Fantasy Book Review: Bad Gods by Gaie Sebold

Fantasy Book Review

Bad Gods
Author: Gaie Sebold
Publication Date: Jan 4th 2022
Publisher: Solaris
Genres: Epic Fantasy

As much as it caught my eye a decade ago when it was released as Babylon Steel, it's taken me this long to finally make room in the TBR and give Bad Gods a read. It's an interesting book, immensely entertaining in the ways it embraces diversity and sex work, and utterly fascinating with its take on portals, pantheons, and prophecies, but I felt it stumbled in its pacing. 

Where I breezed through the first 25% over the course of two nights, it took me a week to make it through the middle 50%, and I started to get distracted by other books. Something about the novelty of it all stuck with me, though, so I eventually found my way back into it and, I'm happy to say, raced through the final 25% just as quickly as the first.

The novelty of it all, the diversity of the races and the genders and the sexualities, was a sheer delight. We have fey and fauns, angels and alligators, lizards and lamias, caterpillars and cats, many of whom have no gender, multiple genders, and blended genders. Even with lust spells, glamours, mind reading, and things like dual penises, though, it all has an air of sweet innocence that makes every character who passes through a delight.

Babylon Steel, proprietor of The Red Lantern (one of the best brothels in Scalentine) is a wonderful protagonist, a refreshingly strong, confident woman who lives and loves as well as she fights. She's got a great backstory, and the way it intersects with her search for a missing young woman is the drive behind the novel. That the search takes too long, drawing out the middle part of the book and confusing the purpose of it all, is the only downfall of the book - had I loved the story as much as the characters, you'd be reading a whole different review.

Not quite what I was hoping for, but more than I expected, Bad Gods was a solid fantasy that does all the little things right.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ 1/2

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.