23 May To the Land of Wounded Little Gods
by Rae Rival
The title gives you a glimpse of the novel’s themes: “Little gods” is quite an oxymoron because gods are deemed powerful (and therefore big) and immortal but the novel tweaks that notion. This oxymoron also speaks about the human characters, particularly the medical scientists and parents who may be described as wounded little mortals who play gods. The novel is set in the small town of Heridos where gods and spirits used to walk the earth until they produced a bad harvest. People stopped believing in gods and spirits from then on.
Enter Regina, a young lady who works in an office in Makati, who grew up in Heridos. She will meet a new colleague who will then disappear. Regina will then discover a folded piece of paper with a map and hand writings by this colleague named Dianna. This will push Regina to look for her office mate and will open worlds and wounds that wish to remain hidden. The book is full of tension and revelations that make the novel brimming with emotions, often showing its characters’ flaws and fragility.
Up in the clouds
(Spoiler alert! Highlight succeeding text to read.) I see how the focus on fragility may address mood conditions often suffered by its target readers. There are characters who are on medication, who seek help from professionals, who suffer from depression and anxiety. I believe it is a wonderful way to reach out to teens who go through the same challenges, to talk about these conditions (frequently misunderstood or trivialized) through local myths and creatures.
The work also alludes and plays with real phenomena in medical science, making the plot compelling and its details haunting.
A solid, fascinating read on the supernatural and the natural, Wounded Little Gods is not one to miss. ☁
Rae Rival teaches Creative Writing at the Philippine High School for the Arts. She is a member of Gantala Press, an independent literary press for and by women. Visit her on her blog, Cities and Columns.