A unique type of fantasy that excels in successfully drawing on mythologies; the uninitiated however may need to put in a bit more work to appreciate it fully.
Author – Susana Imaginário
Pages – 394
Thankyou very much to Susana for providing me with an audiobook copy of Wyrd Gods in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Wyrd Gods – pronounced ‘weird‘ is both wyrd by name and weird by nature!
I’d say the story often feels like it has a dream-sequence like quality to it, which makes sense when it’s not set on planet earth (or should that be Midgard?) – the setting is Niflheim, the mythological Norse world of ice and darkness.
It is not strictly a Norse mythology story though, despite featuring some of the Gods – the foundations are actually a merging of the Greek and Norse Gods primarily, who have agreed to come together and share power. This is as fragile sort of peace as you might expect. However, it’s not the clash of the gods type novel you might assume on hearing this. Conflict comes, rather than through war, on a more personal level. And I think Susana excellently captures the pride, wrath, envy, lust and power-craving that epitomises the Gods of both pantheons, as well as their individual personalities within the mythologies.
“We can’t kill each other, we can’t live with each other, so we make deals to make eternity more bearable”
One thing I liked in particular was the use of humour, without going overboard and making it a comedy novel – just the right amount to be faithful to the flavour of the mythology, along with bloody moments and certainly some lustful events! The Gods are at work here, afterall.
Our main character is a God confined to Niflheim back in human form, as a wyrd god. She was previously mortal and now finds herself in another’s mortal body once again, as punishment for answering a prayer – a big no no.
The story is her journey to regain her place. Meeting the various characters along the way is what gives the story this dream like, surreal quality. There are a lot of characters and encounters, so it can be challenging to keep track, but it is certainly a vibrant experience.
“Odin inhaled deeply. Freya always said the best weapon against anger was a deep inhale. In his experience, the best weapon against anger was to unleash it on those who caused it. Failing that, he exhaled.”
In addition to this, there are many nods to mythology that you won’t understand if you don’t know them already (I think I picked up on a lot of the Norse ones but certainly will have missed others) aswell as a knowledge on most of the main gods of Norse and Greek pantheons being required to really appreciate it. The author does a remarkable job of tying this altogether and showing her knowledge of the mythologies and her imagination on putting her own personality and imprint on them. It could however be a little more accessible to a wider audience to have a background on some of the characters though.
As mentioned, I’m pretty knowledgeable on the Norse mythology and have a basic knowledge of the Greek pantheon but at times did have to wrack my brain and stop to remind myself who was who or information about some of the mythology featured. I certainly think it can be read by somebody completely without knowledge of any mythology, but I definitely think there would be moments that might leave them confused aswell as the inability to fully appreciate the work that has gone into this as an expert would. I think the more you know, the more you will appreciate it. Loki and Hades were particularly well done, and I liked that Odin wasn’t portrayed as an infallible supergod – even in the Norse writings he makes his fair share of mistakes!
This lack of hand-holding did make the book flow more slowly in parts than it might have due to keeping track of the characters; on the writing side though the style of the prose is really nice and it’s clear the book is well written which helps with the flow.
I don’t think this is a book that will necessarily give you that “just one more chapter” feel, or make you desperate to finish work to find out what happens next (though the book does build up pace as it reaches the conclusion, leaving plenty of promise for it’s sequel) – and that’s partly due to the slower pacing and focus on characters over action.
What you will get is an insight into the minds of the Gods, a deep dive into mythologies and a colourful, imaginative, well written book that you will enjoy spending time exploring. This is more of a relaxing read in which you can take your time and appreciate the writing and the world that has been created. Susana Imaginário writes with such lovely descriptions and entertaining wit aswell as living up to her name with a superb imagination, if you take the time to familiarise yourself with the mythology, you’re sure to be enthralled.
I must point out before concluding that I listened to the audiobook version of Wyrd Gods, and the narration was flawless. The delivery and storytelling technique was spot on. It felt like the narrator really understood and appreciated the work she was reading from.
The God of Time wants to destroy Eternity.
A mysterious immortal seeks vengeance.
And a reclusive deity does what no god should ever do: she answers a prayer.
As punishment, she is stripped of her powers and trapped in a mortal’s body. Now a Wyrd – a fated god – she is haunted by the memories and thoughts of her host and must hide her true identity in order to survive in Niflheim, the rival Norse Underworld.
There she discovers the afterlife is not quite what it used to be. Niflheim’s new ruler threatens the precarious balance of a world overrun with outcast deities and mortals alike.
To save her own sanity and find her way back to the stars, she must help the other Wyrd overcome their grievances to defeat this enemy, but those who would be her allies appear to have motives as hidden as her fragmented consciousness.
And yet it seems the greatest threat to her freedom comes from within, and the prize it seeks is her immortal soul…