About the Book
Callie, a Classics major, flees home to protect her family from a monster straight out of mythology. Visions lead her to Nectar and Ambrosia: the weirdest pub on Earth, where inter-dimensional travelers with attention seeking issues get drunk in between the A-list celebrity lives they create. They can’t pretend to be gods anymore—not since a treaty with the current Supreme Deity promising they won’t intervene in human affairs.
The Doorkeeper of this threshold, Florian, rides herd on the rowdy Amaranthine and offers her shelter and a job. Callie likes the lonely, mysterious bartender more than she should. For Florian, her presence is a ray of light in the gray monotony of his sentence behind the bar, but he keeps a cautious distance—the truth of how he became Doorkeeper could change Callie’s perception of him forever.
When angels show up for a war council over Zeus’s irrational mutters about a comeback, Callie has uncontrolled visions of an apocalypse. Ex-gods realize she’s the first Oracle Priestess in generations. All Callie wanted was keep her parents safe, and now it seems she must sacrifice her future to keep the rest of humanity safe, too. Ambrosia could be the key to harnessing her visions— or it could cost her life.
War is coming. The threshold between worlds has never been more fragile. Callie must discover who is pulling Zeus’s strings and avert the final battle—before the immortal vying to become the next Supreme Deity kills her first.
This book is part of the SPFBO 2018.
You know, I didn’t know what to expect going into this. I try really hard to stay away from reading just about anything (even the synopsis) of SPFBO books. I stay away from them on Goodreads until after I read them, and when I mark them as “read” I do it from the main search screen and do my damndest not to look at the star ratings. I go into these books as neutral as I possibly can, and I think in this book’s respect, it really paid off. I found myself delightfully surprised, and friends, I love being delightfully surprised.
Nectar and Ambrosia certainly is its own creature. A sort of hodgepodge of religious lore, urban fantasy, social media issues, and even war, it’s hard to really peg this book as just one thing, and that’s part of what made this book so damn addicting.
Callie, our protagonist, ends up fleeing from her adoptive parents’ house due to being in danger. She finds herself in a strange place, out of her seizure medication, with no friend in sight, and strapped for cash. This huge, screaming danger has followed her, and one thing leads to another and she finds herself tripping (literally) her way into this dive bar called Nectar and Ambrosia.
Nectar and Ambrosia isn’t your average bar. This one is for supernatural creatures only, and soon Callie is introduced to an alcoholic Zeus, some of the sidhe, a few members of the Norse pantheon and some others. She handles all of this with aplomb and quickly finds herself falling into the rhythm of life in Nectar and Ambrosia.
Florian, her boss, was someone I pegged as her romantic attachment from the start. It was pretty easy to smell that one coming, however, I really have to hand it to Hamill, because she took what could have been an angsty, trope-ridden relationship, and kind of turned it on its head. Due to what Callie is, their relationship has to be a bit different, and a lot of the “you will be together until the end” prophecies foreseen by Florian’s senile old grandmother take on a different light. This ended up being a romance/relationship development that I really enjoyed, and I tend to struggle with the believability of these sorts of things.
The main thrust of the novel is this. Zeus, or Z, as he prefers to be called, decides that he’s kind of sick of not being the hardcore god he used to be, so he decides to launch a reality television show, and social media campaign. The other gods see this as a breach of the divine contract they all drew up together, and a war starts. If that sounds quirky, it kind of is, but that’s also why it was so awesome. It just worked. It fit in this quirky, weird world that Hamill has created, and I just loved this take on the gods being bored, and mundane, and attention-starved. They were oh-so-human, while still managing to be completely out of touch with reality.
Now, if I did have some complaints, I felt like the pacing was a bit off. It took some time for things to get going, and events to really move forward. The start is a little drip-drip-drip with information and events, the action and fast-paced plot don’t really swing into full gear until the second half of the book. Now, that’s not to say that the first half is wasted. There’s a lot going on here, lots of development and crafting, lots of setup so what happens later makes sense, but it is worth noting.
Furthermore, I will say that Callie’s little parentage reveal wasn’t really that big of a shock to me. It made sense, but it wasn’t the “wow” I really expected it to be. To tell you the truth, I felt that way about a few of the reveals that come along in the book. Though, I will admit that I’m not exactly sure this is the kind of book that’s supposed to shock my socks off, if you get my drift. So, I’d take this more as a neutral observation rather than any real mark of favor or disfavor.
However, Hamill makes up for that with her writing, which is direct, but just descriptive enough without going overboard. The scenes she wrote, and especially the characters (which seems to be her real skill) really came to life as I read the book. I will also give her a huge shoutout for representation. There are openly bisexual characters in this book, and a gay couple that features prominently, along with their children, in the second half of the book. I will also give her huge props for taking this book in a direction that I completely and absolutely didn’t expect going into it.
So, where does this leave you? This book was fun, fast, and completely unique. It’s an easy read, especially if you like quirky characters and gods that are somewhat less than divine. If the pacing is a little skewed, and some of the reveals underwhelmed me, the rest of the book made up for it.
In the end, Nectar and Ambrosia made me wish that this bar was a real place that I could actually go and spend time in. I wanted these people to really exist, because they were just that awesomely fun. To be honest with you, dear reader, I hope this is the first book in a series. There was a ton of setup here, a sort of feeling of cleaning off the beach before we can explore than land more – feeling, and with how much fun this book is, I just think it would be a waste to be the only one written in this world.
Also, I’m totally pro-Zeus Reality TV show.