Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts (Book Review)

Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts (Book Review)Among the Lesser Gods: A Novel by Margo Catts
Published by: Arcade Publishing
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 336
My Rating:
Buy It Now (Affiliate Link): Buy on Amazon

For fans of authors like Barbara Kingsolver and Leif Enger, a stunning new voice in contemporary literary fiction.
“Tragedy and blessing. Leave them alone long enough, and it gets real hard to tell them apart.”
Elena Alvarez is living a cursed life. From the deadly fire she accidentally set as a child, to her mother’s abandonment, and now to an unwanted pregnancy, she knows better than most that small actions can have terrible consequences. Driven to the high mountains surrounding Leadville, Colorado by her latest bad decision, she’s intent on putting off the future. Perhaps there she can just hide in her grandmother’s isolated cabin and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.
Instead, she is confronted by reflections of her own troubles wherever she turns—the recent widower and his two children adrift in a changed world, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the interwoven lives within the town itself. Bit by bit, Elena begins to question her understanding of cause and effect, reexamining the tragedies she’s held on to and the wounds she’s refused to let heal.
But when the children go missing, Elena’s fragile new peace is shattered. It’s only at the prospect of fresh loss and blame that she will discover the truth of the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are inevitably intertwined—and how curses can sometimes lead to blessings, however disguised.


I’ve sat on this book review for at least 2 months, hesitant to publish it because I have yet to meet a single person that has read this book and not absolutely loved it. I had high expectations when I first saw it on Edelweiss and I was excited when my request for an ARC was accepted. It sounded like such a great book and I was anxious to read (what I expected to be) another great book set in the west. I find myself frequently complaining that there aren’t enough western-style books or books that are set in the western USA that aren’t in a major city like LA, Seattle, or Vegas. Among the Lesser Gods is set in a small mountain town in Colorado and I wanted to love it, but I didn’t.

I struggled to get into it and I struggled to care about Elena even a little bit. I was detached from page 1 and I still can’t sort out why. Elena, as a character, just didn’t appeal to me at all. Her story was compelling (adrift after having just graduated from UCLA, coming to terms with an unwanted pregnancy, and suddenly finding herself caring for two young children that lost their mother) but I never felt invested.

The whole book is well-written and it’s evident that Margo Catts (the author) invested a good amount of time planning and developing the story; it’s just that I never connected. Over and over again it was a book I forgot about or a story I skipped over when I felt like reading. It took me forever to finish it because I kept passing it over for stories that were holding my attention. 

The messages of the book were fantastic as it addresses the consequences of our decisions and forgiveness (especially toward ourselves) but I kept feeling “ehhhh” toward it. It’s not that I don’t recommend it as a book to read because it is a well-written story and I am certain that I’m in the minority when it comes to feeling disenchanted by it. In fact, here is what a few others have had to say about it…

“If Anne Tyler turned her attention to the inter-generational intrigue of small town Colorado, it might look something like Margo Catts’s arresting debut. Drenched in lyrical language and blade’s edge observation with a heartbreaking secret at its core, Among the Lesser Gods is an essential American love story for our nomadic, unrooted times.” — Carrie La Seur, author of The Home Place

“Smart, unsettling, and meticulously composed, Margot Catts’s debut novel affirms the power of narrative to redeem . . . The assaults of the past on the present, of badly buried guilt that keeps one from knowing how to live; the ways in which ordinary wisdom proceeds from the shadow of tragedy; the essentiality of family and community to all manner of healing – these are just a handful of the themes weaving through this unforgettable tale of accidental salvation.” — Lynn Stegner, author of For All the Obvious Reasons

It’s a really, really great storyline but it just didn’t connect with me for some reason. I think it’s just going to be one of those books that most people love but that left me feeling meh.

If you enjoy reading sophisticated women's fiction you may enjoy Among the Lesser Gods by Margo Catts

This book is recommended by the publisher for fans of:

If you decide to read it, I’d love to know what you think of it. Add me as a GoodReads friend to talk more books!

Ashley LaMar
Ashley bounces between Atlanta, GA + Charleston, WV with her husband and two small dogs for life and work. If she’s not writing or blogging, she can usually be found cooking, reading, or watching baseball. Follow her on Twitter @ashleyfromfbl
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