This is a rip-roaring adventure with a mythological twist. Elliot is a boy, who as with many protagonists, has a tough life. He cares for his ill mother, is on the brink of losing his house and one teacher in particular goes out of his way to make Elliot’s schooling a misery. Things only get worse when a constellation crash lands into the cowshed. It is only a matter of time, before Elliot and Virgo accidentally set free the death daemon. From that point onward, its down to Elliot and a collection of Greek gods to save the world.
There is only one way to describe Who Let The Gods Out? – hilarious. Maz Evans creates a wide cast of characters each with their own grounding in mythology but re-invented for the 21st century. There’s the fashion-conscious Hermes, the polygamous Zeus and seductive Aphrodite. The accentuated characters allow endless one-liners and quips to be woven into the story. There was many an occasion when I chuckled and even laughed out loud to myself. The joy of the comedy, however, is that it works on many levels. There are parts which will have children belly-laughing, whereas others will appeal to an older reader (for those who have read it – plastic jugs!).
Of course, it isn’t all about the laughs. Evans manage to counter-balance the highs with moments of real emotion. Elliot’s situation itself is, in reality, a tragic one that leaves him in an unwinnable situation. As a reader, I couldn’t help but want to step in and help him.
Then there’s the learning by stealth. I have never been one for Greek mythology, yet after reading Who Let The Gods Out, I know more about Greek gods and their history than ever before. As an adult reader, I was able to fish out mythology from Evan’s narratives, but the potential for talking to children about these differences is endless. I’d go as far as saying it could bring a new audience to classic mythology!
There is one frustrating element to this book, in that the story isn’t fully resolved. This is left for the sequel – Simply The Quest. It must feel akin those who read Fellowship of the Ring in July 1954 and had to wait another 4 months before the Two Towers was published. Luckily for me, I have a copy sat in my reading pile! This shouldn’t distract from the way this book will grab readers and suck them in.
My first impression of this book was that it is a book to read out loud – something that I will be doing with my class – and that impression hasn’t changed. It falls into that classic mould of a book that asks you to completely disband reality and just enjoy it for what it is – a side-splitting madcap adventure.
Age Recommendation: 9+
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Chicken House