Overview (No Spoilers):
“Being a god is to exist without limitations.”
In Wyrd Gods by Susana Imaginário, this premise is tipped on its head, and gods are thrown into the world as mortals, infinitely limited by their new bodies. The story follows a mysterious female goddess who finds herself waking up in the body of a dryad, Ileana, instead of her home among the stars; to her horror, she’s become a wyrd god. Bereft of some of her most important memories (like, how she became a wyrd in the first place), she must navigate a world full of warring creatures, quarrelsome gods, and the fearsome Suzerain, a being so powerful that even immortal beings cannot touch him. The goddess, as Ileana, must figure out how she came to be trapped as a wyrd and how to escape from her dryad body before it’s too late.
Because of the selective amnesia of the main character and the fact that she awakens in a strange world with only bits and pieces of her host dryad’s memory to guide her, much of the beginning of the book felt like a scavenger hunt for me as a reader; I kept trying to figure out which story threads and characters would unlock the wider picture and help me make sense of the main plotline. At times there was a big info dump in a paragraph that helped to fill in gaps, but other times I wished the backstory had been more generously fleshed out to help me understand just what was going on and who the major players were. Adding to the convoluted nature of the story are godly machinations aplenty, time travel, a plethora of minor characters, and interlude chapters that follow 11 different characters. That’s a lot of plot to wrap your head around! I just about gave up in frustration at the halfway mark, but pushed on, and was glad that the storylines start to reveal themselves and come together towards the end of the book.
Wyrd Gods is a fast-paced tale, particularly so after the halfway mark when pieces of the puzzle finally start falling into place. I enjoyed the author’s merging of the Olympian and Aesir pantheons; the interplay of deities from multiple mythologies was faintly reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Imaginário adds wit and humor to liven up the ancient personas, and keeps the action rolling at a brisk pace. That said, I tend to enjoy richer, more detailed writing than Imaginário’s more direct style, especially with all the action, large cast of characters, and multiple settings in Wyrd Gods. Still, fans of mythology who don’t mind a complex storyline may enjoy this book.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I enjoyed the reveal of the goddess’ identity as Psyche, and would have loved even more of her origin story to have been intertwined in the story. I immediately googled the myth and spent a lot of time reacquainting myself with the lesser-known Olympian’s story.
- I thoroughly enjoyed the steamier scenes between Ileana and the Dharkan, although I didn’t totally buy the instant love connection between the two of them. The tension built a good amount of suspense and had me flipping pages to see it through.
- I know that this is only book one in the series, but there were a LOT of loose ends at the end of the book. Is Ileana dead or alive? Why does Chronos think Psyche is such a big threat to the old gods? What are the gods arguing over in the first place that started the whole shebang? Honestly, with as much work as it took to untangle the threads of the plotlines, it was a bit frustrating not to have more answers by the end of the story.
Apotheosised: elevate to, or as if to, the rank of a god; idolize
Susurrating: to make a whispering sound
Nocive: harmful, injurious
Cognomen: surname, name