Free will is a relic of the past. Souls have a prewritten path to heaven. If they miss it, they are doomed to roam the lost realm of limbo as splinters of their former selves or worse—as demons.
Their only hope is the reaper Alames, whose own soul shattered when her celestial lover, Balthos, usurped their creators to make them gods. In her absence, he builds a pantheon of monsters and tricks the mortals, whom he blames for his grief, into worshiping him. But when a new generation defies Balthos’s law, Alames’s splinters appear among them.
Brilliant physicist Ally longs for progress and innovation, but the Council controlling her nation strips the “Mad Princess” of power. Pregnant and uncertain, the unrivaled Captain Se’azana abandons her career for the false promises of love. The starving serf Richard makes a deal with a Fae demon to save his son. And teenage rebel Vana trades her guitar for a blade when faced with ruthless nobility.
When worlds tear and hearts break, will they defy the gods’ narrative to create a brighter future or will they obey the lies preached and doom their souls forever?
To start off, this was an incredible read. There are so many things that I loved about it that I am not really sure where to start – especially with the size of the novel itself. I read this one on my Kindle and so I couldn’t quite fathom the length of this book until I was adding it to my Goodreads lists and saw the page count (an amazing 670 pages). I tend to be more wary of longer books now, worried that my attention will drift, and that I am more likely to lose interest. However, after reading the description for the book I had a feeling this novel would be for me, and I was right. Having read Goddess of Limbo I am reminded of why I used to love books of this nature so much. I loved being able to spend as much time as possible in the world that Lea Falls has created and getting to know the characters that exist within it.
The world building in Goddess of Limbo is so detailed, and beautifully crafted. I can tell that Falls spent a lot of time researching as well as mapping out the world’s law. It was definitely worth persevering with. It is difficult to explain the way that a fictional world works without info dumping, and Falls does a wonderful job of integrating the facts of the world without just explaining the history in bulk. In saying that, the history covered early on in the novel, I did find it a little difficult to follow at first, but the further I read, the more I understood. I didn’t feel that this took away from the novel itself. I can sometimes find it difficult to situate myself in a fantasy world as I connect more with characters to start off. With the rapidly changing narrative points of view early on it took a bit more time.
This novel has a wonderful collection of diverse characters. Each character felt so real to me, as while they all had their own positive traits and achievements, they all had their own flaws which made them tangible within the words that created them. I loved the relationships within the novel, they were beautifully messy at times, and some managed to break my heart – romantic and friendships alike. Each PoV character had a beautifully distinct voice, which I loved, making the change of narration at each chapter something to anticipate each time. With ten PoV characters I first thought it might be difficult to keep track of each story line, but the stories intersected beautifully so to draw the focus to the main plot. I’m not sure I could choose a favourite character, I love them all too much – though Robert, Subira, Zazil, and Martín stole my heart completely.
There is something beautiful about the way that Falls writes. She drew me in, slowly at first, but then managed to hook me when I least expected it, and after that I couldn’t put the book down (quite literally – I was reading on my breaks at work, and even after my 1am work shift finish). The various story threads all joined for the epic final battle in the most marvellous way. I was exclaiming and audibly gasping throughout the last few chapters, not quite able to contain my stress for the characters. I have to say Falls can definitely craft a big revelation. There’s a certain chapter (that I won’t reveal – for spoilers) that had me close the cover on my Kindle and have to take a few deep breaths. I got it partially right because I saw the clues, which I am happy about, but just interpreted them sort of incorrectly – which made the reveal that much more surprising. I cannot wait to do a reread so I can find all the clues again, and possibly more.
I am so happy that I came across this novel when I did. Not only is it a carefully crafted epic fantasy, but it is an epic fantasy with a diverse cast of characters. The representation in this novel is what I think all fantasy should have. I think for me, this is part of the reason I could get so into this book – I saw myself in more than just the one character. The first time I read they/them pronouns being used I think I may have cried a little from happiness, the queer relationships and characters brought a wide smile to my face, and I really just want to thank Lea Falls for that. I am really looking forward to any sequels that are written and will devour them just as I have Goddess of Limbo.
I highly recommend this to lovers of long, epic dark fantasy; and to those who want to read about wonderfully real characters in a detailed and creative world. This is a story of underdogs fighting for what they believe is right in a world that doesn’t always work in their favour. It is a story of love, loss, and hope, and of a fight worth fighting – whatever you are fighting for.
Please Note: There are a lot of trigger warnings and content warnings for this novel which I think would be useful to read through if you are wanting to read this book. You can find the full list on Lea Falls’ website, here.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy), I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 14th October 2021.