ARC Review | Godly Heathens

Posted April 27, 2023 by TheNonbinaryLibrarian in book reviews / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from Netgalley, St. Martin's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review | Godly HeathensGodly Heathens by H.E. Edgmon
Series: The Ouroboros #1
Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on November 28, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction / Romance / LGBTQ
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley, St. Martin's Publishing Group

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Maybe I have always just been bad at being human because I’m not one.

Gem Echols is a nonbinary Seminole teen living in the tiny town of Gracie, Georgia. Known for being their peers’ queer awakening, Gem leans hard on charm to disguise the anxious mess they are beneath. The only person privy to their authentic self is another trans kid, Enzo, who’s a thousand long, painful miles away in Brooklyn.

But even Enzo doesn’t know about Gem’s dreams, haunting visions of magic and violence that have always felt too real. So how the hell does Willa Mae Hardy? The strange new girl in town acts like she and Gem are old companions, and seems to know things about them they’ve never told anyone else.

When Gem is attacked by a stranger claiming to be the Goddess of Death, Willa Mae saves their life and finally offers some answers. She and Gem are reincarnated gods who’ve known and loved each other across lifetimes. But Gem – or at least who Gem used to be - hasn’t always been the most benevolent deity. They’ve made a lot of enemies in the pantheon—enemies who, like the Goddess of Death, will keep coming.

It’s a good thing they’ve still got Enzo. But as worlds collide and the past catches up with the present, Gem will discover that everyone has something to hide.

What did I just finish reading?! Seriously, I wasn’t expecting this ending, and I will need a few days to get over how it ended. I also need November to come so that way others will have read it, and I can discuss it with them.

The book’s plot is fascinating, and why I wanted to read it. I love a good mythology story, and having an original mythology was captivating. Edgmon’s world-building is so well-done that I kept forgetting these weren’t a real pantheon of Gods. There is one tiny aspect of the book that was a bit frustrating, and that was mainly the middle. Once Gem finds out who/what he is, the middle of the book drags at points. It’s still good, and I still wanted to read it. But it didn’t feel like a lot was happening. However, the characters were fascinating enough to have a high rating for this book.

Ugh!! The characters are the greatest. I don’t even know how to describe my love for all of the characters in this book, which is definitely surprising for me. I would say the Mountain has incredible, naturalistic powers and is absolutely gorgeous, but then there’s Poppy, who just seems like a cinnamon roll that could kill me, and I would thank her for the privilege. But Buck is too adorable for words, and I want to befriend Gem and then wrap him up in a blanket to protect him from the world. I don’t know if I have ever come across a novel were not only do I like/love all the characters, but also where I can understand and sympathize with their motivations. Cheers to Edgmon for creating such wonderful characters!

I couldn’t not mention the diversity present in this review. Obviously, Gem is our nonbinary Seminole teen, but there’s representation of other indigenous peoples in Willa Mae and Enzo. Not only that, but all the gods are transgender. Willa Mae actually says the line, “there are no cis gods.” Yes, please! Because, let’s be honest, gods are too omnipotent for strict gender lines. With all of them as transgender gods, Godly Heathens fully embraces the hypocritical stereotype of queers as monsters. If you’re going to treat me like an abomination, then I’ll give you one.

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