The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred
**A thank you to Net Galley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review**
WARNING: Sexual imagery that can potentially leave you, the reader, baffled.
In a long ago era a book such as The Alehouse at the End of the World by Stevan Allred would be one to marvel at. We would pick through its interesting nuisances and hidden comedic breath, hoping to come out the other end with something we could take away from the experience. This, however, is the year 2018 and all I can say is, why oh why was this book written now?
Allow me a brief moment of generalization as I say that this book at its heart is misogynistic, sexist, and unnecessarily crude to the point of ridiculousness. Underneath the fable lies the need to tell meaningless cock, fart, and poop jokes like a caveman who just discovered civilization. I did not take anything intellectual away from this, instead feeling as one does after watching all the movies in the American Pie catalog; dirty and brain dead.
I picked up this book mainly for it’s cover (I like good artwork) and the synopsis sounded like something that was semi up my alley, while being just different enough to dip my toes outside my comfort zone. I was very much mistaken. This was not at all what I had expected.
GOOD POINT: My disdain for the story aside, the writing was a force to be reckoned with. The way the words flowed effortlessly made the reading incredibly easy, making the experience a little less painful for me. The author knows what he is doing in this context, I just wish he had used his incredible gift to tell a different story.
The book begins with the death of a lady who is the Beloved of a man whom we only know as the Fisherman. He declares that he shall rescue her from the Isle of the Dead. So begins his journey that leads him to the belly of a whale that spits him out right onto the Isle of the Dead. Here we meet the evil Crow, the Cormorant, the Pelican, and the Frigate; all demi-gods though the Crow is the highest of them. He is the King of the Dead, ruling over the Isle of the Dead that has been eaten by the Kiamah beast.
The plot doesn’t really heat up until the fertility goddess appears. By the order of some oracles she brings to life the Fisherman’s Beloved by having her nurse at her breast. Thus, kick starting a sort of prophecy that would bring about the end of the Kiamah beast who is just the worst.
GOOD POINT: I was not troubled by the breast feeding scene as some might be. It was a great depiction of what breasts are in fact made to do. Bringing forth sustenance to ensure life. It was actually beautifully depicted.
After the fertility goddess brings back to life the Fisherman’s Beloved it is revealed that she is meant to seduce the evil Crow in order to produce his offspring. She was also told that two lovers would need to be sacrificed in order to defeat the Crow and the Kiamah, that would be the Fisherman and his Beloved, which doesn’t really work because as the story progresses we see that there really isn’t a mutual love between them.
After all the Fisherman has been through his beloved has zero memories of her past life and therefore has zero feelings for him, but he’s an impressive lover so she diddles with him, using him for his sex, but essentially is just pulling his heart strings along, making him think that they have finally been reunited.
Most of the story deals with the Fisherman’s Beloved lusting after the Crow, while the Pelican lusts after the Fisherman. There is some disturbing scenes of the Fertility Goddess having sex with the Crow. She also bangs the Pelican, the Fisherman’s Beloved, and the Frigate bird. Basically letting her nether regions touch every living thing within a two inch radius of her because she feels she’s justified.
Look, I’m not a prude, but this was just so cringy to me. The author makes reference in his acknowledgements that the sexual escapades of the Fertility Goddess were taken from his readings of Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. I have read this book multiple times and while yes, it promotes the experience of many different lovers, no where in its pages did it recommend adultery or cheating. This is what the Fertility Goddess does and spreads to the other characters. The Fisherman is basically assaulted by the Pelican pretending to be his Beloved, because had he known who he was bedding, he definitely would not have partook.
Then while all this is happening, his Beloved runs off for a “night of passion” with the Crow. This is all kept secret until the Pelican and the Fisherman’s Beloved want more and get caught when the Crow, vile creature that he is, beats the hell out of the Fisherman’s Beloved. I did not feel sorry for her. She was warned many times that the Crow was a bastard and went to him for sex anyway. This is a poor representation of women and it made me disgusted at the character.
Additionally, the female characters have time to run off together and “couple” essentially playing with each other until climax and I’m sitting her wondering why this is a thing, but the men aren’t running around doing the same? It very much felt like the old way of thinking that “if girls play with each other it’s not gay, it’s for my [male] pleasure” which was just gross. If you are going to have scenes like that, the least you can do is make your story more realistic and show the men doing the same.
At this point things speed up because the Fertility Goddess is preggo and they must now defeat the Kiamah beast and then the Crow (Though the Fisherman’s Beloved is torn up about it, solidifying my hate). It all kind of happens quickly in the last quarter of the book which means that the other 75% of it is just avian demi-gods fucking around and with the two humans.
The Kiamah is destroyed along with a few other key characters that while their deaths were sad, I really could only muster a “meh.” The story abruptly ends after that, leaving the reader with an awkward “where are they now” montage at the very end.
GOOD POINT: I will admit that there was one thing that made me smile at the end and it was literally the very last sentence. I won’t explain, because if you are like me, this will be the one highlight of the book if you make it all the way to the end and I would not take that from you.
BAD POINT: Bird Cock
2 Out of 5 Stars
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