This book was reviewed for San Francisco Book Review
Brom’s Lost Gods is a dark, gripping tale of the power of love, the wickedness of men, and the power of alchemic forces always at work in our lives. Chet Moran is a man with a new lease on life. Recently released from prison, Chet elopes with the live of his life, who is carrying his child. Impending fatherhood has made a new man of Chet, and he vows to be the best of fathers to his unborn child.
Chet and Trish flee from her father, going nearly a hundred miles away to where his grandmother lives. Chet hopes to get on his feet, and make a new life for himself and his fledgling family here on remote Moran Island. He never gets the chance. Not even one day back and Chet learns the sinister truth behind his mother’s family. Not one day back and he finds himself dead. The only way to save Trish and his unborn daughter the same fate is to traverse the Netherworld, searching for his grandfather, Gavin.
Chet’s travels carry him across the River Styx, and all the way to Lethe and back. Along the way, he meets some once-human friends, such as Ana and Ado, and makes the acquaintance of several gods, from Sekhmet to Veles. He also earns the enmity of several once-human souls, and their demon masters. In his quest to find Gavin, Chet helps thwart a hostile coup of humans and demons against the twilight gods who dwell in purgatory. After all that, he still needs to get back to the surface and confront the threat to his family.
One part Dante’s Inferno, one part the journey of Orpheus, Lost Gods is an alchemic journey quite unlike any other. I have yet to read a novel by Brom that wasn’t richly complex, and this was certainly no exception. Filled with exquisite description, this book follows Chet Moran through seven distinct phases, mirroring the phases of alchemic transformation. At the beginning of each section is a unique, detailed drawing depicting a beastie or being relevant to that section. I loved Chet’s determination. Even after death, he fought to keep his promise of being there for his fledgling family. Through his underworld travels, he lived a veritable lifetime, growing into the full manhood his death had cut short.
This story mirrored a belief I hold personally, that we shape our own afterlife. Here, the twilight gods make a note that it is our beliefs in life that lead a soul to be damned or not. It was only those who had a dual belief in heaven and hell, and who committed some deadly sin that ended up in hell. Those who followed other paths did not, though they may still suffer death at the hands of demons or other underworld beings. And souls can die. Once a soul crosses over, if the ba is released from the ka’s frame, through damage to the skull, then there’s no coming back. A soul whose ba is still safe can heal damage to the ka, either over time or through ingestion of ka coins. This story speaks to me on an even deeper level, in relation to the subjugation by the Book religions, called here the One God faiths, of so many of the myriad faiths that once flourished. So much lost because of what? Jealousy? Intolerance? If you want a book guaranteed to make you think, look no further.
🎻🎻🎻🎻🎻 Highly recommended because Brom. ‘Nough said.