Sci-Fi Review: Whom the Gods Would Destroy by Brian Hodge

Damn, but this was one hell of a read. Whom the Gods Would Destroy is relatively short, coming in at under a hundred pages, but it starts creeping you out from page one and completely intrigues you by the end of that first chapter. Brian Hodge successfully manages to blow your mind around the halfway point, and then holds your interest beyond, with a climax that delivers on just about every level.

On the surface, this is the oddest mix of genres, but deep down it really works. Hodge dips his literary brush in a palate of hard science fiction, supernatural horror, family drama, and crime thriller, attacking the canvas with cruel, deliberate stokes, and inflicting upon it an extraordinarily dark picture. At heart of it all we have a young man looking for answers - not just to his own tortured past, but to the mysteries that lie beyond the stars.

Ironically, the desperate search for answers that makes Damien such a sympathetic protagonist is really a reflection of the same desperate search that transformed his mother into such a monster. In fact, there are a lot of relationship parallels in the story that help to keep the reader grounded, not the least of which is Damien's choice of girlfriend, a woman whom his long-absent brother suggests is merely a replacement for mom. Where mom was a nun who fell from grace and sought out every deviant sin and cruelty known to man, Ashleigh is a tattooed stripper with a heart of gold who makes a point of finding one news story each day that provides a reason not to despair over mankind's collective future.

I'm hesitant to comment much on the plot, since discovery is such an integral aspect of the tale. You might think you know what the story's about, and you might think you know where it's all going, but nothing here is quite what it seems. I thought I had a grip on it, and was expecting something of an alien abduction/infection tale, but it goes so much deeper and so much further than that. Whom the Gods Would Destroy is a story that's equal parts Arthur C. Clarke and H.P. Lovecraft, as interpreted by James Cameron and Alfred Hitchcock, that will leave you starting at the stars in wonder, even as you shiver with the fear of the dark.

Published December 10th 2013 by DarkFuse (first published December 1st 2013)