Buddy Reads & Rants: The Worm and His Kings (Jonny Pongratz and Iseult Murphy)

Hello Blogging World!


I’m Jonny, scaredy cat of all things sewer and underground passages. Ew, germs and cold slimy things!


Hi, I’m Iseult, a somewhat worm like creature of unknowable evil, but without the power to travel through alternate dimensions.

This buddy read and rant is for The Worm and His Kings (The Worm and His Kings #1) by Hailey Piper.



New York City, 1990: When you slip through the cracks, no one is there to catch you. Monique learns that the hard way after her girlfriend Donna vanishes without a trace.

Only after the disappearances of several other impoverished women does Monique hear the rumors. A taloned monster stalks the city’s underground and snatches victims into the dark.

Donna isn’t missing. She was taken.

To save the woman she loves, Monique must descend deeper than the known underground, into a subterranean world of enigmatic cultists and shadowy creatures. But what she finds looms beyond her wildest fears—a darkness that stretches from the dawn of time and across the stars.



***Brief disclosure***

Jonny is an Amazon affiliate and earn a tiny commission for purchases made through the Amazon links in this post. It’s a great way to help him keep things running on his blog if you’re already intrigued enough to make a purchase. 


***CAUTION: Spoilers Ahead***


Buddy Read Book Rant:


I have finished!

I think the grey maiden and her friends looked like the skeksis from the Dark Crystal. In fact, I was reminded a lot of the Dark Crystal at the end of this book.

What did you think?


I felt kinda meh about the whole thing. Think I’m gonna give it a three. I just couldn’t quite vibe with it as much as I wanted to. I can see the likeness of the skeksis and the birdlike creatures in this, but I still wasn’t able to grasp everything.


I didn’t find it confusing, and I thought it was well written, but I found the plot very thin and everything a bit repetitive and boring.


Yeah, I kind of wanted a bit more of a linear plot with more substance to it. I felt like it would go on tangents about some of the cosmic horror elements and that would irk me because I was already confused by it and wanted to focus on what Monique was doing and what was happening in the moment.


Yes, I’m with you. I quite liked the Skeksis and singing the shard back together, I mean piercing reality, but i thought it was obvious from the start Monique would be the bride. I found the search for Donna repetitive when I didn’t know who either she nor Monique were for most of the time. There was certainly a nightmarish quality, which I thought would be built upon, but instead it seemed less interesting the longer it lasted.


I actually liked the birdlike creatures too, especially figuring out their true identities. Oh, and don’t forget their special noise, “Oooh!” The singing was a nice touch too. Yeah, I wasn’t all that shocked by the events that happened the longer it went on, so it kind of lost its appeal after a while.


I kept thinking of this


I enjoyed Benny King The Cannibal King so I was disappointed that this book didn’t work for me. I think 3 stars is fair.


Haha! Great little clip.

Have you read any other cosmic horror stories before? I’ve only read one other. It’s called Quiet Places by Jasper Bark, but I loved it. I think it all depends on the execution.


I’ve read other cosmic horror. Quiet Places was good. I find it a bit predictable as a genre. You know it’s always going to end badly. The fun part is how inventive the journey (well, that’s what it is for me). The horror aspect of some weird unknowable cosmic monster, that you haven’t a chance against, killing you doesn’t scare me, but I like when the characters are tortured by weird things while they try to escape. The Nic Cage movie “Color Out of Space” really worked for me because of that.


Yeah, usually it’s not good news haha. I mean, if Cthulhu is coming the odds are stacked against you. I agree. It’s all about the journey and what makes it unique. With Quiet Places I kind of fell in love with the little town and all the weird happenings and creatures about.

Oh I think Color Out of Space was on TV a while back and I saw some of it, but I had no idea what it was. I’ve gotta watch that!

I will say, at least we did get some of what we were looking for, which was creature horror. I just wanted more of the creature horror and action.


The first half of Quiet Places absolutely blew me away. The town, the people, the cat! It was so tragic and creepy and awful. I felt the second half was a bit rushed and I was disappointed how things were resolved because of that. Loved the story and plot and characters, just wish it had been fleshed out more.

You should watch Color Out of Space! It’s great fun!

I did love the bird creatures in Worm King, and the idea wormholes have worms in them, but I didn’t find either idea disturbing, unsettling or frightening. To be honest, I found Monique’s suffering from her surgery the most upsetting thing in the book. The Grey Maiden intrigued me, but in a cuddly muppety way. I liked that Monique was loyal and a fighter, but apart from her sufferings before the book started, she didn’t really do anything or suffer on her journey. Everything seemed to go easy for her, which made it obvious she was wanted, but made the story unsatisfying because there was no rise of conflict or any failure. In the end she becomes the worm and destroys everything, which again was unsatisfying because her whole journey went very smoothly. Maybe I missed the point.


Glad we agree on Quiet Places. I’ll have to reread it sometime to see how I feel about the ending. It’s been a super long time lol.

Consider it done! Me and the boyfriend are always looking for more movies, especially weird scary ones.

