Written by: Matt Molgaard
20 pages into David G. Barnett’s Spying on Gods I wasn’t certain I could continue on through a mere 82 total pages. 40 pages in and I was completely enchanted by Barnett’s astonishingly inventive concept. Spying on Gods is unlike anything I can recall ever reading. Ingenuity goes a long way in my mind, and Barnett delivers in spades.
A supernatural piece that sees a sacrificial ritual disrupted by an unwanted onlooker, Spying on Gods outlines a battle between mankind and a force of nature that’s so far distanced from natural it’s baffling. It’s also extremely revolting, remorseless in its vile intent and hell bent on serving as the officious force over a small, fearful village. But the presence of the aforementioned spectator will cast the beliefs, wellbeing and future of the villagers in an uncertain light. An uncertain light that will summon the monstrous from the shadows for a jarring confrontation that will determine the fate of an entire community.
Equal parts psychological torment and animalistic illumination, Spying on Gods is something of an exhilarating affair. I value Barnett’s outside-the-box manner of thinking above and beyond all other strengths in his game (and he’s certainly well rounded), though his prose is clean and his work is successfully concise. I’m a firm believer that a fantastic story doesn’t require 500 pages to be told. I’m a father of (soon to be) two children; the time I can dedicate to reading a novel is thinning, so I really appreciate a succinct tale that still manages to leave me unnerved. Spying on Gods makes that happen, and the fact that I wasn’t forced to invest three weeks reading the book only piles on the points. If distinctive work is your particular fancy, this is a mandatory read.