IAN BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD FINALIST FOR LGBTQ+ FICTION (2023)
RECIPIENT OF THE HISTORICAL FICTION COMPANY'S "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED" AWARD OF EXCELLENCE (2023)
CHOSEN BY INDEPENDENT BOOK REVIEW AS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS 0F 2022
A seamless blend of psychological thriller, dark satire, magical realism, romance, and myth, The Maenad's God is the story of a war that's been fought for thousands of years; the war between the ancient arts of music, poetry, and love; and the equally ancient forces of artistic envy, oppressive law, and authoritarian religion.
"Consider this a kind of prayer to the heartless void, for I am now in joyless communion with a dead god."
Peter C. Morrow, former Special AgentBoston Field Office of the Federal Bureau of InvestigationDate: Eternity Alienation. Myth. Music. Law. Madness. Death. Divinity.
Boston 1992. Pete Morrow is an alienated FBI agent whose only escape from the colleagues and society he despises is through reading literary classics. When his boss sends him to warn away a drug dealer on an obscure army base, he discovers a murder and becomes obsessed with Jade McClellan, a mysterious man from Toronto whose rock band just performed at the crime scene. Tough-guy Morrow has never been in love before-but Jade is almost magical, an embodiment of myth and literature who creates living fantasies that rapidly become the only thing Morrow values in his otherwise miserable life.
But there's a problem. Morrow is investigating a mafia family that is investing in Jade's musical career. Being open about their relationship could get both of them killed.
Morrow's murder investigation annihilates his hard-boiled understanding of reality when he learns that Jade is an abandoned, mortal son of Dionysus, the god whose energy informs hard rock. Jade's mafia support is being arranged by Dirty Penny Starmaker, a witch who started life in 5th century BCE Athens, where she received a divine mandate to promote brilliant musicians throughout history. Penny is in a centuries-old war with Hugh McCrae, a primeval, human-like "monster" who has currently incarnated himself as a congressional aide with an unhealthy interest Morrow's work. McCrae (rhymes with "decay") carries his own divine mandate to promote cultural decline by eradicating creativity and art. At the present time, this includes Jade, his music, and Morrow's newfound happiness.
After all, the universe must balance, no matter who gets destroyed in the process.
"Karen Michalson's first fiction release since her Enemy Glory trilogy is a genre-blending narrative that combines rock n' roll and mythology with magic realism and crime fiction to create a highly palatable story with a distinctly unique flavor. . . . Readers who enjoyed Michalson's Enemy Glory trilogy will find this novel a much deeper, richer-and more intimate-story. Blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, the author delivers a strange and beautiful narrative tapestry woven with threads of music, myth, and magic. . . . Adventurous fantasy fans-particularly deep readers-will find this genre-hybridized novel addictive." - BlueInk Review (Starred Review)
"The Maenad's God is the latest book by Karen Michalson. The author tackles several heavy themes masterfully. It's a tale that will keep you on your toes, guessing what's real and imaginary and what to expect next. Michalson takes the reader in one direction when the expectation is the opposite, making it a thrilling read. The author artfully deals with Peter's evolving sexuality brilliantly and in a way that is both challenging and not too explicit. . . . I cannot praise The Maenad's God by Karen Michalson highly enough. It is a mind-bending masterpiece." - Literary Titan (5/5)
"Michalson's prose, as narrated by the loquacious Pete, is by turns wisecracking and obsessive. . . . Even so, Pete's quest takes him in unexpected occult directions, opening up an intricate world of ecstasy and paranoia. . . . the novel's angst and atmosphere-both authentically '90s-make for a strangely alluring reading experience. An engaging, snaking, and spirit-tinged murder tale about obsession and control." - Kirkus Reviews
"Mystical, lyrical, and inhabited by gods, The Maenad's God is a surprisingly supernatural love story. . . . The book's exponential eccentricity is captivating: it moves between mystery elements, those of magical realism, and a dark moodiness." - Aimee Jodoin, Foreword Clarion Reviews
"An engaging metafictional romp through an improbable New England." - Tucker Lieberman, Independent Book Review