Right, the worm concept just didn’t seem necessarily frightening. Oh yes, that was definitely the most troubling thing. Monique’s recollections of her trauma were so horrible! But good point, that was in the past and not presently happening in the book. She does see a lot of suffering but doesn’t suffer much herself at all. Yeah, the ending kind of irked me too. Like that’s not a good solution Monique! I did think it was good to get to know this author, but next time I think I’ll pick something of hers that seems more of my typical kind of read.

What did you think of the sewer/underground theme? It’s always been a very unnerving topic for me. Just thinking about an entire ecosystem or even world underneath us kinda freaks me out.


I love stories set in tunnels and underground places. There is something so intriguing, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and frightening, like The Phantom of the Opera. The New York tunnel system is always fertile ground for a story, and I’ve seen lots of movies and read lots of books that uses moving through the tunnels and sewers to great effect.

I’d hate to travel through a sewer.

I thought Monique’s homelessness was very well done, and the description of how she came to be in that situation was realistic and heartbreaking. The disappearances of the homeless echoed a tragic truth. So few people notice when someone living rough disappears, or even cares.

I was confused about the professor and his friend that Monique meets. Were they just other missing people or was there a deeper meaning that I missed.


Right! They’re so alien and disturbing and usually a lot of fun. I haven’t read too many stories set in sewers that I can recall, but Gaiman’s Neverwhere was one that introduced me to the concept.

I can only imagine how dirty and gross a sewer would be today. Blech! I’m not even that big on naturey kinds of things above ground, so I think I would have an absolute fit or just queen out the whole time, haha! Maybe if I wore a hazmat suit? Nah, probably not even then.

Yeah, I think that the element of homelessness and Monique’s trauma (and that of the trans and LGBT community) was very strong. And events like this still happen today. It’s truly heartbreaking.

You know, I was a bit confused about that too. It seemed really coincidental that the woman was there at the right time, though I did enjoy Monique not being on her own for a while. It kept things moving along a bit faster. If there’s a deeper meaning, it was lost on me.


Yes, there was lots of realistic trauma and the cosmic horror paled in comparison. I’d much rather hang out with the Grey Maiden and her friends than a lot of the people Monique has encountered in her life.

Good point. It was great for Monique to have someone to talk to. It’s really difficult having a character on their own all the time.

I love Neverwhere! I love the idea of magical markets and kingdoms below ground. I think it’s so deeply buried in the human psyche, like Shamanic journeys, or the access to the land of the fae through holes in the ground in Irish folklore, that the below ground world and its creatures were more magical and fantastical to me than horrific. Do you think we were supposed to fear Monique’s journey into the underworld?


I agree. The real trauma was more terrifying than the cosmic horror was. In this case, I think humans were the real monsters.

Yeah, Monique had a tendency to internalize a lot, and that could slow things down if she was remembering a lot of painful memories.

Neverwhere was actually my first Gaiman read, and I’ve read a lot more of his books after that. Yeah, below ground worlds tend to portray more of a fantasy theme. I think the author’s intention was to make us fear this underworld, but it felt more dark fantasy to me than horror.


I agree. Great points.

Neverwhere was my first Gaiman read too!

Yes, it definitely felt dark fantasy to me too. I love dark fantasy, and I wanted to learn more about the creatures.

I love books with layers, but I felt the symbolism became too prominent in this book, especially near the end. It devalued a lot of the action because I felt it was a stand in for something else, rather than having additional meaning. Did the symbolism increase or hamper your reading experience?


Wow, small world!

I know there’s a sequel that came out earlier this year. Maybe it explores these strange creatures in more detail?

I like books with layers too, but I feel like sometimes the symbolism was just too much. I wasn’t 100% sure what the metaphor was in all instances, and I kind of just wanted to get back to what was happening in the present.


Exactly! Sometimes I just wanted to concentrate on what was happening and not worry about what it meant!

This has been a wonderful discussion, Jonny. There certainly is a lot in this book, and it has given us a lot to talk about.


Yeah, I think if the balance was tweaked a little bit here and there this could’ve been phenomenal. The author is definitely talented.

Totally! Thanks for doing this with me, and I look forward to more scary reads as Halloween looms!


Yes, we are getting into spooky season. We need to celebrate!

Thank you, Jonny. I love our buddy reads and this was a great read and rant.


Thanks so much for doing this with me again!


That’s A Wrap!

Thanks for joining us on our buddy read and rant of The Worm and His Kings! We had a lot of fun, and hope you did too! We will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, why not check out Iseult and Jonny’s other fun buddy reads?

Buddy Read & Rant: The Forgotten Island

Buddy Read & Rant: Stolen Tongues

Buddy Read & Rant: Parachute

Buddy Read & Rant: A Door Into Evermoor

Buddy Read & Rant: The Haunting of Trinity House

Buddy Read & Rant: Dark Waters

Buddy Read & Rant: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Buddy Read & Rant: Until Summer Comes Around

Buddy Read & Rant: The Upheaval

Buddy Read & Rant: Thornhill




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