Food of the GodsFood of the Gods by Cassandra Khaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Chinese have a lot of hells. And karma is a b***h.


Rupert Wong is a chef for ghouls and older, less benign gods. It seems he is also a sort of trouble shooter and all around jack of all trades for them. How did he get in this predicament? Well, Rupert Wong used to be a very,very bad man. The kind of bad that leaves a mark on a soul. And he would like to work off his bad karma rather than die owing the devil (or in this case, King) his due.

“Trivia time, ang moh. The Egyptians were right about a lot of things, including the idea that souls have weight. Karma does, in fact, affect your spiritual buoyancy. In my case, I’ve more than enough sin to send me plummeting hellwards at record-breaking speeds upon the moment of expiry.”

Worse yet, he has a reputation of being very, very good. And, you know the old saying, the reward for doing good work is more work. And that means he has gotten noticed by some very powerful beings.

“Unspoken: human scapegoats are all the rage.”

And it goes something like…


The author took Chinese mythology, Shinto, Buddhism, Greek mythology, and English banking, andthrew them in the Yaztee cup for a quick shake-up before throwing them all over the pages (or screens) that we recieve in our bookstores (downloads.)

But is that bad?

Ergh. Sometimes. Yes. Even the character was begging for a bone.

“Hey, you know what would be an absolutely novel idea? Telling me things straight instead of jumping through wordplay. It’d get all of us where you want to go a lot faster.”

If I could give any advice to the author it would be to suggest ORGANIZATION and STRUCTURE. Now this was advertised to me as one novel. That is incorrect. It is actually two novellas in a short series. Of course that only slightly improves the unlinear mashup that she had going on. The plot did have a beginning and an end state (although the latter was somewhat ambiguous,) but the guts of the thing was as convoluted as it was clever.

Mad props to the author on her firm and often ironic grasp of the various pantheons, histories, and such that she utilized throughout this novel. As far as I can discern, either she is an incredible Googler or she has many expert interests because they were used flawlessly. Credit where it is due.

BEWARE: The humor in this book is clever funny rather than blatantly humorous.

“The juicy hot dog of life is best enjoyed between two puns.”

Now, I have rather varied interests and caught a lot of clever in hidden and obscure gems so I can only imagine how many more I might have missed. That being said, for tye first novella a general knowledge of Chinese mythology (particular their hells) is HIGHLY encouraged. You will miss a lot {of the humor} otherwise. The second novella is less taxing (view spoiler) because while the positions and appearances of the Greek gods are quick amusing, you do not need to know them extensively to get the book.

Noooowwww back to the plot

In Part 1 Rupert gains the interest of a Dragon. Yes, that is Dragon with a capital “D.” An ancient god of the seas, this dragon has lost someone precious to him and wants someone to pay for it. Rupert’s job in this personal matter is to find proof about who is responsible to give the Dragon a legal right-of-way to out of pantheon vengeance. Rupert, the sap, knows this is a recipe for disaster but does it to free the woman he loves from an afterlife of misery. Now he is in the shit of it with ghosts taking over bodies and Furies setting up businesses outside of their territory. Better still, behind the scenes conniving may see Rupert with no way out that leaves his skin attached to his body.

Part 2 and 3 make up the second little novella. Rupert continues to be the tragic victim of his own success and more than a little selfishness. Now politics and the convoluted hells legal code are vying to make mince meet of the sometimes chef. Cannon fodder has an easier time of it. Rupert is served up as a peace  (war mongering) initiative to outsiders who really have a reason to want him dead. But plots within plots have new and old gods vying to control Rupert. Manifestations and monsters move him like a chess piece until death seems preferable and his sense of justice is outraged. Now he must decide just what he is willing to challenge gods and demons over and how much he us willing to pay for it.

Now there were two little things, small really, outside of organization that also hurt what could have been an amazing novel: we learned about Rupert from the synopsis blurb and not the actual story and, well, there was no resolution of ANYTHING. I am not talking that it would all be cleared up with another installment.I am saying that ending doea not jive and the actions of ghouls, demons, and gods do not make sense. (view spoiler) And the fact that I learned about Rupert’s past from the blurb and not the story is unacceptable. Utterly.


That all being said, I was still mildly entertained and fully appreciated the cleverness so this book gets a mild rating.

Oh! I almost forgot….this book is a gore-soaked violent bloodbath. For me this was fine. For the squeamish it will be a problem. (Did I mention that everyone in this book eats humans? No? Well he is a chef who cleans, cuts up, and cooks murdered humans.)

“. If anyone ever tells you that the life of a cannibal chef is glamorous, punch them in the scrotum for me.”

Overall this book was a series of highly entertaining one-liners that were cobbled against their will into a novel. Entertaining, a great concept, but lacking in the execution. Still it would be worth the read if you are attention deficit an enjoy clever gore.

“THE CHINESE HELL isn’t such a bad place if you’re just visiting. Unpleasantly warm, sure. Cacophonous, definitely. But the denizens are cultured, fastidious about personal hygiene, and too practical for blanket judgments. If you can get over the idea that the entire dimension pivots on an industry of deserved torture, Diyu, while hardly a top vacation spot, is rather like a more sanitary Kuala Lumpur.”



View all my reviews