Unclean Spirits by Chuck Wendig (Gods & Monsters book 1)


Published by Abaddon Books

3 stars


The force of nature that is Chuck Wendig returns with an original urban fantasy novel, creating a brand new series for Abaddon Books.

Five years ago, it all went wrong for Cason Cole. He lost his wife and son, lost everything, and was bound into service to a man who chews up human lives and spits them out, a predator who holds nothing dear and respects no law. Now, as the man he both loves and hates lies dying at his feet, the sounds of the explosion still ringing in his ears, Cason is finally free. The gods and goddesses are real. A polytheistic pantheon—a tangle of divine hierarchies—once kept the world at an arm’s length, warring with one another for mankind’s belief and devotion. It was a grim and bloody balance, but a balance just the same. When one god triumphed, driving all other gods out of Heaven, it was back to the bad old days: cults and sycophants, and the terrible retribution the gods visit on those who spite them. None of which is going to stop Cason from getting back what’s his…

This story involves one of my favourite tropes – the gods have been dragged down to ground level and are now acting out their dramas on earth. Karissa Laurel did this in her Norse Chronicles series and it made me feel all warm inside.

This book didn’t make me feel quite so warm inside, it’s more action than character driven (character driven plots are my jam) and feels very much like the beginning of a series rather than a strong book in its own right. I suspect that the next book is going to be where the story comes into its own.

That said, the dialogue in this book is very witty and the humour as twisted as you could possibly ask for. Gods are blown up by hand-crafted incendiary devices and there’s a really pissed off unicorn being held captive somewhere – if it’s first rate divine action and violence you’ve hit the jackpot!

Cason, the main character, finds himself trapped between the real world and the manipulations of the gods. He’s a bit lacking in the personality front, but he keeps busy with his revenge plans against the gods who have stolen everything from him.

The gods are a mishmash of all the different pantheons, though with a particular focus on Native American and Greek. This includes some of their accepted backstories with a few modern day quirks, which is always fun! I would have preferred a little bit more mythology to give it a stronger flavour,  but there was enough there to fill in the blanks if you’re not familiar with their mythologies.

All in all, this book wasn’t a great fit for me but I can appreciate the witty and to-the-point writing style and the direction this series is heading in.

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