The spectrum of bizarro fiction goes from “kinda weird” to” 4-plus-wacko-bananas.” Andrew J. Stone’s novella All Hail the House Gods is definitely in bananas territory. Still, he manages to pull off a believable and engaging story that rivets you to the page.
I’ve read it twice now and I’m so glad I did. On my first reading, I struggled at the start as I tried to figure out what the hell was happening. I felt overwhelmed by the concepts and worldbuilding. But once I understood these, my second reading was much more fruitful.
Like his other novella The Mortuary Monster, this book is a wellspring of creativity. It is a dystopian tale in which sentient houses have taken over, raising humankind as livestock for their twisted sacrifices. Like all livestock, the humans’ sole purpose is to reproduce; their society is based around it. Sick of losing their loved ones to the House Gods, a group of humans bands together, in an attempt to throw off their domestic oppressors.
The sign of a good bizarro author is to make the ridiculous seemed plausible. Stone does just that. Very quickly, the concept of House Gods no longer seems preposterous, but just a fact of life. Of course, it helps to leave behind your conceptions of reality or else logic may get in your way.
The story weaves beautifully through the timeline, giving a broader look at Stone’s crazy world. Even with a non-linear storyline, the momentum builds steadily. It becomes more engaging, more addicting as it pulls you toward a conclusion that you are not certain of.
Behind all the preposterousness is a powerful tale of resistance against oppression and the different forms it can take. I should warn you, though: this book is not for the prudish.
In the end, certain questions were left unanswered, but then again, it’s a book about House Gods for god’s sake. One thing is for sure: reading this book inside a house will make you paranoid. You never know when the house might turn against you.