FOOD OF THE GODS by CASSANDRA KHAW
PB, 238 pages, Abbadon
Buy Food of the Gods on Amazon.
Gods : powerful enemies, dubious friends, terrible employers.
Former triad turned cannibal chef Rupert Wong earns a living cooking the flesh of the dead for the delectation and culinary delight of the various ghouls of Kuala Lumpur. Rupert owes a debt to the Lord of Hell that he’s working to pay off, but he also takes meticulous pride in his work, until the day he’s dragged into a war between rival pantheons and has to take on both the old gods and the new.
Rupert shouldn’t be a likable character. He really shouldn’t. Anyone who lovingly describes how to cook and serve dismembered…erm…member like he’s come straight from the Hannibal Lector School of Charm shouldn’t be someone we are rooting for. But Rupert has lost everything, been screwed over at every turn by the gods he serves, and while his morals might be shady his sense of justice burns as hot as an oven. Plus he’s funny. You can forgive a guy a lot if he makes you laugh while he’s fricasseeing fingers. In places Food of the Gods is literally a bloody riot.
It’s not reading for the faint of stomach, but the horror is borderline and laced with humour and drama as murder-mystery becomes all-out war and Rupert is entangled with a cast of characters both from established myth and straight out of the writer’s brain – I particularly liked the God of Being Missing and the divine embodiment of Bad Debt. And the Cat. The Cat is ace.
I got the impression that is was originally four novellas that have been melding together to form a short novel, and the transitions between the sections felt a little awkward because of that. I would have liked the book to be longer, more fleshed out (ha!) and I’d love to see more of this unusual, visceral UF world that Cassandra Khaw has created. She’s a prolific writer, so hopefully there will be more from Rupert Wong soon, as it feels we’ve only scratched the skin of the story here. I want more meat on them bones!