Five strangers form a tense alliance to stop the release of two gods bound centuries ago in Dunne's debut novel, a semifinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel (2014).
Long ago, the creator gods hurled their twin children into the bowels of the Earth—justified punishment for ambitious pride, as most of the world believes, or a cruel sentence passed by insecure parents fearful of their own creations, according to the preachers of the Night. Joros, a violent and ruthless priest, has devoted his life to the release of the bound Twins, but resentment drives him to turn against his former colleagues, bringing with him Anddyr, a powerful mage chained to him by drug addiction and emotional abuse. In the bitter north, a boy named Scal grows into a fearsome but lonely warrior—but the creator gods have plans of their own for him, revealed through a scarred, oracular priestess with a temper. As Scal grows, so do Rora and Aro, twins who have survived the odds, and the death sentence leveled against all twins, by hiding in the underworld. Their paths are disparate, but they alone can stop the terrible threat of the gods at war, for these gods are not good or evil but rather demanding and alien forces who would battle without caring about the human cost. If there is goodness to be found here, it is in small, vulnerable moments: sharing a coat against the cold, singing to help another sleep. Dunne takes some time to unite the cast, resulting in a plot that only comes together in the third act (and which relies on a MacGuffin quest). All the same, the gritty mythos and conflicted characters are compelling enough to bring the reader along to the last page...and to the coming sequel.
Antiheroes carry the day—and maybe save it—in this dark tale of pragmatism and survival.