|cover art by Steve Criado|
In MYTHWORLD we are introduced to our protagonist, Charlie Reese. In the opening prologue, ten year old Charlie and his little sister are being chased by a pack of schoolyard bullies. Trying to outrun them, Charlie realizes that they will never make it; his sister, Vonda is asthmatic, and can't keep up. Hiding her in up a tree, he cuts through Simmons' Gorge, hoping to lose his pursuers in the woods. After stumbling over a transient in the woods, Charlie takes a hard knock to the head... and everything changes! The everyday world is suddenly replaced by a mythic reality, the transient is now a centaur, the school bullies satyrs. The episode doesn't last long, and Charlie is saved by the intervention of an adult, but he is scared to death by his experience. Despite this, by the end of the day he has forgotten that anything extraordinary has happened. In fact he will remember nothing until much later, when he is an adult... Fast forward thirteen years. Charlie is newly graduated from college as an architect, and has found gainful employment at Dreyfus and Associates, a large design firm. He is currently winging his way to Pittsburgh, with his friend Mal, on the way to bid on a huge account. All the while he is wondering why he was included on such an important business trip. After all, he is a new employee of the firm. And to start out with Light-Ex (think UPS, Fed Ex, that sort of thing), owned by the multimillionaire (in fact, closer to a billionaire) Harold Lightfoot? He just can't fathom why he is involved in the deal. Arriving at the Light-Ex Building, Charlie and Mal are separated from each other, by one of the directors. Another puzzle for Charlie. A beautiful woman appears and explains that Mr. Lightfoot wants to meet Charlie personally. He's a bit doubtful about the whole thing, but entranced by her beauty, he blindly follows her to Lightfoot's office. This is where things begin to move at a faster pace. Lightfoot explains that the entire business venture is a ruse, although he will gladly pay Dreyfus and Associates in full for their work. The actual purpose behind the whole charade was assuring Charlie's presence, and securing his employment. Despite Charlie's protests, Lightfoot lays out his offer, and a shocking one it is. He wants Charlie's help in restoring the worship of the Greek pantheon of gods to the masses; thinking him absolutely off his nut, Charlie sensibly tries to leave. And that's when Lightfoot (actually Hermes/Mercury) draws him into the same mythic reality he experienced, that single time, as a child. It's too much for Charlie to accept, and he flees the building, despite the efforts of the mysterious beauty from earlier in the story (who is really Aphrodite). When he and Mal are attacked by mirror image "DEA" agents (trust me, when I say Russ really wowed me with who these "guys" really were, in the end) , and he is saved by the god Pan, the story hits the acceleration pedal. Reluctantly returning to Lightfoot Headquarters, Charlie finds himself working for Hermes, although he has a lot to learn, and a short time to get up to speed. He'll embark on an epic journey, and learn the truth behind the god's plan. Along the way, he'll find out a great deal about himself, lose many things dear to him, and possibly, become a better man. And, oh yeah, save the world... maybe.
What did I think about MYTHWORLD? I thought it was an excellently written, bang-up adventure tale, which enthralled me from the first page, to the last. Charlie is a bit of an every-man type character, and a perfect foil to the more divine company he keeps. Although the overall description may seem similar to American Gods, they are two different animals, entirely, and you should have both on your shelf. The overall tone and execution are entirely different, and where the characters end (?) there journey are unique to each tale. The main similarity between the two novels, was that I was left wanting more! Cheers, Russ (and Neil Gaiman for American Gods)! I read through this at light speed (possibly at ludicrous speed, LOL), totally captivated by the story. Russ perfectly etches out the human characters, and conveys the disconnect that the gods experience when dealing with mortals. Filled with twists and turns galore, Russ takes us on an absolute roller coaster of a journey. By the time you get to the end, you realize that nothing is as it seems. And a dang good ending it was. This is a labor of love, and I don't believe Russ needs anyone validating it. But I'll do it anyways, totally validated, man. Loved it, and I hope many more people take a look! In my opinion, you should be reading this! One last thing... the story isn't over (it never is), and I would love more! Thank you Russ! With that, I wish everyone happy reading, whatever your genre of choice happens to be! Thanks for stopping by, and, by all means, take a shufti around. You will probably find something you like...
Here's the Amazon page for MYTHWORLD. Here's the author page for Russ on Amazon. Swing by and take a look.