Thursday, December 12, 2013

Whom the Gods Would Destroy, by Brian Hodge

DarkFuse, ISBN 9781940544137, December 2013

Damien grew up a stranger in his own family, useless baggage in the eyes of his mother and older brother. Beyond just feeling unwanted, his earliest memory is of nightmarish events involving his mother and brother. And so as soon as he can, while barely into his teens, he quietly joins a far more normal, supportive family, and cuts all contact with the family that has no interest in him anyway. Thirteen years later, he's a happy astronomy student, studying the universe and valuing the experience of being a small part of the cosmos.

Then his brother turns up, with a story about wanting to make amends, and a discovery of alien life. It is, he promises, an incredible opportunity.

While Damien doesn't altogether believe or trust him, he can't let go of the idea of how it will eat at him to not even take the chance of finding out. He and his brother set out from Seattle to Portland.

What happens there sends him searching for his family's dark secrets, including who and what his mother really is.

This story is as much horror as science fiction, and horror isn't normally my thing. This is an extremely well done novella, though, with characters and plot nicely developed with no wasted words. Anyone who has ever felt that they were the less favored sibling, true or not, will recognize Damien's nightmare version of that experience. Added to that is his reaction to the terrible dilemma he finds himself in, someone who desperately wants to be a normal, ordinary young man, confronted with an Earth-shaking threat no one else will believe.

Recommended, especially if you like horror.

I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley.