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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Vindico: I Am Liberation, I Am Punishment, and I Am Judgment by Alex McCann Johnson is an apocalyptic action novel that both pulls together and pushes apart legendary and well-known mythological gods and chimerical creatures from a wide spectrum of folklore, both ancient and modern. Well, modern from a time-linear perspective of medieval onward. Modern in the context of ancient being long before man. This is war and mortal man is on the cusp of erasure. Like it or not, there is a god who is pushed to the forefront to save it all, and that god is Vindico, the central figure and savior, contrary to popular man-made opinions on the ridiculous notion of a single God. Vindico represents hope even in his anger, and he is surrounded in battle on both sides by deities, mortals, immortals, and fabled beings, converging paths with the likes of Apollo, Thor, Achilles, and even the Japanese Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu, just to name a few. “Werewolves and immortals, all under the control of the titans, are hunting for your dear friend.”
Vindico is a lot to unpack, so I'm going to need you to sit and read this for a moment. Trust me, it's worth it. The novel is broken down into the three parts of the subtitle, which is not something I realized initially but is a really clever way to segue from one iteration to the next. I was close to giving up before the prologue ended because the backstory is overwhelming, but again, pressing forward is worth it. As a god, Vindico has the fallibility of a mortal, and that makes him relatable. All of Alex McCann Johnson's characters are like this and it is in their development that Johnson shines. The voices are distinct and individual. Zirk, a man who had the horrible misfortune of being punished for his suicide by being transformed into an immortal, is by far and away my favorite. The aftermath is heartbreaking and one particular scene involving his father had me close to tears. For all of the complex mythology, the narrative is incredibly modern in the best possible way. As a California-born girl of the 90s, I was just waiting for Poseidon to say to Apollo, “Farrrr out dudddeeee.” It is heaps of fun getting into the lives of all the characters. This is about war but it is, first and foremost, an adventure. It's a slow start but then it is full steam ahead, wonderfully creative, and supremely ambitious. It ends with a clear push into a second installment which, with the luck of the luckiest gods, won't be too far off.