Small Gods of Calamity by Sam Kyung Yoo @SamKyungYoo @IntFlightPress @SnyderBridge4

Posted March 11, 2024 by Robin in Book Review / 4 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Small Gods of Calamity by Sam Kyung Yoo @SamKyungYoo @IntFlightPress @SnyderBridge4Small Gods of Calamity by Sam Kyung Yoo
on March 4, 2024
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 184
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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One StarOne StarOne Star

A tightly woven blend of myth, magic, and the ties of a found family.Ghosts that speak in smoke. Spirits with teeth like glass. A parasitic, soul-eating spirit worm has gone into a feeding frenzy, but all the Jong-ro Police Department’s violent crimes unit sees is a string of suicides. Except for Kim Han-gil, Seoul’s only spirit detective. He’s seen this before. He’ll do anything to stop another tragedy from happening, even if that means teaming up with Shin Yoonhae, the man Han-gil believes is responsible for the horrifying aftermath of his mother’s last exorcism.

Small Gods of Calamity has a really interesting premise.  A detective, Kim Han-gil, works as a police officer.  His unit has been investigating a string of suicides that haven’t made a lot of sense.  Han-gil knows they are not suicides but a parasitic spirit in the host that drives the host to suicide or killing so it can jump to a new host.  Most in the police department think he is a bit crazy and he has struggled to keep a partner, there are even bets on how long this new partner will last.

Han-gil is looking for the other resident to the suicide they just left.  He can tell by the psychic residue that this is not what it looks like but that the man jumped to his death because of a spiritual parasite.  He has seen this before, his mother actually died due to a worm parasite just like this and he has spent his life tracking down the others that have split off from the original host trying to irradicate it.  Looking at the apartment, it is clear that the other inhabitant is also affected and it is just a matter of time before they have another suicide or worth a string of murders on their hands.  But his normal cop partner will just think he is crazy, his adopted sister is out of town so she is sending Yoonhae, someone extremely familiar with the worm parasite as one used to live in him before it was exorcised.

Han-gil and Yoonhae will work to find and contain the spirit worm until Azuna can make it to Seoul for the exorcism.  This is a strained partnership because it is the exorcism of Yoonhea gone wrong that ended up killing Han-gil’s mother over a decade ago.  There are some very interesting concepts on how different people can perceive the psychic realm and the wards they could use for protection.  I liked the dip into Asian culture but think this is going to be an easier read for someone who understands a little more about that culture than a reader like myself who hasn’t spent much time in it.

I believe this is set up like a K-Drama, I’m not incredibly familiar with those so for me the story telling and some of the wording in the story was strange and unfamiliar to me.  For example one character is names Yoonhae but every time he is referred to it is shin Yoonhae.  I’m sure there is probably some cultural significance to that but I didn’t know what it was and so it just seemed strange to keep inserting the shin before Yoonhae’s name.

Also because of the length of the book it was hard to really dive into any of the character relationships.  Azuna is Han-gil’s adopted sister but that is about the most we get there.  It is a statement and now they hunt spiritual parasites together, but we don’t get much development on that front.

There is also Han-gil’s relationship with his brand new partner that is very surface level as well.  It seemed there were hints this new partner might have been more open than to the others of his past but it is really glossed over and there wasn’t a lot of resolution at the end as to where Han-gil stood with his job as a police officer or his future.  It was a bit rushed and open ended at the end.

Hard to have a really completely well rounded story in a novella but Small Gods of Calamity did have and an interesting premise and I think could have been fleshed out in world building and character development a little better.  There were also a few small inconsistencies that may be fixed by final copy so I will not mention them here. Not really my typical kind of story so I had some learning curve issues with it that were distracting.

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Posted March 11, 2024 by Robin in Book Review / 4 Comments

4 responses to “Small Gods of Calamity by Sam Kyung Yoo