The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen

Title: The Faust Act
Series Title: The Wicked + The Divine
Author: Kieron Gillen
Illustrators: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles
Date Added: June 6, 2017
Date Started: August 2, 2018
Date Finished: August 7, 2018
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Mythology

Cover of The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust ActPages: 176
Publication Date: November 12, 2014
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Hardback (Library)

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. 

The story is fast paced and glamorous in this “gods incarnated into the bodies of youths” metaphor of celebrity culture.  It starts off with Lucifer

standing trial for murder, and the trial itself ending in an unexpected way (yes, even more unexpected than Phoenix Wright, though there is an explosion of sorts…).   It’s clever how once again Lucifer is being thrown under the bus for something he (in shtis case she) didn’t do (as in some interpretations/translations “Lucifer” was erroneously conflated with Satan, but this is something I need to do more research on).

The majority of the characters in this are POC including the main Laura who desperately wants into this world.

Laura Wilson, main character from The Wicked + The DivineThe cycle, or at least who’s chosen, seems perpetuated by Ananke who appears as an old woman.  She infuses people (usually teenagers from what I can tell) with the incarnation per what Luci explains, and this is the main reason Laura was at the Amaterasu concert.  Everyone wants to be a god, but no one wants to deal with the consequences.

The artwork in this graphic novel is absolutely gorgeous; McKelvie, Wilson, and Cowles definitely deserve all the props, but the story is vapid AF.  Before you castigate me and insist “That’s the point!” let me elaborate.  My assumption is that later volumes delve deeper into the reasons for the recurrence, but if this first one is meant as an introduction, it does a poor job at showing them as anything more than one-dimensional caricatures.

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The Sandman, Vol. 01: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman (The Sandman #1) (DNF)

Title: The Sandman, Vol. 01: Preludes & Nocturnes
Series Title: The Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Various
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: April 4, 2018
Date DNF: April 15, 2018
Reading Duration: 9 days
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Supernatural, Horror, Mythology

The Sandman: Preludes & NocturnesPages: 240
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 1989
Media: Paperback (Library)

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

I’d been wanting to read this for years, and since many of my friends love Neil Gaiman, it’s been recommended to me a number of times.  In theory the graphic novel has everything I love: mythology re-workings, old gods, darkness, horror, death rituals, releasing something ancient and seemingly evil, and sleeping all the time.  You know…my typical Saturday.  I actually couldn’t get into Gaiman’s writing when I first attempted either American Gods or Neverwhere years ago, but I really liked Stardust and absolutely loved The Ocean at the End of the Lanefinding after I read those, I was able to stomach AG more easily.  I think I just needed to get used to his style.  There’s also a novel illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano, who was the concept artist for Final Fantasy.

Sandman illustrated by AmanoI think it was Amano more than anything that encouraged me to seek this series out, and I erroneously believed the artist illustrated the entirety of Sandman.  Had that been the case, I probably would’ve finished not only the first one, but read them all, despite my issues with the narrative.

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The Mabinogion Tetralogy by Evangeline Walton

Title: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Authors: Anonymous, Evangeline Walton (translator), Betty Ballantine (Introduction)
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 31, 2016
Date Finished: May 6, 2017
Reading Duration: 281 days
Genre: Mythology/Welsh Mythology/Celtic Mythology/Irish Mythology, Fantasy, Classic

Pages: 720
Publication Date: April 1, 1980
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: The Chronicles of Prydain, The Raven Cycle

The retelling of the epic Welsh myth that is “certainly among the top 5 fantasy series of the twentieth century” (

The Mabinogion is to Welsh mythology what the tales of Zeus, Hera, and Apollo are to Greek myth. these tales constitute a powerful work of the imagination, ranking with Tokien’s Lord of the Rings novels and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Evangeline Walton’s compelling rendition of these classic, thrilling stories of magic, betrayal, lost love, and bitter retribution include the encounter between Prince Pwyll and Arawn, the God of Death, which Pwyll survives by agreeing to kill the one man that Death cannot fell, and the tale of bran the blessed and his family’s epic struggle for the throne.

The Mabinogion is internationally recognized as the world’s finest arc of Celtic mythology; Walton’s vivid retelling introduces an ancient world of gods and monsters, heroes, kings and quests, making accessible one of the greatest fantasy sagas of all time.

******Warning: Some mentions of rape as it pertains to the narrative.******

I first cut my teeth on Welsh Mythology with The Prydain Chronicles of Lloyd Alexander, books written for children, and rife with the myths of that land.  It was where I first saw the name “Gwydion” and heard the term “Son of Don” and “Math Son of Mathonwy.”  At the time I though Don and Mathonwy were the names of their fathers since lineage now and still flows through the father, but at that point in the history of Wales, the name of the mother was the line of kings.

Prydain did an excellent job of introducing the rich mythological history of Wales, and Mr. Alexander (who is actually from around my area) cited the Mabinogion as one of his sources, but as it was a children’s book, The Chronicles barely scratched the surface of the myths’ depths.  Though I read the series years ago (and haven’t had a chance to reread it again), I remembered the name of the source, and when the opportunity presented, obtained a copy of the volume in question.

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By the Sea by Katherine McIntyre

Title: By the Sea
Author: Katherine McIntyre
Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 77
Publication Date: June 13, 2014
Media Type: Kindle

“Most kids had imaginary friends, but most weren’t like Megan’s friend Niall. There were rules: only at night and only by the sea. She could’ve sworn he was real, but when someone vanishes without a trace, what else can you believe?

