The world ended—twice. Only Esther, the Eternal One, saw it all happen. As head of the powerful Revenant Sisterhood, she shepherds humanity from Cathedral, the Last City. Except Cathedral isn't the last city, and her sisterhood's power is far from holy.
It’s the year 2500, give or take. The passage of time has become as blurry as the gray wastes that cover most of North America. No moon or stars light the night, and demonic hordes smash against the last outposts of civilization.
Two reborn nations vie for humanity’s future. In the west, Cathedral unleashes its God-engines—ancient walking war machines—in a final bid to cleanse the earth. In the east, the struggling city-state of Bastion turns to the last living AI for salvation. Between them, a tribe of technological scavengers unwittingly holds the balance of power.
Hell is on the horizon. Who will survive?
I often wonder what it is that makes me want to keep turning a page in a book. What hooks did the author sink into my skin that compels me to find out what happens next?
Ofttimes, it's a high-octane plot that relentlessly pushes the characters into one deadly situation after the next. This book isn't that – it's a bit more of a slow burn, though the characters are always in life-threatening circumstances. Sometimes it's the authorial voice, bleeding off the page. There's a bit of that here – Yuval's prose is stylized yet accessible, somewhat formal yet vivid and immersive.
What propelled me through The Hand of God was the atmosphere of the setting. It's like nothing I've read before. There are heavy religious undertones, and the book depicts its monsters like biblically accurate angels and demons. Body horror, despair, and insanity, like a blend of the Shimmer in the film Annihilation, Lovecraft's unknowable horrors, and utter desolation like Berserk's Midlands after the Eclipse.
This book isn't confined by genre, not at all. It's equal parts sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and all of it is done impeccably. Intrigue is subtly woven into the narration as the full extent of the double-apocalypse comes into clearer focus. The details of the second apocalypse – the opening of the Hellmouth – are still unclear to me, and I really hope we learn more about it in the recently published book two, All Of Our Sins.
The story spans, I believe, several hundred years. The timeline is a bit fuzzy, and I suspect that's intentional. Regardless, we begin by following one girl's story before the end of the world, then jump forward to a new set of POV characters living in the last cities in the wasteland that was once North America. All of these characters are compelling, but my favorite was the battle walker A-11. That Yuval made me care so strongly for the whereabouts of a literal weapon of mass destruction speaks to his talents as a writer. A-11's chapters were equal parts poignant and hilarious while remaining philosophically interesting.
Despite jumping around in time and being thoroughly confused about events at certain points in history, at no point was I ever bored or disengaged by the story. The book even commits the sin of ending with a hard cliffhanger, normally something that would make me ragequit the series. Instead, here it has me chomping at the bit to continue with the next book.
Even if you've never picked up a fantasy/scifi/horror book before, I'd recommend you start with this one. The Hand of God truly something special, and I can't wait to see what horrors Dark Legacy has in store next.