Strange Fiction

I think I’ve just read two of the strangest books of my reading life – and strange in completely and totally different ways.

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First I read

The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden

Published June 13th 2017 by Harper Voyager

Paperback, 400 pages

Source: Chicago Public Library

In South Africa, the future looks promising. Personal robots are making life easier for the working class. The government is harnessing renewable energy to provide infrastructure for the poor. And in the bustling coastal town of Port Elizabeth, the economy is booming thanks to the genetic engineering industry which has found a welcome home there. Yes—the days to come are looking very good for South Africans. That is, if they can survive the present challenges:

A new hallucinogenic drug sweeping the country . . .

An emerging AI uprising . . .

And an ancient demigoddess hellbent on regaining her former status by preying on the blood and sweat (but mostly blood) of every human she encounters.

It’s up to a young Zulu girl powerful enough to destroy her entire township, a queer teen plagued with the ability to control minds, a pop diva with serious daddy issues, and a politician with even more serious mommy issues to band together to ensure there’s a future left to worry about.

So Zulu demigoddesses and AI intermingling?  That might not have even been the strangest thing I could say about the Prey of Gods.  I can’t say how this book worked but it did.  I flew through these pages to see if the ancients or the technology would come out ahead and I was delighted with the ending.  I was also impressed by the diversity of the characters- race, sexuality, gender, the powerful and the seemingly powerless.  This book made me laugh, made me cringe at times and still left me thinking in the end.  I’m so glad Michelle at That’s What She Read pointed me to this delightfully bizarre read.  

And then I read

The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac, Sharma Shields

Published January 27th 2015 by Holt Paperbacks

Paperback, 400 pages

Source: ARC from ALA Midwinter 2015

Eli Roebuck was nine years old when his mother walked off into the woods with “Mr. Krantz,” a large, strange, hairy man who may or may not be a sasquatch. What Eli knows for certain is that his mother went willingly, leaving her only son behind. For the rest of his life, Eli is obsessed with the hunt for the bizarre creature his mother chose over him, and we watch it affect every relationship he has in his long life–with his father, with both of his wives, his children, grandchildren, and colleagues. We follow all of the Roebuck family members, witnessing through each of them the painful, isolating effects of Eli’s maniacal hunt, and find that each Roebuck is battling a monster of his or her own, sometimes literally. The magical world Shields has created is one of unicorns and lake monsters, ghosts and reincarnations, tricksters and hexes. At times charming, as when young Eli meets the eccentric, extraordinary Mr. Krantz, and downright horrifying at others, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac is boldly imaginative throughout, and proves to be a devastatingly real portrait of the demons that we as human beings all face.

If The Prey of Gods was delightfully bizarre, I just found this book to be bizarre.  Eli’s life is changed forever when his mother leaves with a Sasquatch called Mr. Krantz.  She doesn’t look back, just walks off into the woods leaving her child and husband behind. Eli’s story includes perspectives of his father, wives and children and even back to his mother and the elusive sasquatch.  Maybe that was part of my issue – this wasn’t a short book but the changing perspectives were not long enough for me to really care about the characters.  There are curses and a unicorn and so much talk of the sasquatch.  I wanted to love this but I think maybe I just prefer my magical realism to be full of happiness.  So no fault of the book, just not my cup of tea.

Any new strange recommendations for me?

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