The Woken Gods, by Gwenda Bond

Title: The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication date: 5th September 2013 (UK)
Rating

TheWokenGods-144dpiFollowing how much I loved Gwenda Bond’s Blackwood, I was crazy excited to read The Woken Gods. I wasn’t disappointed.

What if all the gods were real? And what if they decided that they wanted to rule? Now enter the humans with divine relics to defend against the gods, to keep their powers at bay. Divine relics that could kill even a god. When the gods mysteriously awoke and the world changed, the only defence the humans had were these relics, gathered and retrieved by the Society of the Sun, an organisation of relic hunters.

When the gods realised they could be killed, the tables turned. Gods fear death above all else—real and permanent death. An uneasy truce formed, headed by the tricksters, between the humans and gods. But with gods and magic and utter chaos now making up the new world order, nothing is the same as it once was. Only relics made a difference at all, and these relics are now what really keep the peace.

One day Kyra is drawn deeper into the world of tricksters and relics than she ever imagined possible. On her way home from school, with her ex-boyfriend and best friend, Kyra has an encounter with two of the tricksters—and each have different things to say: one a warning, the other a threat. With the help of two operatives of the mysterious Society of the Sun, Kyra escapes and is plunged into a world where she learns her family’s history and her father has stolen a powerful relic.

Kyra has no idea why her scholar of a father would steal a relic, what the relic is, or why she is suddenly torn between trusting one trickster and fleeing the other. Little does she know that her life was never as simple as she believes and is in fact built upon a foundation of secrets and lies.

With her sceptic ex, whose father is the head of a society of sceptics bent on uncovering conspiracies within the Society of the Sun, and best friend, whose mother is a TV anchor-woman and is always working, Kyra must find a way of unravelling the reason why her father stole the relic. And if she doesn’t, she might lose him forever.

Unwilling to draw her friends too deeply into her new tangled life, Kyra inserts herself, alone, deep into the Society with the only contact she has—the grandfather she never knew she had and has only just met. Her grandfather offers her a new family, taking her under his wing and showing her the secrets her father hid from her. And, her maternal grandfather, he tells her things about her mother that make her miss the woman who screams whenever she sees her daughter.

With a prophecy Kyra doesn’t know about lurking over her like a shadow, touching everything she does in order to save her father, Kyra has her work cut out just staying safe and sane in this sudden crazy world, let alone breaking her father out of custody before his trial and recovering the relic he stole in the first place.

But when your friends might be endangered by your course of action and the only people you can trust are either trickster gods or operatives for the other side, Kyra finds she might be in way over her head and drowning fast.

A pacy and intriguing read, Bond proves that she is a master of quick, exciting stories that grip and tug at the imagination. The narrative is just a little offbeat and quirky and suits the story perfectly. It is fast and relentless and keeps you flicking through. The story could have been confusing. Setting the scene could have meant massive info dumps. But Bond is better than that and the result is a very slick presentation of a very different and vast reimagined version of our own world with our own gods—every single one of them.

I was crazy excited about this book for two reasons: Gwenda Bond, and gods. I love mythology and I love representations of gods and deities. The fact that ancient pantheons are offered only makes this better for me. The Woken Gods is moreish and addictive and incredibly, deliciously strange. This is an offbeat book that chooses its course and sticks to it. There is romance, there is intrigue and there is the ever-important Parent Thing. If a YA book doesn’t depict some kind of parental relationship with the protagonist—even absent parents, dead or otherwise, parental figures, guardians, etc—then it is not authentic.

Strong themes with parents are something I look for and in The Woken Gods the relationships are so multi-layered, between all the main characters and their parents, that Bond gets a hugely massive kudos from me. Kyra is rebellious and mature and she is strong on her own until she isn’t; she is also, for the most part, alone, and was alone when everything happened, when the gods awoke and the world changed.

For this reason, she finds it hard to let people close.

The Woken Gods is dark and witty and compelling. Bond might have written a standalone in Blackwood, but with how this book ends, I will be furiously gnawing on the last few pages of The Woken Gods if there isn’t news of a sequel at some point. The door is open, things are unresolved and new challenges await.

Need. Sequel. Please.

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