What a strange little book! I loved this one – it wasn’t what I was expecting at all, and honestly, that made it so much better.
This is the first time I’ve read anything by Andrew J. Stone (although he recently released another book you can grab here!), and I managed to squeeze it in right before the end of 2020. It’s novella length, which is perfect for a quick trip into the bizarre land of the House Gods – and can we just mention, without spoiling anything, how terrifying they are? Yikes!
Although this is a fictional novella, the setting and story could serve as a commentary even on our society and world today. I won’t go too far into the details since this is such a short book and I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that there were many times while reading that I’d compare something happening in the book to a situation from the real world, and I enjoyed that I could make these comparisons without anything in the book coming off as preachy or “too much”. I really like stories that are told about communities that have adapted to specific customs and rules. Although not specifically horror, books like The Giver, The Hunger Games, and Never Let Me Go share stories of future communities and worlds where certain parts of society are seen to be operating at “peak function”, but at what cost? Although different in genre, these stories all share a similar theme: the cost is usually too high.
As a reader, I personally sometimes struggle with certain elements – world building, for example, is really difficult for me to get invested in, because I often find that I can’t fully immerse myself. This is why I sometimes have a hard time with high fantasy – I love the idea of made up, magical worlds, I do! But it’s harder for me to get into than, for example, more urban-based fantasy set in the real world might be. That’s all said to point out that in House Gods, Stone builds an entire dystopian, futuristic, weirdly magical world with its own full set of rules & terminology, and I STILL didn’t have a single second of trouble becoming completely absorbed in the story – which is saying something for me! I had a lot of fun with the different terms and meanings behind familiar words, and liked that we got to learn a little more about the way this community is run.
Overall, this was an excellent way to end my year of reading – engaging, weird, hopeful, and wonderfully gory. I’ll be on the look out for more by Stone, including checking out his first published book soon!
Thank you to the author for sending a copy of this over for review consideration!
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