Before the Gods by KS Turner

Rating 8.5/10
A work of speculative fiction that is as refreshing as it is accomplished.

This is where it all began.
Everything.
Love, hate, good, evil, us and them.
This is before they were gods.

A mute prophet, a damaged sensitive, and a wayward leader, hold the fate of the world in their hands.
But the ultimate choice? That belongs to the innocent.
It’s what started the battle for life.
It’s what made our world the way it is today.

I have heard them called many things:
Strangers, gods, angels, visitors.
Do not forget their real names,
Because they know our pasts and are not as we’ve been told.

Kate-Sarah Turner’s first love was art, but due to the medium’s limitations when it came to fully realising ideas, she turned to the written word. Her impressive debut, Before the Gods, is a work of speculative fiction that is as refreshing as it is accomplished.

There is an air of mystery surrounding this book. It is illustrated in an admirably minimalistic way and the blurb on the back cover is vague and enticing. It is not until you begin reading that you have any idea of what exactly it is you are reading and you quickly find yourself involved in interwoven storylines within a tale that feels both fantasy and science fiction.

Featuring themes of fate and choice, Before the Gods presents us with an alternative history; evolution and creation are swept away as we find ourselves on an Earth populated by experimental human beings, created by an advanced race of intergalactic travellers known as the kutu. We see events from both perspectives, the kutu’s told in the third person, the human’s in the first person through Tachra’s eyes – this method results in an enjoyable contrast between chapters.

Leading the human cast is young Tachra, and I find it pleasing to say that a female lead in fantasy is no longer as show-stopping as once it was (although it is still refreshing to see). This is Tachra’s story and we follow her as she embarks on a journey of enlightenment and discovery, unearthing powers as old as the land itself, staying firmly on the path of fate whilst trying to make the right choices.

As Tachra’s story unfolds so does that of the kutu. They are fascinating beings, far more advanced than their human creations, but not without compassion, and the bringing together of the human and kutu story threads is something that Turner handles superbly.

The narrative is well-constructed, neither too simple nor too-flowery; just about right for the tale that is being told. The clever switching of the narrative between the humans and kutu, and between first person and third person helps to raise tension and makes for compelling reading.

Before the Gods is a very fresh and welcome addition to the fantasy genre, a thoughtful book whose themes and pace put me in mind of Ursula le Guin. This book is highly recommended for those who enjoy fantasy with a touch of science fiction, and also enjoy being made to think.

About the author
Kate-Sarah Turner grew up in Norwich, studied Art and Design at Central Saint Martins and Middlesex University in London, and now lives in Somerset with a posse of fluffy animals. Kate has a juxtaposition of unusual interests, from playing music to playing chess, and from sculpting bold pieces of art to studying maths. Inspiration for the Chronicles of Fate and Choice trilogy originated from a vivid series of dreams in mid 2004 and Kate began outlining the story two years later in 2006.

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