Godly Heathens

Wednesday Bks. (The Ouroboros: Bk. 1). Nov. 2023. 400p. Tr $20. ISBN 9781250853615.
Gr 9 Up–Gem Echols, a Seminole nonbinary teen living in rural Georgia, may hook up with a lot of people but they only share their true self with one person—their NYC-based bestie Enzo. The only secret Gem keeps from Enzo is their dreams—strange and violent ones that have always seemed to straddle the waking world a little too much, one day breaking all the way through when Gem is attacked by an extremely terrifying girl claiming to be the Goddess of Death. Cue rescue by the newly arrived Willa Mae Hardy—irresistible and full of answers to all of Gem’s most personal questions. When Willa Mae reveals that she and Gem are actually reincarnated deities, it is also revealed that Gem may have made some other entities pretty angry the last time around, who intend to have their revenge. It’s a situation Gem would have been far more prepared for without the loss of their father and severed connection to their past. Nonetheless, they must find the weapon known as the Ouroboros first if Gem has any hope of survival. Far from a role model main character, Gem’s blasé attitude is sharply hilarious and contrasts with their deep anxiety and insecurity; moral ambiguity is made even more authentic by the informal tone and direct addresses that invite readers deep into Gem’s inner life. Gem’s struggles with feeling like an imposter in their own life are compounded by their father’s (and their own) mental illness (content warning for self-harm).
VERDICT A monstrously thrilling, deeply emotional, and mythologically rich fantasy about seizing your own power.

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