Chet Moran is a scrub who desires to turn over a new leaf once his young bride tells him of the impending birth of their child. Together, they run away to a place Chet believes to be a safe haven, but soon find themselves in even greater peril. Chet’s life is claimed by the darkest of ancient arcane evils and discovers the true meaning of life after death. Now he must brave the many perils of purgatory on a quest to save his family from the corruption that consumed him and spare their souls from a world where lost gods roam.
Brom notifies the reader of Chet’s impending doom within the first chapter of the book. He makes this insight painfully clear before the reader even knows who Chet Moran is. Withing the next few chapters you learn about him and his lover, Trish, and how his death comes to past. I found it a marvel just how quickly I found myself rooting for the two of them, despite my knowledge of Chet’s death. Their connection is in part, why this book works so well, as their love is integral to the plot of the story. There were discernable stakes because Chet is not fighting to save himself, but rather to save Trish and their unborn child from his fate.
Purgatory, as the author imagines it, is at times a horrifying and fantastical place. There is a whole world of life after death and it was an utter joy to slowly unravel its mysteries. Entering this world of lost souls is at first disorienting, not because of Brom’s skills as a writer, but rather because you are vividly experiencing the same feelings as the protagonist. Convincingly creating an entire world from scratch is a painstaking venture, but purgatory is a fully realized location complete with its own set of rules and cultures. I was both appalled and fascinated with every new detail Chet learned about his new surroundings. This book has everything a good fantasy novel should have: a quest to save a fair maiden, sword and sorcery, monsters and magic, angels and demons, and even guns. However, it has a strong influence of psychological horror and I often found myself mortified at the implications if Brom’s vision of purgatory was real.
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can level at this novel, is its ability to make the reader self-reflect upon one’s own beliefs about life after death, faith, and religion, and it does so in a non-pretentious manner. Brom points out the duality of faith; how many religions offer peace and serenity, but by the same token, offer eternal agony and damnation. Faith, by its very nature, is about give and take. Though the author is quick to point this out, he leaves it to the reader to make up their own minds about what it is they believe. Not once did I feel like he was trying to force feed me his own beliefs and it was greatly appreciated. This book is neither a celebration of faith or condemnation of it, but rather a catalyst for one’s own internal deliberation.
There isn’t much to complain about here, however, this book does have its flaws. Every now and then, I would stumble upon an awkward sentence or grammatical error. These mistakes didn’t ruin the experience for me, but everytime I stumbled upon one, it disrupted the flow of my reading and took me out of the story. This happened enough times to make a note of it, but it did not ruin my overall experience.
Another, more benign complaint I have, is in regard to the fantastic artwork contained within the center of the novel. Brom is a rather prolific dark fantasy and horror artist. I was unaware that he was also a novelist until I was given this book during the holidays. It’s his art featured on the cover and he made several character pieces to feature inside the book. My problem is with the placement of the art. I would have liked to have seen these pieces at a pertinent time of the story rather than placing them smack-dab in the middle of the book. I also wish there was more of his fantastic art featured as I’ve been a fan of his artwork for a long time and would have liked to have seen his world fleshed out in his paintings. The inclusion of a map for the underworld would have been very helpfull as well.
Lost Gods is a great read that I would recommend to any fan of the fantasy and horror genres. The book is 490 pages long and contains 100 relatively brief chapters. I was able to complete the book within a few days with some dedicated reading. My time spent with Lost Gods was satisfying and I hope it’s a world Brom plans to revisit. I was unable to predict where he was going with most of his plot threads, which I found refreshing, and I look forward to reading more of his content in the future. Even though there is a palpable despair to Brom’s purgatory, there is a strong current of hope beneath it that will leave readers feeling more hopeful about their own world.