Among the Lesser Gods
by Margo Catts
Hardcover: 336 pages
Arcade PublishingFor fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.
“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”
Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.
Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.
But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.
Growing up, grains of family history dissolved into my pool of knowledge without me noticing, the same way salt dissolves in water, the same way you can’t remember anyone ever telling you that school starts in the fall.
Beauty from ashes, right here. Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough and it gets real hard to tell them apart.
I was kind of a bratty teenager… I know, hard to believe. But when I was sulky my mom used to say that not talking about stuff is like growing mold… Talking airs it out. You still have the stuff, but it keeps it from getting furry and gross.
A jumble of scenes crowded into my head like shoppers shoving through the door for a clearance sale.
I left the house like a refugee from a natural disaster. The torrent of judgments and absolutes had washed the ground out from underneath me. Fragile ground, apparently, because I’d never had a problem like this before.
Among the Lesser Gods was a thoughtful and moody tale that sucked me down a 70’s era rabbit hole and kept me there. I was fully engaged and fascinated by this odd collection of peculiar, broken, and difficult characters who were separately struggling with their various problems including a default setting of poor choices, family issues, and new and long-term grief. Each major household was at a crossroads with unspoken histories, vexing issues, and limited options. And each had unique yet topical and relatable tribulations. I was captivated, intrigued, and lured into their mysterious quagmires like a magnet to metal. Their limited awareness and incomplete histories slowly came together to coincidentally shine the light on a long-held family mystery that had spiraled into a local myth. I stumbled along with them as they learned hard and painful lessons and surprised themselves by working through their most perplexing issues. Ms. Catt’s writing was engrossing, observantly insightful, emotive, and richly textured with colorful and vivid descriptions that painted complete scenes with her words. Despite the tension and angst, I savored her story from beginning to end.