Going into CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, I knew very little about Mesopotamia and even less about Mesopotamian mythology. I loved getting a glimpse into the myths of Ishtar, Nergal, Gilgamesh, Erishkigal, and more. Author Sarwat Chadda brings them to life in a powerful way, and I particularly appreciated the fun moment of Sik fanboying over Gilgamesh. Readers are also treated to a few incredible conflict scenes between or involving the gods that are full of exciting imagery and heart pumping stakes.
Among the pillars of legends, however, is a story very grounded in the harshness of reality. Sik is grieving over the loss of his brother, Mo, and trying to sort through the feelings of love, jealousy, and even a little resentment he had for him, the brother who always went on adventures but never took Sik. Belet, Sik's friend and daughter of Ishtar, is hurting in her own way as she strives to gain the attention of her mother and prove herself worthy of the goddess of war. Even Ishtar herself, along with famed hero Gilgamesh, carry the weight of centuries of history around with them, of war and strife and violence. No matter your immortality status, you never become immune to grief or pain. These heavy themes are approached in a caring and compassionate way with perfectly placed comic relief throughout.
CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD is a heart-pounding, high action ride of Mesopotamian myth, family, friendship, and heroism, accompanied, of course, by a plague or two along the way.