ChiZine Publications is the premier publisher of “weird” fiction. The books that it published are both genre- and mind-bending and not afraid to break the rules in order to make a point. I happily dug into “We Will All Go Down Together” by Gemma Files hoping for another read in this same vein.
This is a novel of the Five-Family Coven. The families had banded together 400 years ago to try to take over the world and shape it in their image but were ultimately defeated. This led to a break between the families and they remained in a continual state of feuding through the intervening centuries. Yet even as they hated bitterly, the families are slowly being drawn closer together over the years as if being drawn toward a cataclysmic event.
Now, in Toronto and the surrounding area, the world has begun to change. A powerful force is pulling together an army of sorts as it strives to break into our reality and there is no one strong enough to defeat this force on its own. As this otherworldly intruder begins to invade the minds of the world’s lost souls, the Five-Family Coven must come together once more to stop this evil entity. The question is this: once together, with the families be fighting the evil force or will they be too busy fighting amongst themselves?
“We Will All Go Down Together” is an interesting book in that it is part novel and part short story collection. It is a collection of short stories each centered around the Five-Family Coven and arranged in the book to form a sort of unified, if somewhat disjointed, story. Files has written these story over the span of many years so there is some variation in writing style and the quality of writing as Files has grown as a writer over the years. The stories can also vary in tone substantially and this kind of keeps the reader off balance as well. If you are looking for a traditional narrative, then this is not the book for you. This book requires a fair amount of investment in reading the stories and filling in some of the gaps that are left between stories. There is a central storyline here but it can be difficult to see at times as the different pieces start to fall into place. There were times when I felt like a bit of a detective trying to piece together the clues to find the heart of the mystery. This is a different experience that reading most books and I would expect that it may not work for everyone.
Ultimately, “We Will All Go Down Together” creates a richly textured world full of characters that range from the bizarre to the almost mundane so that the book has more of the feel of reality more so than fantasy. Even while the events of the book are fantastic, it is easy to believe that they could be happening because Files writes about them in such a manner that there are layers to the people and events that makes them feel real. The stories are very well written, as I would expect from Files, and are done in her normal manner that makes the story come alive. Files has a way of working in details that make the setting real so that the reader can almost feel as if he can smell the scents and feel the textures of the story. This is something that Files excels at and helps her bring a story to life like very few writers can. The shortcoming of this book is the lack of a unifying narrative to keep me on focus so that at times I lost myself in the story and really had no sense of where it was going. “We Will All Go Down Together” is extremely well written and full of interesting themes but it just did not reach its full potential for me as it may for other readers.
I would like to thank ChiZine Publications and NetGalley for this review copy. “We Will All Go Down Together” is available now.