Book Review: The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

Posted March 14, 2022 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Orphanage of Gods

The Orphanage of Gods

by Helena Coggan

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton on February 21, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: Bisexual Character(s), LGBTQIAP+ Character(s)
Content Warnings: Blood, Cannibalism, Child Death, Death, Death of Parent, Gaslighting, Gun Violence, Injury, Torture, Violence

Rating:

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

Twenty years ago, the humans came for their gods.

In the bloody revolution, gods were all but wiped out. Ever since, the children they left behind have been imprisoned in an orphanage, watched day and night by the ruthless Guard. Any who show signs of divine power vanish from their beds in the night, all knowledge of their existence denied.

No one has ever escaped the orphanage.

Until now.

Seventeen-year-old Hero is finally free - but at a terrible price. Her sister has been captured by the Guard and is being held in a prison in the northern sea. Hero desperately wants to get her back, and to escape the murderous Guardsmen hunting her down. But not all the gods are dead, and the ones waiting for Hero in the north have their own plans for her - ones that will change the world forever . . .

As she advances further and further into the unknown, Hero will need to decide: how far is she willing to go to do what needs to be done?


The Orphanage of Gods has such a low Goodreads rating and I went into this book all like, “those must be overly critical! I bet it’s not that bad!” I embarked on my reading journey determined to find the sparkling diamond hidden beneath the façade. Despite my best effort, despite going into each part with a bright attitude of “this part will be better!” … I just can’t. I can’t give The Orphanage of Gods a shining review because it’s not an example of a good story, good writing, or good characters. The kindest thing I could possibly call it is “mediocre” and even that’s a stretch.

When the story begins, it’s night. Our protagonist – ridiculously named “Hero” – is hiding with her friend Joshua from the Guard. Hero gives us backstory and we learn she’s a half-god, her friend is a full-blooded extremely dangerous god, they’ve escaped the orphanage, and they’re going to rescue their friend who is a human but was taken as though she was a god. Concept, interesting. Result, nope. The story continues on with a lot of ordering around, world building through dialogue and flashbacks, and so many illogical choices it made my head spin. The characters escape things they shouldn’t, fall into action scenes that are so obviously constructed for fear of a lack of action. It’s just… no.

The Orphanage of Gods has three different POV characters (each gets a third of the book) and you absolutely can’t tell the difference between them except when they’re addressed in dialogue. Ten-year-old Raven, in particular, was a mess of a POV character. She’s in the book to be the “chosen one” but does nothing, is allowed to do nothing, and really… adds nothing? I’m not sure why Coggan chose to write in three separate POVs. The characters are so underdeveloped that if Coggan stuck to one POV, at least the reader may have gotten a deeper sense of the character.

Because I can’t close this review without saying this… … okay, these characters are kept until they’ve passed 18 years in an orphanage, then they’re cut to see what color their blood is. I just kept thinking… there are menstruating characters, right? Under this rule, their period would have given them away before they spent eighteen years in the orphanage. Not to mention things like bloody noses, accidental injuries, and fights. The central concept of this magical world is flawed.

There is so much “telling” in The Orphanage of Gods. The reader never experiences the world, not really. We learn about it through dialogue or through the POV character directly explaining things. Immersive writing is such a central lesson in penning fantasy, and I’m grateful that I rarely stumble across a book that does this so poorly. The writing style was strongly not for me, and better suited for maybe literary or speculative fiction.

I suppose I should give The Orphanage of the Gods a few points, though. It reminded me why low book ratings deserve red flags. Given four or so more drafts, this could have been an interesting fantasy. Instead, it screams of an underdeveloped story with interchangeable characters and amateur writing. Hard pass.

Setting

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 0.5 out of 5.

The Orphanage of Gods Will Be Donated

So long and good riddance, I definitely won’t read this again. I would have DNF’d the first time if I wasn’t so stubborn.

send me your thoughts

What was the last book you read with a low rating?

Do you instantly avoid lowly rated books, or do you try them if they still sound interesting?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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Other Books Published in February 2019

8 books found

★★★★½

★★★★

★★★


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