Food of the Gods by Em Dehaney


Food of the Gods by Em Dehaney
Publisher: Brave Boy Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (133 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A perfect corpse floats forever in a watery grave.
A gang member takes a terrifying trip to the seaside.
A deserted cross-channel ferry that serves only the finest Slovakian wines.
Gods and monsters.
Mermaids and witches.
Blood and magic.
Love and death.
From the dark and decadent mind of Em Dehaney come eight tales of seafoam secrets and sweet treats.
Nothing is quite what it seems, but everything is delicious.
This is Food Of The Gods.

First impressions don’t always tell the whole story.

Framing “Here Be Monsters” as a conversation between a child and their grandmother about what Earth was like before the monsters arrived and began destroying everything was the perfect way to introduce such a grim future for humanity. Children can understand much more than adults sometimes give them credit for, and the main character of this story was no exception to that rule. They understood the drastic events that nearly caused humans to go extinct incredibly well even if they had no idea what a rainbow was or that people used to be able to grow food in places called gardens. I enjoyed figuring out what daily life must have been like for these characters as I read their conversation and slowly pieced together what must have happened in their not-so-distant past.

“Bellarmine” told the tale of an abusive marriage from the perspectives of Nathaniel and his wife and victim, Elizabeth. They lived at a time in history when there was no social support for women in this situation, so Elizabeth had to figure out how to handle her husband’s violent attacks on her own. As intrigued by I was by her predicament and the clever plot twists, the character development wasn’t strong enough for me to get to know either of them well at all. Nathaniel’s personality was particularly one-dimensional. I strongly disliked him due to all of the awful things he did to his wife, and I certainly wouldn’t expect that to change no matter what his backstory might have been. With that being said, it would have been helpful to have more details about why he behaved so horribly. This was something I noticed play out in a few other stories in this collection as well. While I adored Ms. Dehaney’s writing style overall, the character development issues did lead to me giving her book a lower rating than I would have otherwise chosen.

Mikey’s life changed forever on the day he found a baby shark in “The Mermaid’s Purse.” His childhood was full of neglect and abuse, so I was curious to see how he’d keep such an exotic pet alive despite the fact that he didn’t even have enough food or other necessities for himself. It was truly satisfying to see how hard he worked to keep him and new little friend going no matter what was going on around them. The ending was perfect. It tied together all of the loose ends of the plot nicely, and it also left me wondering what would happen to Mikey next.

Food of the Gods should be read by anyone who is in the mood for deeply creative science fiction.

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