first few pages! You get to know Mike and Matt a bit more as the story progresses of course but right there, chapter one and I was in it for the long haul.

The plot is really interesting. What makes it even more fun and dastardly is that Matt is only 14 but he has the courage of a mountain lion. He doesn’t only have to learn how to fight monsters out in the world, he also has to fight them in his own school, and we’re not talking the grizzly bear type. We’re talking the type that thinks smaller kids are easy to push around. But he does have friends that have his back and that’s the best part of this story, the characters. There’s also a huge military presence that adds a lot of substance to the plot.

Mike is his Uncle and that guy is a real stand up kind of person, willing to do anything for his family which includes helping Matt figure out his way in this new world. Will is probably my favorite though, he and Matt go through some very interesting things together. They kill monsters, save damsels in distress and have mysterious growth spurts. Interesting, unique and I loved reading about them.

This ended on a note that says, maybe sequel, maybe not but as Kendra kindly told us above there is definitely a sequel of Matt spending his time in Australia. And there’s also the companion to this, Matt Archer: Monster Summer, so if you enjoy young adult horror this will be right up your alley!

Matt Archer: Monster Hunter Excerpt:

Before I had a chance to dig out some marshmallows for s’mores, the air turned sharp and the wind gusted cold into the campfire, sending up sparks. Uncle Mike rose to his feet, with an intense, alert expression I’d never seen before—like he could eat a brick and enjoy the crunch.

Without looking at me, he said, “Weather’s changing; best to get inside the tent, where it’s warmer.”

With nothing else to do, we packed it in for the night. Mike didn’t allow me to bring a cell phone or anything else electronic on our trips. I could’ve played cards or something, but being outside always made me tired and I went to sleep early because, yes, I’m just that exciting. On the plus side, I had the craziest dream: Ella Mitchell ditched her boyfriend for me. That’s not weird—that’s plain, old wishful thinking. The weird part was that she hopped up on stage during assembly and stole the microphone from Principal Stevens to do it. Then I ran down the aisle to thunderous applause, swept her in my arms and….

“Get back!” Mike yelled.

I sat up in surprise to see shadows moving across the tent’s walls. One shadow was Mike’s, distorted in the bright moonlight. The other…heck if I knew what it was. Bulky, taller than Mike by a long shot, it grunted and snorted like an angry pig. Was it a bear? I rubbed my eyes and squinted. No, definitely not a bear. The thing was much too big and shuffled along on two legs.

When it roared, it didn’t sound like any animal I’d ever heard, but more like a bulldozer’s engine. Every hair on my scalp stood up. Whatever this thing was, it wasn’t natural.

About the author:

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job.
Kendra believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.
More information about the Matt Archer universe, works in progress and the nature of the Higgs Boson* can be found at
(*Yeah…not really. We’ll let the scientists handle that part.)

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  1. Thanks for letting me stop by–the interview was so much fun, and it sounds like we have a number of things in common! : )

    1. It does! I can’t wait to read about Matt Archer in Australia. I’m dying for my niece and nephew to be old enough to read this!

  2. […] Matt Archer: Monster Hunter by Kendra C. Highley (Book Review) […]

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