‘Somebody wants answers. North Devon, England. 1995. A Born-Again revival meeting in a public building. The usual mix of the Faithful, the curious, and the desperate. And one other… an atheist suicide bomber. He’s angry. He wants answers. And if God doesn’t come and talk to him personally, he’s going to kill everyone in the building…’ GodBomb! by Kit Power, pub Sinister Horror Company (ISBN 9780993279393)
That’s a hell of a concept, right there. Could take you in any direction, depending on your genre, but it’s got the potential to be a real gut-puncher. If it’s done well, of course. If the author can write. I snagged a copy of GodBomb! at the BFS FantasyCon last year, drawn by the striking cover and a steady bubbling of pre-release chatter on Facebook. It took me a while to get around to reading it, but it was always there on the book-shelf, ticking away. Let’s face it, it was only a matter of time…
GodBomb! is simple, startling, and powerful stuff. I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t think there would be enough story to fill out a novel – even a slender one like this. Just shows how wrong you can be. The author jumps between several viewpoint characters – a shrewd move when your stage is this rich in psychological turmoil – giving us full access to the drama as it unfolds. Each mind we inhabit sets empathic hooks into us: wheelchair-bound Deborah, dragged from charlatan to charlatan by desperate parents; sax-player Mike, seeking redemption for a life of addiction; pregnant Emma, Faithful, loving, and terribly afraid; rebellious Alex, Out, proud and determined to change the world. Their lives (and a few others) start to mean something to us, and, as we learn their back-stories and weigh their worth, it becomes clear that they mean something to the bomber too.
The other element I didn’t think he could maintain was tension. I mean, there’s a guy with a bomb. How long can you have it not go off before you start shrugging your shoulders and betting that it won’t? And then if it does go off? Well, that’s your story done. Again, how wrong can I be? (And how often? See the knocks I take for you people?) I am in awe as to how Kit manages to sustain his grip on the reader, using characters and incident to probe the fragile boundaries of their dreadful dilemma. There’s a lot of talking, a lot of thinking, a lot of sweating in this book, but there are also several key moments when the terrorist feels the need to reassert himself, and these are swift, brutal and nerve-wracking to the extreme. No-one is safe.
Some authors get nervy around certain subjects, others toss stuff around like shock-grenades for laughs, revelling in the word-wrought outrage they create without a thought for their real human readers. Kit is a different kind of writer altogether: challenging, yet respectfully so. Religious faith, homosexuality, disability, addiction – he sets his trip-wires fearlessly, then dances his story across them with all the delicacy and grace of a spider. At its heart this is a story about human beings making connections, coming together in spite of their fear. There are no Mary Sue’s here, and no moral high-grounds. Is Judgement coming? Is Justice real? And more importantly, what does it cost us?
I’m delighted to say that Kit Power does justice and more to his premise, delivering a scalding hot pot-boiler with economy and a real finesse. GodBomb! will grip you. It will haunt you. It will leave you trembling, and troubled. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.
GS Rating: 5/5
GS Blogger: Dion Winton-Polak
Despite having the coolest name on the planet, the chances are this is the first time you’ve heard of Kit Power. It won’t be the last. You can pick up GodBomb! direct from The Sinister Horror Company, postage and packaging inclusive. (They also have links to various Kindle editions there.) Want to read more of Kit’s work? He has a regular column on the renowned Gingernuts of Horror website called My Life in Horror – most recently covering the stage show of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. He also has a collection of novellas due out in July, followed in the autumn by the wonderfully titled ‘A Warning About Your Future Enslavement That You Will Dismiss As A Collection Of Short Fiction: Not A Novel: A Novel.’