Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The United States of Monsters

Go To
The monsters are voters now.

The United States of Monsters is a Dark Fantasy Urban Fantasy series by C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus which takes place in The Unmasqued World. It is an Affectionate Parody of the genre verging on horror comedy where everyone is a smartass familiar with monster tropes and movies but serious crimes occur.

Generally, the books all take place in Michigan either around Detroit (though not the Detroit of the real world but a Las Vegas/Dubai-esque vampire paradise) or a fictional small town called Bright Falls. The heroes tend to be working class monsters who do not follow the typical tropes of their genre.

The books in the series so far are:

This series contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Very common in the setting as supernaturals possess incredible strength, speed, and supernatural abilities. Women are expected to hold their own as much as any other member of their violent societies.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Urban Fantasy in general with every common trope frequently mocked or subverted but still squarely in the genre.
  • Abusive Parents: The series has numerous examples of this ranging from the O'Henry family as a whole to shapechanger culture in general. The Timmons family takes it to a whole other level with their attempts at Offing the Offspring. The Doe family is one of the rare exceptions to the rule.
  • All Myths Are True: In An American Weredeer in Michigan, Jane explains human imagination influences the Spirit World and spirits often take the appearance of things from their mythology, be they gods, demons, or monsters. This means if something doesn't exist it's only a matter of time before it becomes real and can potentially enter the world.
  • Alternate History: The primary setting revolves around how much of an impact there would be if supernatural monsters not only exist but are no longer within the masquerade? The results would include the vampires being this world's equivalent to A-List celebrities.
  • Animorphism: A very common ability among vampires, fairies, and shifters. Some mages are capable of transforming as well.
  • Antihero: Jane is a lot more ruthless and brutal than you'd expect from a woman barely into adulthood and the least threatening of shapechanger races.
  • Author Appeal: As a C.T. Phipps novel, it's all about the snappy one-liners and pop culture references with the occasional bit of social commentary.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: There are no families which aren't, in part because supernaturals are all subject to ancient traditions and brutal dictatorships from the time they were living in secret.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Due to all the characters being monsters, they tend to be dark and morally compromised. Jane is willing to work with criminals, the FBI, and monsters to get worse people. Peter Stone is a vampire who has the job of cleaning up after the rest of his kind even if it means protecting monsters.
  • Broken Masquerade: The setting takes place in a world that is set after The Reveal in 2008. This is when the vampires revealed themselves to the world and all other supernaturals followed suit. Averted in the Red Room trilogy since that is set in the years immediately leading up to the Reveal.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Peter Stone is a convenience store clerk and vampire enforcer.
    • Jane is a young untrained Snark Knight psychic weredeer who is, nevertheless, the only person who seems to be able to solve any murders in the town.
    • Alex Timmons lives this trope as he's an FBI Agent Kung-Fu Wizard with mental issues who makes pacts with spirits embodying fictional characters. He owns a functional lightsaber wand and practices Venusian Aikido.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: A Downplayed Trope example that vampires have a phobia about this and generally stay in during rainstorms. They also prefer baths to showers.
  • Defector from Decadence: The entire vampire race decided Even Evil Has Standards and turned against the Elder Gods before exterminating their followers.
    • Renaud tried to do this and become so much worse.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The vampires bailed out the United States during the 2008 Financial Crisis, only to get the government to give them special privileges and protection which angers the public as they are perceived as receiving special treatment despite having broken the law. Worse, the vampires aren't as rich or necessary to the country as they appear but play on appearances to continue their frauds.
    • Vampirism is also used as a metaphor for racism and homosexuality, with the Broken Aesop element played for laughs as the characters doing so are frequently talking to vampires who actually are black or homosexual and find the comparison insulting.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: For the most part averted. Peter is a nice enough guy but still capable of killing on a dime anyone who gets in his way. Some are mentioned in the backstory like Melissa's brother, however. Gerard Pasteur is closer to this, but even he has some creepy qualities like an affection for teenage girls.
  • Cool Guns: The Merlin Gun is forged from Excalibur and contains the soul of an angel.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Magical abilities allowed many supernaturals to become incredibly rich before it became public. While illegal now, many maintain their fortunes from this time and don't hesitate to use their influence to benefit themselbves.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Zigzagged as there's apparently Cthulhu-esque horrors underneath the world but they may be the Nephilim and this is a world with God. Thoth also says God may be real but he's a very small god in a very big universe.
  • Council of Vampires:
    • The Council of Ancients rules the Vampire Nation. There's also a lesser City Council in New Detroit.
