Godly Heathens: A Novel (The Ouroboros, #1)

Godly Heathens: A Novel (The Ouroboros, #1)
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Release Date
November 28, 2023
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Godly Heathens is the first book in H.E. Edgmon's YA contemporary fantasy duology The Ouroboros, in which a teen, Gem, finds out they’re a reincarnated god from another world.

Maybe I have always just been bad at being human because I’m not one.

Gem Echols is a nonbinary Seminole teen living in the tiny town of Gracie, Georgia. Known for being their peers’ queer awakening, Gem leans hard on charm to disguise the anxious mess they are beneath. The only person privy to their authentic self is another trans kid, Enzo, who’s a thousand long, painful miles away in Brooklyn.

But even Enzo doesn’t know about Gem’s dreams, haunting visions of magic and violence that have always felt too real. So how the hell does Willa Mae Hardy? The strange new girl in town acts like she and Gem are old companions, and seems to know things about them they’ve never told anyone else.

When Gem is attacked by a stranger claiming to be the Goddess of Death, Willa Mae saves their life and finally offers some answers. She and Gem are reincarnated gods who’ve known and loved each other across lifetimes. But Gem – or at least who Gem used to be - hasn’t always been the most benevolent deity. They’ve made a lot of enemies in the pantheon―enemies who, like the Goddess of Death, will keep coming.

It’s a good thing they’ve still got Enzo. But as worlds collide and the past catches up with the present, Gem will discover that everyone has something to hide.

Editor review

1 review
intriguing YA fantasy
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GODLY HEATHENS is a YA fantasy that follows Gem, a nonbinary teen who has always had strange dreams. When a new girl, Willa Mae, arrives in town looking specifically for them, Gem learns that they are actually a god and embroiled in a multigenerational conflict that has been passed through their bloodline.

To escape this heritage, Gem will need to remember their past to find what needs to be found and carve a new path as themselves. This is even harder than it seems with vengeful gods following them closely.

What I loved: This was a really imaginative story, and I was incredibly interested in the mythology and histories of thread gods and their family lines. The current teens carrying these were also fascinating with their own quirks and motives, influenced heavily by their troubled pasts.

Themes of found family, complicated family relationships, mental illness, multigenerational trauma, religion, LGBTQ issues, honesty, and morality were all really thought-provoking. Aside from Gem, there were several other LGBTQ characters that provided excellent rep as well as indigenous rep that helped to show these cultures and struggles. While this was a fantasy, it was rooted in the present and so had a magical realism feel that worked well.

What left me wanting more: The story felt slow moving at first, especially as I needed to reread sections in order to understand them around the mythology and characters. It was easy to get lost amidst the different generations and powers, especially in the first half.

Final verdict: GODLY HEATHENS is an intriguing YA fantasy with great themes and rep.
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