Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of ‘Wyrd Gods’ by Susana Imaginário, the first book in the Timelessness series. This was a book that had been on my radar through SPFBO and Norsevember, so I leapt at the chance to read and review and a huge thank you to Susana for the audiobook. I started with the audiobook which is beautifully narrated by Sarah Kempton, and ended up buying the ebook so that I could bounce between the two and didn’t have to put it down.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
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…
Wyrd Gods was a rare book that had me from the first few lines. Usually, no matter how much I love or come to love opening lines/paragraphs, it will take me a little longer to be hooked into a story. Yet there was something about this one that just gripped hold of me – I know that I certainly stayed up far too late that night listening to a larger chunk than intended.
‘Gaea took a deep breath. Then another.
The Goddess had no need to breathe and there was no atmosphere in that remote realm of the Cosmos, but the action, synonymous with life, helped her relax. She could use that under the circumstances.’
I’ve always enjoyed mythology, one of my prized possessions when I was a child was a beautifully illustrated book of Greek myths that I read and read until it fell apart, and I love seeing what can be done with mythology within fantasy and Wyrd Gods has taken a very unique approach which really makes it stand out. For one, it is a complex meeting of Norse and Greek mythology– a combination that at first thought you might not think would work – and yet Imaginário not only pulls it off, but she demonstrates a fantastic grasp and understanding of the myths while transforming it into something new. I would say that it does help to have some knowledge of the mythologies that are involved, but I think the power of the storytelling will easily sweep you away even if you’re just dipping your toes into the mythology.
One thing that did take me a little while to get used to, and which also sets Wyrd Gods apart was that it used different POV perspectives throughout. We get the first-person view as we follow the path of a Wyrd God who finds herself trapped in the body of a mortal, which was a fantastic choice for this character, especially as the story unfolds through her journey to piece together who she was, the memories of the body that she’s trapped within, and why she came to be in this position. I enjoy the fact that we discover the twists and turns alongside her, and there was more than one that caught me by surprise. This POV is then interrupted by other third-person POV interludes from other characters. This shift took between the two took a little while for me to get used to, but it was so beautifully done and works so well, that once I had the book just flew by, and the different POVs allow us to see more of what is happening in the world than what we could do if we were only following the Wyrd God.
This is very much a character-driven story, and while the one we know best is the Wyrd and she is a fascinating character, the characterisation across the board was fantastic. There are a lot of characters, and again this is where some knowledge of mythology can help, but Imaginário does a great job of bringing them all to life and making them individual and memorable, and giving them their own role within this epic-scale world and narrative that she has created. It’s also interesting to see a tale told through characters such as these, as often where Gods and similar beings are involved, we witness them through other people’s eyes, but here they are the characters, and it is their relationships and different perspectives that are explored.
Wyrd Gods is a fantastic book and stands out for its execution and Imaginário’s writing that carries a complex, richly imagined narrative across worlds, through multiple plotlines and through an array of characters and POVS, and the ending has left me hungry for more.
This book should definitely be on your shelf or TBR if you love mythology-inspired and character-driven fantasy. I also have to give a massive shoutout to Sarah Kempton for her fantastic narration on the audiobook. I tend to be incredibly picky with narrators, but I couldn’t get enough of this one, and she brought great nuance to the story and the characters and I would highly recommend the audiobook. And I’m excited to dive into the second book in this series ‘The Dharkan’
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.