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GODKILLER by Hannah Kaner Kirkus Star


by Hannah Kaner

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 2023
ISBN: 9780063348271
Publisher: Harper Voyager

In a kingdom that slaughtered the gods and criminalized their worship, two god-slayers—a mercenary and a knight—join forces on a pilgrimage to save two other lives.

Years ago, Kissen lost her leg after the people of her village shifted their allegiance to a fire god and burned her family home to the ground. Only a desperate bargain with the sea god her father served saved her life. Now she works as a veiga: a state-sanctioned killer of gods. Under young King Arren's rule, all forms of worship have become illegal, as it is humans' faith that gives birth to the gods and powers them. A series of violent events leaves Kissen as sole protector to Inara, a young girl orphaned by fire and treachery and bound to a small, shrineless god called Skedi. Together, the three must journey to Blenraden, the city where the gods died, to sever Inara and Skedi's connection. Unbeknownst to Kissen and her charges, another godkiller walks in their midst. Knight-turned-baker Elo witnessed the carnage in Blenraden firsthand. It cost him everything. His mothers left the kingdom in the war's aftermath, unwilling to give up their faith. Then the king waltzes back into his orbit, afflicted with a deadly curse. Elo must join the next pilgrimage he can find—Kissen's pilgrimage—if he wants to save his old friend. No sooner has the group set out for the dead city than a god-summoned monster attacks their caravan, forcing Kissen and Elo to reveal their capabilities—and their godkilling weapons as well. In addition to being exquisitely paced and character-driven, Kaner's novel features a widely diverse cast. Queerness does not draw ridicule in Kaner's invented world, and Kissen is bisexual. Many secondary and tertiary characters are queer. Both heroes and two secondary characters have disabilities; he's living with PTSD, while she's an amputee and ambulatory wheelchair user with a handcrafted metal leg. One secondary character also uses a wheelchair, and another is deaf. Elo is coded as Black. Inara and several tertiary characters are coded as nonwhite. Kissen is white, and Skedi is a fantasy creature resembling a jackalope.

An un-put-down-able start to an engrossing low-fantasy trilogy bordering on grimdark.