Review – Over a God’s Dead Body

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When I purchased this book it had an image of a rather generic Eye of Horus on the title. Sometime between then and when I finally got around to reading it, the title had changed again, this time to a duck that looked like it had a wound of some sort on its body and a colander on its head. Neither of these images do well to set the tone for the book, or give an idea of what to expect.
From there, I listened to the first chapter, in which a professor of a school and a Sasquatch were having a romantic evening together, dressed up in costume before Halloween and on their way from a frat party. They decide to get intimate. This scene also didn’t do a great job of setting me up for what to expect… at first. It was a well written introduction, sure, but it also made me worry I was reading gay literotica and not a “supernatural comedy” as the book had promised.
Rest assured, not only does this scene quickly go south for the main characters, but it manages to not only set the tone for the entire book but create one of the running gags of the story: whether sasquatch have “a normal human penis” or a “red rocket dick.”
The fact that, as of this writing, Joel Sprigg’s dark comedy only has 32 reviews is a travesty. I found this book as a suggested indie read, but I would argue it would hold its own if it came from a publishing house and was sold at your local bookstore. It’s a clever romp. At times it’s horrifically bawdy; at other times it manages to be quirky and fun. I found myself laughing out loud suddenly and embarrassingly as I listened to the audio book at work through earbuds; my coworkers must have thought I was going even more crazy than I already was. This book is a proverbial diamond in the rough, and I can’t recommend it enough.
The set-up is simple: there’s a college that teaches “Predernatural Sciences” that also happens to have the remains of the Ancient Egyptian God Horus. This is of interest to Seth, God of Deserts and Chaos, who wants to ensure the remains are destroyed so he can continue his rule. Should Isis get her hands on the remains, she’s going to do what she did in mythology past and hop on that dead penis and make herself pregnant again. Seth is a bit of a control freak asshat who isn’t about to give up so easily, of course, and he has a couple of aces up his sleeve. The biggest of these options might just be “Yes That Loki” from Nordic Lore. Loki is indebted to Seth, so is willing to do whatever it takes to please him… except not, because he’s Loki. Also, in his search for the body of Horus, he discovers he has two living human relatives: his great grandchildren. One of them, Esmy, works in IT and over the course of the story will apply tech logic and math skills to the magic she can learn. The other, Jake, seems not that interested in the magical world, and approaches every magical problem as if it could be solved with necromancy… so it is completely fitting when it turns out he’s got an army of undead ducks at his disposal. On another track, there’s a woman so desperate to sell girl scout cookies she uses ancient voodoo; she finds herself getting vengeance towards the end of the book in the most remarkable of ways. There’s also the Canadian beekeeper with the van that has a wizard doing the deed with a unicorn. Yes, that’s a thing. All of these personalities and more bob, weaves, and swerve forward until their inevitable clash.
This book uses set pieces perfectly. There isn’t much of anything that comes up during the beginning of the book that isn’t important later on: a half-eaten banana in one story arc greatly affects the lives of protagonists in another arc, for example. In another example, a throw away line about how to kill a T-Rex becomes exceptionally important. Joel Sprigg does an excellent job of weaving all of these pieces of story together and it truly is rewarding.
The book isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of dialogue where the way of this world is told to the reader, instead of shown. A lot of backstory is kind of dumped on the reader this way. Some of this lore is amusing and some of it is dry, but all of it feels vomited and that can be a huge turn-off for readers. There’s also something to be said for the fact that while I found the humor enjoyable it’s arguably not for everyone. It has a few remarkably gory moments, which are sometimes played for humor but are never particularly pleasant. The book is a solid ending, but a twist of sorts at the end makes it clear this is the first of a series and while that’s fair for most it could also be a turn-off for others.
But a delicious omelette that mixes all of its ingredients together splendidly might get some of its cheese burned; this doesn’t stop it from being a delicious omelette. Over a God’s Dead Body is just that – delicious. The book has been compared favorably to works from Terry Pratchett to Niel Gaiman’s American Gods, and to an extent I think that’s fair. But it’s also compared favorably to Joel Spriggs, the guy who wrote this book, because in many ways it stands out on its own.
I would not be surprised to discover 5 or 10 years ago the rights to this book have been purchased for an HBO short. I’d encourage you all to read it before then. Plus, it’s like $3 (with the audio book being on sale for $7.50 after e-book purchase) which is so cheap clearly the occult is to blame. Spend your coffee money for a day on this book instead; it’ll fill your day up better and make you laugh harder.

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