cover image Empire of the Goddess

Empire of the Goddess

Matthew Warner. MW Publications, $9.99 trade paper (392p) ISBN 978-1-79823-795-3

Warner’s tale of a dystopian parallel Earth run by religious fanatics is quick-paced and intriguing, though sometimes it’s a bit gimmicky. Thomas Dylan is devastated when his four-year-old son is kidnapped. A year later, Thomas discovers what happened to his son when he is similarly taken from Earth and brought to an alternate Earth called Terra. Here, the citizens of the Imperial Patriotic States (a parallel America) suffer from sin—various diseases and ailments—and it is through the sacrifice of human “lambs” from Earth that citizens are healed. Thomas is rescued, along with another lamb, Lily, by Andrew, a radical, messianic leader whose healing ability doesn’t require a lamb to be sacrificed. Eventually, Thomas convinces Andrew to subvert the priesthood’s power by doing healings without charging his patients. As Andrew becomes lost in the notion that he is the Conquistador who will save everyone, Thomas leaves Andrew to find his son. Meanwhile, he realizes that he, too, has the power to heal, and he develops even greater powers that may just save two worlds. The story wends to a heart-wrenching conclusion. Warner saves time by making Terra nearly identical to Earth, but some parallels, such as the priests dressing like the KKK, feel lazy rather than clever. The more satisfying elements of the worldbuilding and the plot are enough to keep fans of dystopian stories hooked. (BookLife)