The premise of The Glooming is a promising one: the old gods return; chaos, panic and destruction result; from within the panicking peoples of the world there are a few who can, just possibly, bring about salvation.
There are strengths and weaknesses to this book, and I think the strengths just managed to win out in my mind over its weaknesses, but I’ll be honest, it was close. The strengths are in Triptych’s ability to create characters, a wide range of characters who were almost all believable, sufficiently well developed, and nuanced enough not to be stock “good guys” or “bad guys”. He’s also done his research into the pre-monotheistic gods of much of the world, and their characteristics and attributes. These two strengths gave a solid underpinning to the novel.
There were two notable weaknesses. The most significant is the pacing of the book. Perhaps because of the scope of the story – this is a world-encompassing epic, and Triptych shows us how much of the world reacts – the story is very slow to develop. Fully the first third of the novel is setting the stage, showing us how the gods arrive in several areas of the world and the detailed reactions of the people. By the third repetition, this was getting tedious. The second section of the book set up the world’s remaining military and intelligence reactions and plans, in parallel to the actions of the young woman, Tara, who will be one of the ultimate decisive factors in the battle against the old gods. This section was better-paced than the first, whereas the final section is almost too fast. Tara’s time with the Native American brujo, who shows her what she must overcome to be able to effectively battle the old gods, should have taken much longer: its speed made it unbelievable.
The second and more minor weakness was Triptych’s love of run-on sentences, too many thoughts strung together and punctuated only by commas. There were a few minor grammar and mis-used word errors, but not more than I see in any mass-market book, whether indie or traditional, these days. But both weaknesses could have been significantly reduced by a good editor, who could have helped the author take this book from the 2 1/2 stars I’m rating it (3 on Amazon and Goodreads) to a solid 4 or possibly 5 star book. There’s a sequel in the works, and perhaps by the time the whole series is done, the slow start-up will seem less of an issue; it’s sometimes difficult to judge that when reading one book of a planned series. John Triptych has real strengths as a writer, so I hope he continues to refine his craft to more elegantly tell his stories.