The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
Published by: Amy Einhorn Books
Published on: March 15, 2012
Page Count: 432
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audioboook
Official Book Trailer: Available on Putnam Books’ YouTube Channel
Synopsis from the Publisher
1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.
Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this untested “police force.” And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward-at the border of Five Points, the world’s most notorious slum.
One night while returning from his rounds, heartsick and defeated, Timothy runs into a little slip of a girl—a girl not more than ten years old—dashing through the dark in her nightshift . . . covered head to toe in blood.
Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can’t bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn’t sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.
Amy Einhorn has a way of finding and bringing to the public the most interesting new writers. Most every title I read grabs me and makes me grateful to be a reader. The Gods of Gotham is no different. Lyndsay Faye is an incredible author who has brought a rough, dangerous, and uniquely promising New York City to life. The characters were robust and full of life. I genuinely cared about Timothy, his love interest, Mercy, and Bird Daly, the 10 year old girl whose appearance changes his life. I loved how each and every one of them were messy, complicated people. What they did and the choices they made kept me on my toes. This was not only true of the empathetic characters. Timothy’s brother Valentine and Silkie Marsh, a local brothel madame are full of surprises as well.
Outside of the mystery itself, what fascinated me the most about this novel was the level of anti-Catholicism that existed in New York during the 19th century. There were quotes about Catholicism throughout the book and I was often surprised by what I read as well as by who said it. It isn’t as if I didn’t know that such feelings existed and, to a lesser degree, still exist today. It’s another thing to experience it through a well written novel.
When I knew for certain that I was going to be going to New York City for BEA this year, I started gravitating toward fiction set in the Big Apple. The Gods of Gotham was the best of those novels. Through Timothy’s eyes and while walking with him along his beat, I got a sense of the town, even if it was back in 1845. When I wasn’t wondering when I’d ever catch a cab, I thought often about this book while I was in New York. Timothy was there in every policeman I saw, not the NYPD I grew up with on TV. That a book and its characters remain alive when you visit its location says it all. I couldn’t recommend The Gods of Gotham any more highly.