Food of the Gods

      Food of the Gods

      Publisher: Abbadon Books 

      RRP: £4.99

      Author: Cassandra Khaw 

      Published:  2017-05-04

 

 

 


By day, Rupert Wong – former triad soldier and sorcerer turned chef – prepares delicious meals from human meat for a dynasty of powerful ghouls in Kuala Lumpur; by night, he’s a seneschal and arbitrator for the Ten Chinese Hells. It’s a living, if not much of one. When Ao Qin – Dragon of the South, god of the seas – smashes in Rupert’s window and demands he investigate his daughter and her mortal husband’s murders, his peaceful (if not particularly comfortable) life comes to an end. Caught up in a war between pantheons, shipped around the world, going toe-to-toe with Elder Gods From Outside Space And Time, and always taking the time to read the fine print, Rupert’s going to need all his wits and a lot of luck to survive.


 

A lively page-turner with a touch of gore.

 

Food of the Gods is essentially a bind-up of two novellas previously published separately: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef and Rupert Wong and the Ends of The Earth. Both stories are highly engaging, and although they don't exactly lead directly one into the other, are more or less a linked narrative.

Cassandra Khaw serves up two literally visceral stories of our hapless hero Rupert Wong; the viscera in question being the contents of the abdomen - specifically the guts and less pleasant pieces - many of which the title character serves up to his employers, the ghouls. Khaw paints us a squalid world, grimy, broken down and inclined to get destroyed by the casual irritation of the more powerful powers-that-be. There's a lot of wry humour and the world is both elaborate and engaging in and of itself, populated not just with ghouls and gods but with ghosts – who grotesquely timeshare human skin - and other mythological beings.

Khaw drops the reader directly into the middle of events with little explanation or exposition, expecting them to work things out as they go along, much as she treats the character of Rupert Wong himself; every time the poor fellow he thinks he has a handle on what's going on with the metaphysical menagerie that he spends time with the rug gets pulled out from under him. Wong is struggling not just against the world he lives in now but to better his future afterlife – preferably avoiding the hells he is likely to inhabit, which he is already familiar with thanks to his diplomatic visits in an attempt to make deals with their residents. Everything about Wong’s (after)life is unrepentantly moving at high speed, with barely a moment to pause, sleep or enjoy a moment’s respite.

Rupert Wong proves the main attraction to Khaw’s story; everyone likes an underdog and Rupert is very entertaining with his cynical narration of the world he now lives in and his constant struggles against the variety of bizarre and terrible things that he encounters. Of almost equal attraction is Khaw’s use of mythology; whilst most of us in the West are at least passingly familiar with Christian imagery and British folklore, far fewer of us are well-versed in with Malaysian, Chinese and other South East Asian mythologies and it’s fantastic to be able to dive into the pantheons, ideas and stories of other cultures. As a bonus, Khaw includes a smattering of nods to classical Greek mythology, which invites the reader to unpick the references and compare and contrast with their more traditional incarnations.

Abaddon has a winner in Cassandra Khaw, and Food of the Gods is highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy; it’s a lively page-turner with a touch of gore – perfect for the odd rainy afternoon. Seek it out, and keep an eye on its author.


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