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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits (A Book with Magic)


Pro: Everything
Con: I mean, if you don't like violence then...you know. Maybe go read Little Women?

The Bottom Line: This is the American Gods no one needed, but it's the American Gods I wanted.

I have a long history with this book. Sort of. I'd seen it, quite literally, years ago on the shelf – probably when it first came out in 2013. By the time I thought to buy it, it was gone. So I thought to get it from the library. In a nutshell, that turned into such a long, absurd battle that it became a weird sort of I-have-to-get-it-from-the-library-now-simply-based-on-principle thing.

Until about two weeks ago when I realized how dumb the whole thing was and just bought the damn book.

For the record, I am a massive schmuck for waiting this long.

Cason Cole has just recently been freed. Freed from what, he's not entirely sure, because what he thought was a man may not actually be a man, and the thing that freed him was most definitely a bomb. But he's alive, and that's what counts. Now he can finally see his wife and son again.

Except he can't. Because something seriously wrong is going on. Nothing is what it seems and there are some truly messed up people in his way. Even worse? They're not exactly people. They're gods. Goddesses. All of them. And if he ever wants his family back, he's going to have to go through them and it is not going to be easy.

Some writers, when you read it's like swimming in a pool of crystal clear water. It's sleek and bright and magical. With Chuck Wendig? It's like going down to the pond and digging up a handful of silt and mud. It's heavy and thick and it feels great when you squish it between your fingers. I loved it. Every minute of it. Every word of it. I read for hours outside until the sun made me groggy and I was halfway through the book. I read the rest the next day—today, finished a few minutes ago, in fact—until my eyes were dry and yelling at me OH MY GOD, PLEASE STOP. (They still are, by the way, now that I'm writing this).

But really, to go back to my Bottom Line up there, this was the American Gods I wanted. No disrespect to those that love that book, nor any to Neil Gaiman, but that one was not for me. I had to sludge my way through that book hoping something would happen and the exposition would calm down a little. But this? Oh my. This the action didn't stop happening and the dialogue was always on point – especially the character of Frank. That guy had me laughing out loud a few times.

I also love how Wendig drops you right in the middle of something at the beginning and you're just as baffled as Cason. The great part is that it isn't disorienting. Not in an annoying fashion the way some books can be. Everything that's happening is too weird, too interesting to get mad about not knowing things. And you don't really know for quite some time. Why the gods and goddesses are here. Who's doing the killing. Why. And what makes Cason so special. His bit is actually the easiest to guess. I was right (sort of-ish – it's hard to explain). But it's a good time either way.

My biggest thing is that I really want to know what happens to all the divinity after Cason does his final act. I suppose the last option, given that final flutter of wings. Still, I wonder if they'll all be mad at him. Or care. Though I am still curious what happened to some of the elder gods – where the hell did those guys go? Maybe they all went to that final party in American Gods.

I'm all over recommending this. If you need something exciting, visceral, and satisfying, I say go for it. These aren't your typical gods/goddesses – or the occasional typical creature either. It's clear Wendig did a bit of digging about for rogue gods/goddesses that most of us have never heard of, and probably never would have, for that matter. It's a refreshing dip into a world of the wild, weird, and wholly unexpected.

NT

P.S. I 100% had a moment of, "OH MY GOD, PLEASE BE THE SON OF CTHULHU."

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