All that was seven years ago, buried in the past until Niall shows up in town with his tight swimmer’s body and easy smile. For Megan, just the sight of him is enough to tear open a scar that never fully healed. However, their reunion only elicits more questions. Niall’s keeping secrets, unbelievable ones, and as Megan delves into the supernatural depths of who he really is, she’s sure he’ll vanish again.

Megan’s not stupid—she knows how bad it’ll hurt if she gets involved. The first time Niall disappeared, she never thought she’d recover. But the moment they lock eyes, it’s too late—because Megan will go to any length to see that boy smile.”

I generally hate surprises unless it comes to stories. Being well versed in general mythology, I know the lore about selkies: human to seal shapeshifters who leave their seal pelts behind when the change. This leaves them vulnerable to theft of their true identity, for a selkie without his seal skin is only half whole. This is the foundation of By the Sea.

Like many young girls Megan has an imaginary friend; the only difference is hers is real. Then he disappears making Megan doubt her sanity and her worth. Now several years later, while working as a waitress, she notices something odd about her new coworker, and it doesn’t take her long to realize he’s her “imaginary friend” Niall. Initially angry and betrayed until Niall explains the reason for his desertion and also entreats her for help in restoring him to his full self.

I was pleasantly surprised by the twist in this story, for I’ve never seen this combination of fae before. The antagonist is terrifying and makes the story take quite a dark turn, putting both Niall and Megan in horrifying danger, and shattering her perceptions of the real world.

This story is well written with an almost whimsical tone to begin. The language leads you to think of the sea, breathy and light to glide alongside the loss the main character feels. The tension is heightened beautifully at the dire moments where you feel the same terror as the characters, doubly Megan whose suddenly thrown into a world she never knew existed. Their romance is sweet and almost childlike, as if Megan is still dealing with unresolved issues from that time, but it fits perfectly due to Niall’s true nature. They can both grow together. Him in the aftermath, no longer trapped but a willing denizen of her sphere, and her now privy to the secrets of his nature.

5 stars.




The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (The Golem and the Jinni #1) (DNF)

This is an unfinished book review as I did not complete the book in question.  Sometimes a story doesn’t hold my interest enough or there’s a a fatal flaw in the writing that makes it impossible for me to read; however, I feel that I should still put up my impressions of the story and explain why I was unable to make it through.  These reviews will vary in length depending on how much of the novel I was able to complete.

Title: The Golem and the Jinni
Series Title: The Golem and the Jinni
Author: Helene Wecker
Genre: Fantasy

The Golem and the Jinni CoverPages: 486
Publication Date: April 2013
Media Type: Kindle

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

I was brought to Helene Wecker’s novel on the recommendation of a friend and fellow writing. After reading the blurb, I became a bit pre-enthralled because of the mention of Kabablistic magic, since I have the Tree of Life tattooed on my right arm.

The Golem and the Jinni follows the plight of Chava, a golem left alone in the world after her master dies at sea, and then moves to Ahmad, a jinni born of fire in the ancient Syrian desert. I downloaded a sample and read through, but something bothered me; something was lacking, though I couldn’t figure out what. So I searched through reviews and found mostly fours/fives before I stumbled upon a three. Here hid my kindred spirit who pointed out the tale’s lack of passion. That was it. That’s what was missing. The story was fine; the words more than serviceable, but there was no flame beneath, a sad lack for a novel partially about a fire entity. The author knows how to put words together, but never infused anything into them. I was quite disappointed, because I really, really wanted to like this story.

The sample ended not long after the introduction of Ahmad the jinni, and I toyed with the idea of buying the novel because I was interested in what happened to the characters, but the lack of passion stilled my hand. This would be a story that I would look up the synopsis for on Wikipedia rather than spend my time reading.  If you’re able to look past the missing passion I am sure it’s a more than adequate tale.

2 stars.







Question of the Week: 7/17/16

<–Question of the Week: 7/10/16          Question of the Week: 7/24/16–>

The Question of the Week is posted every Sunday and will consist of a question followed by my answer and explanation to the same.  Some questions will only require a simple answer that could potentially be followed by an explanation.  Many questions will be writer oriented, but not all.  Everyone is encouraged to answer in the comments and discussions/follow up questions are more than welcome!

What’s your favorite/most influential non-fiction book?

Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

The Hero’s Journey is a universal motif found in stories and narratives across genres, media, and the ages.  It’s hard for me to express how influential and magnificent this volume is, but I consistently assert it’s something everyone should read, especially those of us involved or interested in creative projects.  It solidifies many of my ideas about the universality of stories and how there are ties that bind them all together, connected by motifs, tropes, and paradigms that feed off both the zeitgeist and collective unconscious.

This book is one of the best sources of connectivity I’ve ever found. It prompted me make this macro using the hero’s path quote, words that will never cease in their resonance.

“…we have not even to risk the adventure alone;
for the heroes of all time have gone before us;
the labyrinth is thoroughly known;
we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination,
we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another:
we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward,
we shall come to the center of our own existence;
and where we had thought to be alone,
we shall be with all the world.”

I can with almost complete certainty say that this is my favorite quote of all time, and Hero has been one of the most influential and useful volumes to me as a writer.  I have plans to read more of his work such as The Power of Myth and Primitive Mythology (though I have some trepidation about what that might entail).

What’s your favorite and/or most influential non-fiction book?  How has it helped you with endeavors (creative or otherwise)?

I look forward to your answers in the comments!

<–Question of the Week: 7/10/16          Question of the Week: 7/24/16–>