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Friday, May 17, 2013

“Unclean Spirits: Gods and Monsters” by Chuck Wendig (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “Unclean Spirits: Gods and MonstersHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

Unclean Spirits: Gods and Monsters, released on May 7th, was my first introduction to Chuck Wendig's writing, and I didn't really know what to expect. Now I can't wait to read more.

This is the first of a new urban fantasy series from Abaddon Books. The similarities to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods are hard to miss, but don't be fooled: Unclean Spirits: Gods and Monsters is a whole different animal. The tone, the pacing, the characters, all of it, and honestly, this story is just plain fun. Dark, sometimes horribly creepy, but fun.

Wendig really has a gift for mood. He absolutely nails dialect, which is so easy to mess up, and I loved how he used sentence structure and tight POVs to bring the reader into the chaotic or violent scenes. I should probably mention that if you have difficulty with graphic imagery and profanity, then this book is not for you. I don't think either was gratuitous, but there was quite a lot.

The author did a great job of making extremely dangerous choices seem perfectly reasonable, as if, given who those characters are, the choices they make are the only ones that make any possible sense, and being that truthful to human nature is especially important in a story that has so much bizarre going on.

I love how Wendig captured the capriciousness of gods, and the resilience of humans despite, or because of, any odds. The Coyote sections are absolutely perfect, and I snickered all the way through. I really appreciated that he didn't show favoritism to the more famous mythologies (I weary of supposedly pantheistic world-building that dwells on the Olympians). There are some enormous cosmic things going on in this story, but Wendig doesn't really give you time to process the implications because they're already punching the protagonist in the face. And even though this reads like a fun, plot-driven story that doesn't dwell on the philosophical side so much, you know the he understands what matters:

“It's always in the myths. The legends. The history. The stories. The stories have secrets. They tell the truth, even when it's a lie.”

I have very little to nit-pick with Unclean Spirits: Gods and Monsters. The ending was a little abrupt for me, but it does keep with the character of the book. And the protagonist makes all kinds of Casey cracks for a character whose name is actually Cason, but I suppose I'm predisposed to notice that. =)

So I was happy to learn that Unclean Spirits: Gods and Monsters isn't the end for this series, and happier still to learn Chuck Wendig has another new book, Blue Blazes (May 28, 2013 via Angry Robot), coming out in just a few weeks.

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