Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Gorgon Bride by Galen Surlak-Ramsey

The Gorgon Bride by Galen Surlak-Ramsey has all the ingredients that I enjoy in fantasy comedy – ancient gods, magic, and true love overcoming all obstacles. So at a glance if I could say who’d enjoy this book, I’d single out those of you who’ve read and enjoyed Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and hells, while we’re at it, if you’re a Discworld fan then you’ll be on familiar turf with The Gorgon Bride.

I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of fantasy comedy (I’m one of the sad sacks for whom Good Omens fell flat the second time I read it, and neither do I indulge in any of Pratchett’s writing anymore, even though I admit that the writing is good – the fault very much lies with the reader and not the author.) So, here goes. I’m going to take off my spooky, serious GrimDark-loving hat and tell you what I liked about this novel as if I were the intended readership.

Alex, a wealthy, professional pianist, is quietly minding his business when a whale lands on him, killing him instantly. It all goes a bit bonkers after that, as a deceased Alex finds himself landed in the midst of a contest between ancient Greek gods … and he himself married to the gorgon Euryale.

On a quest to save his marriage, not only must Alex outwit and outfight gods and monsters, but must figure out what love means to him. And while at first I wasn’t exactly sure where the author was going with this story, by the end of (yet another) quest for Alex and without giving spoilers, I was fully on board with how the story is resolved.

My only criticism is that the pacing of the novel is a bit off. I didn’t really get stung by a sense of urgency and high stakes, but the quality of the writing and the interaction between characters more than makes up for that.

Alex himself grows as a character, from someone who’s self-absorbed and decidedly unheroic, into someone who’s willing to take on the god of war himself, even if his plans never quite work out quite the way he expects them to. Add to that, a wonderful cast of gods and monsters, and you’ve got a fun, rip-roaring plot of mythical proportions that kept me suitably entertained. Author Galen certainly knows his stuff in terms of Greek mythology, and he does a cracking good job bringing that ancient pantheon to life with plenty of in-jokes only those who know their myths will get (and appreciate).

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