In the Godkiller universe, my energy would probably create a god of pets to ensure my dog’s health and longevity or maybe a tea god to aid my daily brewing. There’s no doubt that a god of books would exist with all the activity we have here at The Quill to Live. Stick with me, this will all make sense shortly, I promise.
Hannah Kaner’s debut novel takes us on a journey with a trio of characters who must seek out shunned gods for answers in a world bubbling with unrest. The people in Middren have given life to gods of all shapes, sizes, and purposes, and before the war, they worshipped openly and freely. When King Arren and his godkillers win the war, gods are outlawed and he sends his godkillers to kill any that remain. However, deities continue to manifest and collect followers throughout the country because the king cannot stop people from believing in the powerful beings that protect and serve them. As the threat of another war looms, a knight, a godkiller, and a little girl with a god problem are thrown together on a secret pilgrimage to Blenraden, the lost city and final resting place of the gods.
The book begins with a horrific scene where neighbors have drugged a family and set them on fire as a sacrifice to please their god. This scene immediately strikes a serious tone, but when the story fades to black and cuts to the present day, the intensity fizzles out and the book turns into a typical coming-of-age story. In Godkiller, people poured so much love and faith into resources, feelings, trades, and characteristics that they created a god for everything and then the king tried to take it all away. The king is actively trying to police people’s thoughts and beliefs, but the author shuns worldbuilding and instead focuses on a 12-year-old girl trying to find her place in the world. The book becomes an entertaining adventure story, and as a result, the world loses its meaning and impact. Kaner alludes to an intriguing world here but not enough time is dedicated to exploring it, and it becomes the thing characters move through instead of interacting with.
The Godkiller realm is complicated because there are so many gods with varying strengths, and each god prefers their own form of worship from collecting trinkets to full-on sacrifices. Their relationship with followers also varies depending on the god’s personality. So what you get is a melting pot of believers with lots of different motives who all feel justified in their actions. The book does not fully capture how chaotic this scenario would be. There are no apparent consequences or rules because the followers are able to do as they wish to worship any god they please. It’s an interesting premise, but Kaner does it a disservice by failing to provide commentary and explore the nuance of this world.
Godkiller also had a hard time balancing the story between its three POVs. Kessin and Inara dominate the beginning and middle of the story, and it seems that their fates are deeply intertwined. At the story’s onset, Elogast’s participation is infrequent and slots in nicely as a smaller arc complementing the larger plot. Kissen and Inara hold the reins for most of the story until about the 80% mark when it decides that Elogast’s quest is more important. At this point, we’ve invested a lot of time in the issues plaguing Inara, but they are quickly resolved so the attention can be shifted to Elogast. The switch is abrupt and confusing, with characters breaking promises and throwing everything they’ve stubbornly held onto for the entirety of the book so they can properly serve the culmination of Elogast’s drama. I liked Elogast and his role, but I was not expecting to give him closure when there is so much mystery and weight given to Inara’s story.
Godkiller by Hannah Kaner has a strong story and interesting concept at its core, but it frequently fails to dig deep and explore the complicated world and people living within it. While it was initially intriguing, the book left me with many unsatisfying conclusions, particularly with Inara, that signaled the end of my time with this series.
Rating: Godkiller – 6.0/10