Macabre Book Review: Goddess of Everything (2021) by Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D
A blood-curdling tale of a Mother’s affection for her son, and her son’s struggle for truth, freedom, and love.
Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D. is an award-winning writer out of New Mexico, as a psychologist, he is in the ideal position to craft thrilling and energetic perspectives that are sure to fuel your nightmares. Author of The Unholy (2013), and Goddess of the Wild Thing (2017), DeBlassie has come back to the scene with Goddess of Everything (2021) in an infernal force of savagery.
There aren’t many books that can keep me engaged from the first page to the last, but DeBlassie’s ability to take something obscure and spin an entrancing yarn is remarkable.
The stage is set in the strangely gloomy, albeit sunny, land of Aztlan del Norte—a place where the supernatural may not necessarily be common knowledge, but yet it seethes through the cracks of normalcy. The Orphanage of the Holy Innocents, a home for wayward and parentless youths holds a dark secret, its children are disappearing. Evil lurks in the place where goodness should thrive and for Gabriél de LaTierra, a psychiatric healer, it is cultivated by his mother the person who he trusts implicitly. Mother Juana de la Cruz, Mother Superior and head of the Orphanage, is a keeper of secrets both dark and vile. The more Gabriél uncovers, the more at risk he puts his wife Consuela and four-year-old son. When the truth tests his resolve will he have what it takes to do the right thing, forsaking the love he has for his mother?
A Macabre Evaluation
I think my rating would have been five stars if I felt it had connected more to my favorite genre—as it is, I have high standards for literary horror and while I feel it did a good job swimming in these dark, shark-infested waters there were points where I felt as if it was lacking.
We get a glimpse into each of the characters presented, but not enough to get a real picture of who they are—that is, except for our protagonist Gabriél and his beloved Mother, Juana de la Cruz. While I didn’t connect with the characters we were given more insight into, I did connect quite heavily to the characters that our protagonist cared about. As if his desire to keep these people safe was transferred, discreetly to the reader, his desperation to take care of these people became our desperation. Altogether, they were satisfying and deep enough to be believable—not something that I generally notice being a theme in horror stories.
In horror and dark fantasy, all too often, I find that authors are more likely to use settings that don’t feel real—they feel like they’re as much of a construct of the author’s mind as the characters and plot devices. DeBlassie made me feel as if I were present in each of these scenes, not because he described each blade of grass, but because he made plausible observations that captured the atmosphere and it lent something formidable to an already daunting story.
Even though there is nothing traditional about DeBlassie’s novel, the overall theme of good vs evil came through quite clearly. It presented the struggles that real, everyday people have in identifying the toxic relationships they have in their lives and how gas-lighting can be a powerful tool, even if it’s not the byproduct of dark occult philosophy.
The timing of this novel was effortless, there was no rush to get to the “scary part” because the entire novel was a well-paced creep toward the inevitable darkness and though we got hints throughout, it wasn’t until we got nearer to the climax that things really started piling on.
DeBlassie definitely has a way with words, perhaps it’s my recent experience with the casual way creepypastas are written, but there is something to be said about the writing style of a well-educated writer. This work was fluid and incredibly compelling; it gave me more to think about once I set the book down for the day.
As a pagan and someone who finds the occult and paranormal topics to be mystical and alluring, this novel had its hooks in me at once. It gradually revealed itself as a story about psychological trauma and how cutting ties with toxic relationships can be the most difficult thing in life, even when you see how much more you risk losing as a result of not taking action.
Upon finishing this novel I felt a such deep satisfaction in the resolution of the story. The idea of having more to read from this author is a delight and I can’t wait to get my hands on his earlier works.