Dark, gritty American Gods(ish)
For five years, ex MMA fighter Cason Cole has been the bodyguard for the God Eros. Forced into his service after Eros saved his family from death, Cason now serves not just without question but also without contact with his family, for this is the price he paid.
With the murder of Eros, Cason finds that by escaping one god he has stumbled into the murky world and schemes of the many gods that also inhabit the earth. Can Cason Cole regain the life he had before? Will the gods let this happen? Or does Cason have a higher calling?
This horror/fantasy which many call ‘urban fantasy’ comes from author Chuck Wendig, best known for his 2015 Star Wars novel ‘Aftermath.’ This novel is part of the 2013 Gods and Monsters series and this review is for the February 18 reissue. A Wendig book can easily be identified, in part, by the dark and gritty subject matter, combined with his choppy writing style and short, snappy dialogue. Unclean Spirits has this in spades. It’s violent and sweary, pulpy like a B movie. It could be cool but doesn’t quite hit the mark.
There are some memorable characters and so there should be, as Wendig takes from every pantheon of the gods. Some major, well known gods are here but also some minor ones which gives it an interesting slant. The best character is the mass of walking scar tissue that is Frank Polcyn, besotted, vengeful and unfortunately under-used. Whereas the characters were interesting there were far too many. Too many gods taken from too many pantheons which created some confusion and created some lack of interest and some drifting off.
It’s a decent read, fairly engaging and punchy, it doesn’t drag (which is a bonus) and does keep you turning those pages. The author does action well and the violence is graphic - if you like action-packed this book is worth a read, although it does seem to burn itself out as it gets to the finale, which is apparent with a very disappointing ending. The highlight for me was Wendig’s take on the unicorn. Not some hum drum run of the mill garden variety but a dirty, raw, grim and violent beast. A bit like the author’s writing and very much like this book.
A moodier, more violent but half as good American Gods.