    • Werewolves rule over the other shapeshifters by tradition, though they have their own leaders as well.
  • Creepy Crows: These hang around several of the locations in the setting, signifying the presence of spirits.
  • Dhampyr: These exist in the setting but are considered less than their parents. Dhampyr are treated as property of their vampire parents and often traded or given as gifts. They have lesser versions of vampire powers and their blood is extra delicious, leading many to be eaten by their own family.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Played with. It turns out legends of dragons in The Unmasqued World are werecrocodiles who have the power to breathe fire naturally. Some of them also can control their size, becoming huge creatures as well.
  • Dracula: Apparently came up with the plan to convince humanity vampires are harmless.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Elder Gods are this, being horrors from another dimension sleeping under the world.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Vampires suffer from this, and apparently look at humans and other supernaturals with contempt. This is a case of Gray-and-Gray Morality, as both vampires and humans commit terrible crimes and neither side has a moral high ground.
    • Shapeshifters hate vampires and have a Fantastic Caste System among themselves.
    • Averted with magic users who seem to get along fine with everyone. Played straight in that they used to be the ones who were the most prejudiced as they were behind the House that kept supernaturals hidden from the public under threat of death.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Virtually every kind of monsters, supernatural being, myth, and legend are true. Lampshaded in the Red Room books where it's stated that this is due to spirits in the Spirit World taking on the form of supernaturals that humans think up. If something doesn't exist before it becomes a legend, it eventually will.
  • Fully-Embraced Fiend: Averted. Most vampires seem to hold to some sort of standards to stay sane but there's a small number who become complete monsters.
  • Fur Against Fang:
    • Inverted in that they're, essentially, the same race — shapechangers sometimes turn into vampires when they die. A vampire's child with a human is also likely to be a shapechanger.
    • Played completely straight among shifters in Bright Falls, as it's only in Detroit that shifters "lower" themselves to serving the undead.
  • Gothic Punk: The setting is a Lighter and Softer take on this subject as the protagonists are all various kinds of monsters dealing with institutional racism, classicism, and bigotry in addition to conflicts with demons as well as other monsters. The big difference is the protagonists usually manage to come out on top.
  • Hemo Erotic: The bite is incredibly sexual when done with humans or other vampires. Not so much with animals (Thank God) or blood bags (ditto).
  • Holy Burns Evil: All vampires suffer from this, the point hearing Jesus, God, Buddha, or Muhammed's name causes them distress. So, really, it's more Holy Annoys Evil. Renaud and his brood are also immune.
  • Horror Hunger: The vampires of this world possess a pronounced one.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Averted with Peter who genuinely loves Thoth but is seriously distressed with how manipulative, controlling, ruthless he is. Also, how Thoth won't use his millions to solve his money problems.
  • I Love You, Vampire Son: Thoth has this case for Peter and it becomes doubly so when you find out Peter's Thoth's Replacement Goldfish for his dead son.
  • Hunter of Monsters: This is apparently a common profession in the United States of America since the Bailout.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The Bite is apparently very sexual and causes most humans to experience something much better than an orgasm (which also frequently happens during it as well).
  • Lesbian Vampire: Played with as apparently all vampires are bisexual after a certain point but younger vampires are uncomfortable with this.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Seems to be a common thing that happens to Ancients but not all of them.
  • Lovecraft Lite: The Elder Gods are ancient fallen angels that live sleeping under the Earth as gigantic monsters. They're worshiped by evil cults and humans are constantly trying to bring them back to life. They can still be killed, though, if you have the right spells or magical patron.
  • Missing Reflection: Vampires lose their reflection when they become Old Ones.
  • Monster Progenitor: Lamia was the first vampire in this world and remains active. She was apparently a human who worshiped the Elder Gods (possibly Nephilim).
  • Must Be Invited: If vampires are not and just break into a house then they can't use your powers against someone.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Vampires equate blood with sex and sex with blood so all of them eventually become bisexual/pansexual. They also polyamorous and keep harems of mortals for feeding purposes, at least the rich and powerful ones.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Averted. While some details are different, the vampires of Straight Outta Fangton possess a lot of traditional powers and weaknesses of the undead. They even have obscure ones like a vulnerability to counting sesame seeds. The only thing which doesn't work is garlic and they actually have a vulnerable to verbena instead.
  • No-Sell: Most Old Ones gain this ability to the majority of vampire weaknesses.
  • Police Are Useless: Either from corruption or the fact they're ill-equipped to deal with the supernatural.
  • The Power of Blood: Human blood makes a vampire stronger than animal blood, which can't sustain vampires indefinitely anyway.
  • Punny Name: Apparently this is an actual power of weredeers as they're said to be forced to make them whenever possible. Jane notes it sounds like superstition to her and only makes a few herself but it's a theme in their local businesses like the Deerlightful Dinner.
  • Psychic Powers: All shapechangers get one in addition to their ability to shift forms.
