09 May 2013

Gods and Monsters: Unclean Spirits - Chuck Wendig

The BlurbFive 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...

I am a huge fan of Chuck Wendig's, having devoured his Miriam Black books with relish. I'm also a faithful follower of his blog and the writing advice he dishes out on there are entertaining and quite brilliant in it's own right. I must admit my Urban Fantasy reading shelf leaves a lot to be desired, consisting mostly of Dresden running around doing what he does best. This book proves that there are some damn good ones out there that I miss and I'll work to rectify this.

Onto Unclean Spirits. The main character here is Cason Cole, a retired MMA fighter who faced an easy choice. Serve a monster in order to save his family. It was a no brainer and of course he accepted. You save those you love and screw the strings attached. There were some bastard strings attached to this deal, but at least his family was safe.

Cason gets a lucky break when someone blows up his boss, which he thinks allows him to go back to his family. He thought that the deal was done, the strings cut. Far from it for the poor man, his torture was only starting.

The gods has been evicted from their respective pantheons and are living with us normal people on earth. Some of them just get on with life as it were, while others manipulate humans to their own ends. I'd like to think that humanity has rubbed off on them after their time here, since the petty squabbles and mistakes they make are quite human at the end of the day. They aren't omni-cognisant or omnipresent, but they are still the scariest thing you'll ever meet by a country mile. A pissed off god is not to be trifled with.

Unclean Spirits is definitely not for the YA crowd, seeing as language use is quite, shall we say spicy? The violence present in the novel is also pretty graphic, but done in typical Wendig style. It's dirty, desperate and hilarious in equal measure. It fits in with the story damn well, seeing if this ever happened to me I would be running around cursing, screaming and peeing myself for the majority of the story. And whimpering. Lots of curling into a ball and whimpering.

Most of the gods are bastards, manipulating events and Cason to their own ends. Many a time he thinks he's doing the right thing, only to realise later on that he was being lead around by the nose. Cason isn't a quitter and he bulldozes his way through most of the problems he faces. He takes some hits along the way and as the plot around him becomes clearer, he's still his own man. For someone who has been put through the meat grinder by damn gods, this is admirable and you cannot help but cheer the man on.

Is this book the same as Gaiman's American Gods? No. The premise is the same with gods running around all over the place, but that's about it. Wendig's gods are foul mouthed, meaner and petty for the most part. Infected with humanity if it makes sense. It makes them more fun to read seeing as they scheme to cheat each other more than they try cheating humanity. 

Unclean Spirits was a fun novel to read. The pacing is fast and never lets up. The action is wall to wall awesome and there were enough humorous parts to lighten it up and lift the story. As a quick jaunt into urban fantasy filled with gods and drama, this was awesome.


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