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October 17, 2014

Loved It: The Younger Gods by Michael R. Underwood

Series: Younger Gods 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 13, 2014
Publisher: Pocket Star
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The first in a new series from the author of Geekomancy (pop culture urban fantasy) and Shield and Crocus (New Weird superhero fantasy).

Jacob Greene was a sweet boy raised by a loving, tight-knit family…of cultists. He always obeyed, and was so trusted by them that he was the one they sent out on their monthly supply run (food, medicine, pig fetuses, etc.).

Finding himself betrayed by them, he flees the family’s sequestered compound and enters the true unknown: college in New York City. It’s a very foreign place, the normal world and St. Mark’s University. But Jacob’s looking for a purpose in life, a way to understand people, and a future that breaks from his less-than-perfect past. However, when his estranged sister arrives in town to kick off the apocalypse, Jacob realizes that if he doesn’t gather allies and stop the family’s prophecy of destruction from coming true, nobody else will.


Hey y'all! There's a new superhero in town and his name is Jacob Greene, he wields dark magic but uses it for good. His family is one of the most powerful and loyal servants of darkness, bent on ending the Age of Man to usher a new age where The Younger Gods will rule with the Greenes of North Dakota some sort of regents. But something happened and Jacob no longer wants to be part of his family's legacy after his family killed his bestfriend on prom night. He then ran away to New York, assumed a new name, went to college and pretended to be normal until his sister came to visit, leaving devastation and dead bodies in her wake, all because she wanted to wake the Younger Gods. Now it's up to Jacob to stop her but is he strong enough to do so?

Michael R. Underwood always writes these quirky fantasies with dorky endearing characters for heroes. THE YOUNGER GODS is another example of it with a few enhancements to make it a kick-ass urban fantasy. The myth isn't your typical angels and demons trope, Mr. Underwood tweaked things, gave it his own stamp, creating a whole new breed of Underworld magic and monsters. The action was very fast paced like a video game and the events spanning a matter of days, death toll to the ceiling, destruction in the billions, Jacob & Co. barely have a breath to spare. The imagery was vivid, the cosmology brilliant, and the conflict-resolution was shocking in a way where it didn't go the way I thought it would. 

As for Jacob Greene, he reminded me a lot of David Stutler in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Lanky, socially awkward, nerdy, he's the last person you'd expect to save the world yet it's this normalcy that made him such a delightful hero to follow. The secondary cast was very diverse and also gave off the same vibe as Jacob meaning they're not exactly the Alpha-Beta crew you usually see in UF novels. As a group they're pretty competent in stopping Jacob's sister, Esther, however they took a lot of hits on their team because Esther is a big, bad, powerful BITCH! I mean the girl can make Satan fall in love with her and propose! On a personal note, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Underwood. In case you're reading this, THANK YOU for making Tessane a beautiful and interesting possible love interest for Jacob and for getting the manananggal monster myth accurate. I'm Filipino and I'm happy that you made my kind of minority a good thing. 

THE YOUNGER GODS is another winning novel by Michael R. Underwood, it's a synthesis of fantasy, demonology, and RPG-like missions matched with a very unique cosmology, very entertaining, very engaging. I also liked the sort of open-ended conclusion, very speculative and encourages the readers to know more about the Younger Gods and Jacob Greene & his family's role in the big picture. Lastly, you probably noticed that I used the word "very" a lot and that's because THE YOUNGER GODS is very good. I highly recommend it to fan boys and girls, fantasy readers, and gamers.




