A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau
The novel takes place in a small town in Canada, where an evil god is dwelling, murder is commonplace and your neighbor is probably a necromancer, serial killer, or 100-year old cult member or any combination of the three. The two younger protagonists discover this at their peril, but I found it difficult to care much about their cause or well-being. I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, something other than a grisly murder described in great detail. I would hardly be surprised if Roberto Bolano’s 2666 inspired A God in the Shed in some fashion.
The core problem with A God in the Shed is simple: there’s no one to sympathize with and care about. The pages are filled with different shades of horrible people murdering women and children with impunity because we, the readers, are to believe that the town simply understands that crazy things happen and each month there is at least one murder. Ho hum, no big deal. Nothing to see here, folks. No one, not even the younger characters, reacts to murder, necromancy and magic with any sense of incredulity, shock or horror. They take it in stride as if someone told them that there is a thunderstorm on the way.
The plot never forces the characters into any interesting, thought-provoking decisions either, making the novel unfold like a meandering mountain road that never quite leads anywhere. If you’re looking for a satisfying story that gives way to an equally satisfying conclusion, you will not find it here. I kept waiting for the younger characters to be in danger for the transgressions of their ancestors and their deals with the god but the novel never coalesced outside of my own imagination.
The person that blurbed about this novel comparing it to the first season of True Detective should be simultaneously praised and condemned for spouting such a wonderfully misleading piece of marketing bait. This novel doesn’t come anywhere close to the foreboding, cosmic dread of True Detective even at its best. At its worst it’s a gore-soaked B-horror movie you watched in the ’80s. I’m no prude but this novel tested my patience. If you’re in the mood for hundreds of pages describing things like the exhuming of a little girl’s corpse so a man can punch spikes through her eyes and feet, or scenes where young boys and girls and innocent women are murdered, disemboweled and used as painting supplies, this, my friend, is going to be your jam.
- “A god of hate and death,” is repeated so many times in this novel, I think it would make a marvelous drinking game that would be much more entertaining than the novel itself. We get it, Dubeau.
- Similarly, I wondered how many times the word “blood” was used in the novel. Certainly on every page. Perhaps every two sentences or so.
- It’s safe to guess that 90% of the scenes in this novel feature some sort of violence and gore — anything from a broken nose all the way up to live evisceration and a character painting on a wall using a person’s squishy bits and bodily fluids. Yummy.
Slight spoilers ahead: And finally, If all it takes is a webcam to keep the god frozen and confined, why the hell didn’t the ever-precocious Venus inform “the good faction” that she discovered the answer to most of their problems? It would have been much safer and more legal than, say, murdering a new child or woman each month and putting their eyes onto sticks.