Lost Gods

Let me begin by saying that I am not Catholic, and the doctrine of Purgatory is one of the main reasons why. I don’t want to argue the point here, but it’s significant because I am about to review a novel that is set mostly in Purgatory.

Since I believe that it is a fictional place, I have no problems with how it is portrayed in this Fantasy novel. A devout Catholic might find it offensive.

That having been said, Lost Gods is a fantastic novel, in nearly every sense of the word. It deals with religious matters–angels, devils, gods–realistically, without the smirking humanization of, say, Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett. The supernatural elements are, quite frankly, terrifying, older and more cruel than humanity. You won’t find any urbane socialite angels and demons here, discussing Heaven and Hell over wine and cigars.

What you will find is a nightmarish landscape inhabited by the souls of the dead and the stranger souls of dead gods–the titular Lost Gods who were cast into Purgatory by the resurrected Christ. Though decayed, they still wield vast power.

The story is a compelling and, so far as I understand the doctrine, fitting one for the setting. Chet Moran is a man who loses everything in the first chapter and then struggles to regain it through perseverance, fighting his way through Purgatory to  seek his shot at redemption.

The characters, human and otherwise, are engaging and complex, nearly everyone has secrets and almost nothing is what it first appears. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because of spoilers, except to say that most of the real surprises are not “twists” in the conventional sense, but rather layers that are stripped away, revealing more and more details that eventually illuminate everything.

Very highly recommended.

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Writing, pulp revival and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Lost Gods

  1. Mary says:

    Well, that’s certainly not Purgatory. A soul in Purgatory is saved.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      To be honest the theology took a backseat to the action, once the story got rolling. But there was definately a sense that the souls in Purgatory were not damned. I’d really like to see a review of the book from a Catholic who can speak more to the doctrinal issues.

      • Dave Higgins says:

        Not an expert on nuances of Catholic theology, but there seem to be two rough threads of purgatory:

        (1) a place for people who can’t enter Heaven but don’t deserve Hell (e.g. those who died before Christ brought his message to their people who nevertheless strove to live virtuously); this Purgatory is serene but lacks the active presence of God;

        (2) a place for people who are saved in the context of eternity but not washed clean of sin (e.g. those who died before Christ brought his message who didn’t live virtuously because they were unaware of virtue); this Purgatory has a soul-testing nature, so can appear like a species of damnation.

      • Mary says:

        The second would be Limbo, not Purgatory. And Limbo is speculation, not doctrine.

      • Actually, the second definition of Purgatory is close to correct, but the example is not. Purgatory is meant for people who lived and died either concurrently with or after Christ. Thus those who enter Pugatory died either in venial sin or with the debt of temporal punishment incurred by the sins they committed in life unpaid. In Purgatory these souls pay their debt and/or are purged of their remaining sinful attachments over a certain period of time, whereafter they enter heaven and remain there for all eternity.

        Limbo was “the place or state of rest where under the Old Testament the souls of the just who had died before the time of Christ, awaited the Redemption.” It is also thought to be the place where infants who die without Baptism “enjoy for all eternity a natural happiness,” but that may be speculation, as Mary says.

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