Six years ago, a book called The Child Thief introduced me to the weird and the wonderful world of Brom. Who is Brom? An established artist, Brom mostly works with materials associated with Gothic fantasy. I am not arty, but Brom's arts evoke in me a sense of wonder, mystery, and terror, and I like it. A simple look at his painting is enough to make you feel curious about the story behind it.
Indeed, there are stories behind Brom's paintings, and who is better to tell you these stories than the artist himself? So it is no surprise, Brom is also a talented storyteller. His debut, The Child Thief, was very well received by the readers. Since then, Brom has established a good publishing record.
So what sort of books does Brom write? He writes fantasy, but it is difficult to identify Brom's books with a known sub-genre in fantasy. Brom's stories are fairytale-like, but it is also dark, twisted, and violent, and he serves it on a plate of spaghetti western. Brom's latest book, titled, Lost Gods, is perhaps his best novel yet.
Chet Moran, age 24, has done stupid things in the past and he paid for it by getting himself locked up in the jail. Now that his sentence is due, Chet wants nothing more than a second chance at a new life, with his pregnant wife, Trish.
On a night highway, lit by a pale moon, Chet and Trish drove a beat up car to South Carolina and starting a new chapter in their life. Their destination, the home of Chet's estranged grandmother, Lamia, whom Chet believed would offer them a safe haven until the little family can stand on their own feet again. When the couple reached the journey's end, they found themselves greeted by an eerie island, an island whose memory is looming with legends of witchcraft and ancient evils. However, if the place gave the couple any goose bump, it was quickly dispelled by Lamia's warmth and radiant smile.
“Lamia is still the kind grandmother from my childhood”, thought Chet.
So the couple settled down in Lamia's old house, and they were bathing in the joys of Trish's coming baby. The future is finally looking bright for Chet and Trish.
Or is it?
My thoughts on this book:
Over the years I realized, if you are longing for a dark and twisted story, then you can trust Brom to quench that thirst. Lost Gods is set in the purgatory, but this is not the purgatory from Catholicism. No, Brom's purgatory is a fascinating place where the gods and the demons fight to gain the souls of the dead. Here Brom teases a very interesting idea – what happened to those gods who no longer have any believers? (Hence the books' title, Lost Gods).
Ok, this idea is not new; in American Gods and Discworld novels, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett both based their stories on this idea: a god's (or a religion's) power is only as strong as the number of its believers. The world, then, is a play field where the gods (religions) compete each other for believers in order to ensure their continuous survivals. While this idea is common sense, but when a master storyteller wraps it in narratives, then it suddenly opens a gateway, inviting its reader to review the nature of belief from a very different perspective.
In Lost Gods, Chet Moran is the main protagonist. I like Chet's character. In this book, Chet is just a normal man who is fighting for a chance to make it up to his family. This is a story about his redemption. Chet may lack the martial prowess when compared to fantasy heroes such as Roland Deschain or Harry Dresden, but he makes it all up with a lot of heart, and I rooted for his character straight away. Chet is a very human hero, he has a stout heart but little prowess. This is why, when Chet steps into dangers you will hold your breath for him, but when he succeeds you will also cheer for him. This also means, Lost Gods builds tensions, it immerses a reader under a sense of real danger, and its conclusion, although bitter sweet, is very rewarding.
Brom always illustrates his own books. While there are only 6 illustrations in Lost Gods, but they are excellent. Not only do these illustrations help us envision Brom's imaginative and wonderful characters, but they also reflect the attractive qualities of Brom's arts; the mystery, the wonder, and the terror. Below are a few sample illustrations from this book.
Lost Gods is a fine tale. This is probably Brom's best book up to date. This book is Gothic, horror, fantasy, western, and fairy tale rolled into one. Once again, Brom demonstrated, he is as a talented author as he is a brilliant artist. I cannot wait to read what strange and wonderful tale he has in store for us at the next time.
I happen to be in possession of a spare copy for this book. Therefore, I am going to do a give-away competition on my blog.
Simply comment below and share with us, what is your favorite dark (or grimdark?) fantasy book and why. I will enter your name into a draw. In 2 months time, I will announce the winner of the draw, and I will mail the book to you free of charge. But please note, this competition is ONLY for people living in Sydney, Australia (because at this stage, I am not mailing the books internationally).
In the future, I may be doing more, occasional give-away competitions on my blog, and I may also expand the competition to my international readers. So stay tuned to my blog channel and I hope you enjoy reading my reviews as much as I enjoy writing and sharing them. Until the next time, happy reading!