Spencer, Wen: Eight Million Gods (八百万の神) (2013)

EightMillionGods1
Cover art by Tom Kidd
Really great cover

There is a reason I love Wen Spencer’s writing. Her characters are all odd-balls trying to fit in with the rest of the world. Some are more successful than others. Having pretty much grown up in mental institutions ensures that Nikki is going to have a harder time of it than most people. Having an obsessive compulsive disorder called hypergraphia isn’t helping Nikki fit in.

The driving compulsion to write; the overwhelming urge to write. Hypergraphia may compel someone to keep a voluminous journal, to jot off frequent letters to the editor, to write on toilet paper if nothing else is available, and perhaps even to compile a dictionary. Hypergraphia is the opposite of writer’s block.

The way Wen Spencer describes Nikki’s writing compulsion is pretty intense. At one point Nikki tells us that she would even use her own blood to write if the urge became too strong. Wow! That is some disorder to have.

For some weird reason, quoting law to some policemen was like hitting Superman with kryptonite. They just couldn’t cope with material from their home planet. (p. 1)

When Nikki’s mom drags along a police officer to have Nikki interred in a mental institution, quoting law to the police officer is one of the tools Nikki uses to get away. She does get away to Japan on a roller-coaster ride of gods, goddesses, super-natural creatures (like tanuki) and new friends.

But first things have to be resolved with the police officer and Nikki’s mom.

All mom’s are nuts, but some moms are crazier than others. While Nikki certainly has a pronounced form of OCD her obsession is fairly easy to satisfy. All her mom had to do was make certain that Nikki had the writing implements she needed. Being a Senator from a wealthy family (in the US that goes without saying) would also give Nikki’s mom the finances to make certain Nikki could get her education and help her with her obsession at the same time. That means that either Nikki’s mom is insane or maybe there is some other reason for Nikki being placed in a mental institution than the one Nikki thinks is true.

The blurb kind of gives the answer to that. Hah, hah – one of the many reasons I seldom include the blurb in my reviews.

When Nikki discovers that perhaps there is more to her hypergraphia than insanity, she is filled with relief and despair. Her relief is obviously from understanding that she isn’t nuts (well, not only nuts). The despair comes from realising that her horror stories are real, real, real.

What would it be like to realise that the story you had written about a person being killed by a blender was for real? It’s not the most common method of killing a person and to have that person be killed in the exact manner you had written – well that would freak me out. Then imagine finding out that the gods, goddesses and mythical creatures in Japan were real, and wanted something from you. Nikki freaking out is an understandable reaction. She does, but not in a major manner. In fact, her experiences with getting away from her mom’s attempts to get her into mental institutions serve her well in adjusting to her new reality.

“Eight Million Gods” was a fun story. There is an element of romance, but it doesn’t dominate the tale. Instead, we get loads of action, murder and mayhem. In other words, my kind of fantasy story.


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