  • Quirky Town: Comes with the town being an EXPY of Twin Peaks.
  • The Renfield: Vampires call these Bloodsworn (or Bloodslaves). Humans who drink vampire blood can be mind-controlled by the vampires whose blood they've drunk. David serves as this for Peter.
  • Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: They can drink animal blood for a time but need human blood in order to survive. They go into an unthinking homicidal fury when they're deprived of blood for too long. They tend to have the same personalities they did in life but vampire society is corrupt and ruthless with an additional factor that they don't have the same aversion to killing they had in life (but can intellectually be against it or force themselves to feel guilt). They get most of the traditional weaknesses (crosses, fire, holy water, decapitation, and staking) but need to develop their powers like a skill. Vampires are not inherently more sexy than they were in life, though vampires prefer to rebirth sexy people for obvious reasons.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Any conversation between Jane and Lucien tends to turn into this.
  • Spirit World: Exists alongside the material world and is affected by human dreams as well as prayers. Spirits interact with human beings regularly but are only able to enter reality through summoning or special places like Bright Falls, Michigan. It's stated worlds of fiction are real in this place and characters from them exist within.
  • Stronger with Age: A pivotal point of the setting as the Old Ones rule Young Bloods autocratically while the Ancient Ones do the same to the Old Ones.
  • Theme Naming: A particular problem among weredeer as Jane Doe's parents are Judy and John with many other 'J' names in their family. Weredeer also like deer puns in their businesses with one (jokingly) suggested funeral home name being the Deerly Departed.
  • The 'Verse: With Straight Outta Fangton.
  • The Unmasqued World: In 2008, vampires came out of hiding to bail the United States out of its financial crisis (implied to have used massive fraud to make this possible) which brought out other supernaturals as a matter of course. While vampires have their own cities to control and live by their own laws, other supernaturals have far less in the way of protections and many states make it legal to kill them if one feels threatened.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Played with and taken to the 11 at once. Vampires were apparently so rich they could bailout a bankrupt United States. It's also why they have so much power and clout in the country. It's subverted when it's revealed this was a massive fraud and they've been scrambling ever since to keep it secret while they rebuilt their fortunes. Also, only a small number of vampires are rich with only the top 1% having all their money.
  • Vampire's Harem: Vampires are practically required to have harems. This is due to the fact that it is better to drink lightly from humans regularly than drain humans completely if you're trying to live as part of regular society. The Kiss of the Vampire is so sexual (and frequently accompanies sex) that these harems are usually literal. In addition, vampires are described as almost all practicing Polygamy and tend to have multiple marriages to each other.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: Parodied as Peter Stone is most definitely not but Thoth most definitely is. Played straight with the Kiss of the Vampire being better than sex and turning even the most tepid sex becoming mind-blowing.
  • Vampire Hunter: A very common profession since the Bailout. They are often supported by churches as well as private charities.
  • Vampire Monarch: Voivodes are the rulers of cities, states, and other territories.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Vampires own whole casinos in this universe and the Las Vegas-like New Detroit.
  • Vampire Variety Pack: Since the undead of the series were designed by a tabletop game writer so they are a complicated necrology indeed.
    • Youngbloods are the weakest of vampires and designed to reflect vampires that have a lot of weaknesses (verbena, silver, holy items, stakes, sunlight) as well as an almost feral submission to their bloodthirst. They are also usually the slaves of their creators. They are very strong and fast, though.
    • Old Ones are vampires like Count Dracula and wield powers like shapechanging or psychic abilities. Death Is Cheap for them as well with only another Old One or Ancient One able to kill them (or special weapons like the Merlin Gun).
    • The Ancient Ones Looks Like Orlok (or Medusa) and are ancient debased things that lose most of their desire to do anything but wield fantastic powers. They spend most of their time sleeping or living in ruins or they could easily take over the world.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: A very common thing in the world as many humans hate and fear the supernatural. These are theoretically punishable like any other murder but many states make it very easy to get away with it.
  • Vegetarian Vampire: Peter starts out as one before moving on.
  • Villain of Another Story: An organization called the Star Chamber is repeatedly stated to be a dangerous threat to supernaturals from within the government, but they never actually become a prime threat to the characters we follow.
  • Weakened by the Light: Young vampires are killed or lose their powers in sunlight, depending on how old they are. Older vampires simply dislike it.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Vampires are almost irresistibly compelled to count sesame seeds on hamburger buns (or in general). Even they find this to be an incredibly stupid weakness.
    • Weredeer love making puns. This is considered to be an actual in-universe trait of them.
  • World of Snark: Almost everyone in this setting is a smart ass of one sort or another.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Monster Hunters have this sort of reputation with the public as some side with monsters while others side with the hunters.

Alternative Title(s): United States Of Monsters