CHAPTER
FIVE

Igbe, the red spirit, was like a wolfhound on a leash, straining constantly against Antoinette’s metaphysical lead. It concealed
its physical form, but I could still sense its whipping, darting motions with the wind, a mild scent of turned earth left in its wake.
The spirit led us through Brooklyn Heights, down Fulton, and then hurried along Flatbush.
“Do you know where we are heading?” I asked Antoinette as I hustled along, both of us nearly jogging to keep pace with the spirit.
“Looks like Prospect Park,” Antoinette said.
I tried to plot a line between Prospect Park and Central Park, running scenarios in my mind to deduce whether this was a ritual site or was in fact the home of the Brooklyn Heart.
Each city had a Heart, an embodied gem, usually fist- sized, that contained the essence of that city, the key to its metaphysical existence. Some cities had multiple Hearts, like London or Shanghai, all depending on their size.
New York had five, one for each borough. And Esther would need all of them to open the third circle.
And once that was open, she could take to the Deeps and wake the fetal god from its gestational slumber.
Moving through the park, I tried to look nonchalant, like the joggers I’d seen around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I paid no mind to the fact that I was not wearing the traditional jogger uniform of neon-colored skintight fabric and brightly-colored athletic shoes. New York was a city of oddities, and I hoped that oddity would conceal me as well.
Still, we drew a number of eyes on our way to the park. Fortunately, no pursuers.
“What would she want in the park?” I asked. “Is the Heart here?”
“No. It’s with friends. And they can handle themselves.” “Many have underestimated the Greenes and paid with
their lives. There is an account of a duel in 1832 between a Chicago magus and my great-great-aunt—”
“She’s bad news, I get that. But these friends are the most powerful circle of magicians in New York. They’ve got this,” Antoinette said, taking a turn as Igbe led us toward the park entrance.
When we reached the park, Igbe stopped to consider, turning end over end.
The crowds beside the park were sparse, as the spirit was not the only wind in the air. A chill wind sapped the warmth from my bones.
“Where now?” I asked, facing Antoinette, though the answer would come from her bound spirit.
Igbe stopped, a whorl of air settling on the concrete sidewalk. Then at once, the wet yellow-brown leaves set off in a rush toward the park, showing the creature’s path.
Less than five minutes into the park, Igbe started snarling and barking. It had stepped closer to our world, its red wispy form flowing as it moved. “She’s here! Faster! I’ll tear her throat out!”
Antoinette and I broke into a full run, chasing the spirit through the pathways that wound beneath the nearly barren trees.
Igbe turned a corner, and as I slowed to make the turn myself, lacking the agility of the incorporeal, I saw another spirit waiting atop a moss-covered rock the size of a small automotive.
This spirit was the mottled brown of mud, and it was large. I felt the air grow thick with energy.
I searched the horizon for my sister, hoping I might be able to bypass the incipient melee and pursue her directly. But beyond the mud-brown spirit, the path split in two. And without Igbe’s guidance, I would be hunting blind, casting the stones and hoping for luck.
With a roar that I heard with my soul more than my ears, the mud-brown spirit pounced on Igbe. The smaller spirit grew more concrete, a canine form slipping past the larger spirit’s grasp.
Antoinette stayed back, fishing through her jacket for something.
In the park, it could only be an earth spirit, a tree spirit, or one of the higher spirits of the park itself. My studies of New York led me to believe that Prospect Park was not as known for violence as Central Park, so it would not likely be a spirit of death. But New York was a city of many moods, many lives.
I sorted the factors and possibilities as I rummaged through the canvas bag Antoinette had provided me.
Deciding on a tactic, I brought out the topaz pendant, the opals in my left hand. Drawing from the opals, I channeled the power through my body and into the topaz, giving it shape and function.
Beside me, Antoinette chanted methodically in French, other words even more unfamiliar mixed into her Haitian creole.
The magic of the Greenes was older, more primordial compared to that of most practitioners. Through our connection to the Gatekeepers, masters of the center of the world, Esther touched the Deeps, the darkness between atoms, the power at the primal core of the earth. An apt comparison would be to say that where a magician might work with diesel to fuel their magic, our power source was closer to nuclear. Esther would outpower me every step of the way, but even a diesel engine can run a bulldozer.
Using the topaz as my focus, I shaped the power from the opals. I envisioned an arrow the size of my arm, thick and sturdy. Silver-and-white energy coalesced around the topaz, and I cast my hand toward the spirit.
The bolt shot out, biting dearly into the spirit at the shoulder. Its coloring faded a shade; the creature’




Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the Geek, Shield and Crocus, and The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. He has a BA in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies, and an MA in Folklore Studies. Mike has been a bookseller, a barista, a game store cashwrap monkey, and an independent publishers’ representative. Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancĂ©e, an ever-growing library, and a super-team of dinosaur figurines and stuffed animals. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. In his rapidly vanishing free time, Mike studies historical martial arts and makes homemade pizza.


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27 comments:

  1. Okay, I have to admit, this sounds pretty badass.

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  2. Sounds awesome! I might have to go buy this right now.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. Oh I'll impatiently wait for your review

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  3. I like that the protagonist is male, because I really need more of 'em in my life, and the RPG-style missions just sound downright cool. And, did I see wolfhound in that excerpt?? Way to make me add another YA title to my reading pile, Braine! That takes SKILL.

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    1. Hahaha! Just returning the favor, Carmel, just returning the favor

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  4. Replies
    1. It's very unique, worth exploring. I know you're reading out of your zone lately, I hope this makes the list

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  5. The quirky fantasies has my attention

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    1. His way of writing fantasy is really different and his heroes are always on the geeky side

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  6. This is a new author for me, but I love the sound of this one, Dorky characters? Yes Please. Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway chance. Happy weekend.

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    1. I love geeks in all shapes and forms, if I can have them as superheroes then all the better

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  7. Well, you got my attention. That is new and different. Thanks for sharing about it.

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  8. There is something absolutely endearing about a lanky, awkward, nerd-boy. It's enough to make me want to read this book. I also like the RPG-like missions. It makes for a heart-pounding read. :)

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    1. I'm over the muscled, gorgeous, heroes, let's bring it down a notch and give them super brains instead

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  9. It sounded interesting but I confess that I didn't know if I should ask for it or not when it was on NG but I finally didn't. Maybe it was a mistake, it sounds really good!

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    1. You can always buy it if you get too curious :)

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  10. Sounds like another great find Braine! I just added it to my list.
    Thanks, I can see me enjoying this one.

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    1. I hope you do! I love the male POV and as it's written by a guy author, Jacob's voice is very authentic if you know what I mean.

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  11. This sounds very exciting. I'm not much of a gamer but I can see myself reading this :)

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    1. Huh, where's Ana? She'll most likely like this

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  12. Hello...this sounds fantastic Braine.

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  13. I hadn't heard of this author before, Braine. I do love angels and demons and that Mr. Underwood puts his own stamp on the trope is very appealing. I'm glad that you found The Younger Gods to be *very* good! ;)

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  14. I enjoyed the books I've read by him before, will check this out - hadn't heard of this one :D

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  15. I'm liking what I'm hearing of this one. Glad to see you enjoyed it as well. :) Thank you!

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