With a final goodbye the Who Let the Gods Out saga comes to an end and what a journey it has been. One of loss and heartache as much as joy and laughter I feel. Hard to read in places - perhaps more for adults than children - but a romping good tale that will entertain readers for many years yet to come I have no doubt.
Maz Evans deciding there would be four significant parts to her story was a masterstroke. Firstly, it meant people were almost signing up for the long haul by reading book 1. But secondly and perhaps more importantly, there aren’t really any other quadrilogies .... fourologies .... quadbooks? I dunno what the word is, perhaps there isn’t one. But you know what I mean, a series told over four separate books. And essentially I guess the question is, did it work. In short, yes, definitely.
The final instalment Against All Gods very much has the fee of tying everything together right from the off and it wastes no time in reminding you with crunching realisation of our young hero’s loss.
Elliot is a broken shell much like his long absent father and the question that rolls the start of the book along for the opening 5 chapters or so is, will he get his mum back. Interestingly and perhaps deliberately on the part of Evans, I cared more about that than bad boy Thanatos’ attempt to take over the world.
That for me is the beauty of this series and ironically is an aspect I actually think would be partially lost on the children reading these books. The heartbreaking relationships in the Hooper household, the well meaning but largely vacuous Call Me Graham, the tyrannical Mr Boil. All this tied up in a brown paper bag with a stamp reading good intentions. Because for me that’s largely what this series has been about, good intentions in the face of well, life.
Elliot faces challenges and questions that no young mind should have to tackle and although ‘helped’ along the way by Virgo - who is actually not in this book as much as the others interestingly - he has to make many decisions himself. This decisions and quandaries very strongly echo elements of Harry Potter and the idea of the greater good but there are parts as in Beyond the Odyssey that I found hard to read.
This instalment is chocker with character, with as many different accents and manners of speaking as there are regulations in the zodiac council. This I must admit I found a tad full on (sorry) i kept trying to read it in the way the accent said and found I was losing my train of thought but that’s probably my own failure at accents more than anything.
The book steams along picking up pace, heroes and some fist pumping moments. It is a tale of loss but a tale of friendship, family and finding purpose. One that keeps you thinking after you put it down and one that much like Kate Saunders’ Land of Neverendingsmakes you feel like the author must have first hand experience of the heart ache described in the text.
I will always maintain that for me these books are best used in Years 5,6 and even 7. The vocab, the incredible depth of Greek history and religion that is examined and even the subject matter I think very much leans itself more to Upper KS2.
This final instalment is no different. You follow Elliot, Zeus and the clan through trials and tribulations and this wonderfully crafted world is told with such ease and certainty that you can tell Evans has been working on it for a very long time now. She knows her characters, she knows her reader and she has produced a rare gem in this four part saga that I know will be a cornerstone of classroom book corners for many years to come.