I have a confession to make. When I first purchased my copy of The Gods of Gotham at Chapters, it was meant to be a gift for someone else. After spending an hour trying to select a book for one of my friends, I eventually chose Lyndsay Faye’s bestselling historical novel, and took it home to wrap up. As I got out the paper and tape, however, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a peek at the first few pages of the book. After all, shouldn’t I make sure that the book I was giving away was well written first? A few pages soon became a few chapters, and before I knew it I had finished the entire novel! Thrilling, gripping, and full of interesting characters, I found myself with a dilemma. I loved The Gods of Gotham so much that I didn’t want to part with it!
The novel focuses on Timothy Wilde, a bartender who finds himself homeless, unemployed, and partially disfigured after a fire ravages Manhattan. With no other job on the horizon, he begrudgingly agrees to take up his older brother’s offer to become one of New York City’s first police officers. Sent to patrol the Sixth Ward, New York’s greatest slum, Tim knows that he’ll have his fair share of criminals to reprimand. The last thing he expects to encounter, however, is a young girl dashing through the dark in nothing but a night shift….covered from head to toe in blood. While Tim knows that he should report the incident to his captain, he takes the girl to his home instead, where she spins wild stories of a cloaked man murdering children in their beds. Before he knows it, Tim is on the hunt for a serial killer whose murders become more violent and gruesome as the story progresses.
To say I was enthralled with The Gods of Gotham would be an understatement. I lived and breathed this novel. The moment I picked it up I was immediately transported to New York’s slums during the 1840s. From Faye’s use of Flash slang to her vivid descriptions of the tenements, everything about the novel felt real. It’s obvious that she put a lot of thought and research into her work, and the historical details added to the story’s richness.
While the writing and historical details were captivating, I think it was the story’s varied cast of characters that made The Gods of Gotham so irresistible. Tim’s shameless older brother Valentine; the pastor’s virtuous daughter Mercy Underhill; the vulgar brothel owner Madam Marsh; Bird Daley the kinchin-mab; all of these characters and more were fascinating and complex. As I attempted to solve the case of the serial killer along with Tim, my suspicions about the murderer’s identity shifted from one person to the next. As Tim soon discovers for himself, none of the characters are exactly as they first appear.
To put it simply, The Gods of Gotham was AMAZING! It’s rare that a book so completely consumes me, but The Gods of Gotham has put me under its spell. Lyndsay Faye’s writing was masterful and clever, her characters were intriguing, and the plot was absolutely thrilling! While I may have commandeered my poor friend’s gift for myself, picking up The Gods of Gotham was one of the best book purchases that I have ever made.
Rating: 5 Stars