Note: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy. The review of the first of the books in the trilogy, A Matter of Blood, is here; the review of the second, The Shadow of the Soul, is here.
The first two books of Sarah Pinborough’s FORGOTTEN GODS trilogy opened with one of the members of the shadowy group known as The Bank committing murder most foul — and supernatural — and The Chosen Seed continues that pattern. This time, though, the murders are even more explicitly sacrilegious, for the killer is calling his means of infecting people with an amped-up version of AIDS “the word of your God.” The police know that someone is deliberately infecting random people, but they have little to go on to try to catch him.
Cass Jones is no longer in a position to go after the killer, for he is himself on the run from the police, and has been for months, ever since Mr. Bright framed him for murder. At least Cass has begun to recover from the shot he took to the shoulder, and the weight he lost as a result of the injury has helped disguise him so that he can operate in plain sight. Because Cass still has work to do: he needs to find Luke, his nephew, who was stolen by The Bank at birth. He’s turned for help to people who knows on the wrong side of the law, some of whom still have scores to settle with him, but he has little choice.
Pinborough follows these two threads in alternating chapters, deftly building suspense, and then bringing in yet another, that of Mr. Bright and his attempts to keep control of a growing cadre at The Bank who believe that their own control of the world is growing tenuous. In fact, they’re looking for a way home. By now readers will have figured out who these shadowy men are in the grand scheme of things, and that “home” is not in this world or even this universe. But God seems to have abandoned them just as thoroughly as he seems to have abandoned mankind, and he is not opening the Pearly Gates to anyone, it seems, though the members of The Bank will do whatever it takes to find the way.
Deftly moving from this character to that, balancing the tension among all the different threads, and finally weaving them all into a satisfactory and unexpected conclusion, Pinborough has written a series that keeps readers compulsively turning pages. I especially enjoyed the challenges to religious beliefs, or to the lack of them, that Pinborough poses for her readers; no one, regardless of his or her religious affiliation, can feel entirely comfortable throughout this trilogy, fiction though it may be. Endings are difficult to get right, but Pinborough hits this one right on the nose.
With this trilogy, Pinborough has landed herself on my list of horror writers whose books I will purchase without knowing anything about them except that she wrote them. It’s short list, but she has definitely earned her place on it.