All Hail the House Gods by Andrew J. Stone drops the reader into a dystopian future where even the illusion of autonomy and choice has been eradicated. Kurt, our protagonist, and his wife, Katie live in a city run by the Coupling Caucus, whose mission is to organize society in such a way that will produce daily sacrifices to the hungry House Gods. They are born to mate, and they mate to sacrifice.
Families are non-existent in AHTHG’s reality. Children are taken from their parents and raised at the Offspring Oasis, where they are either culled for the House Gods or paired off based on puberty and virility. They are taught to “pug” at a young age to increase their chances of being coupled before they are chosen for sacrifice to the House Gods.
After one of their own is chosen and fed to the House Gods, Katie decides she must start a collective to resist the Coupling Caucus and wage war on the houses, and Kurt is taken along for the ride. It’s not long before Kurt overhears a theory that goes against all the collective believes in. Are some House Gods good? Is it possible to overthrow the current system without violence?
To know anything about Andrew J. Stone is to know that he holds deeply leftist political views, and it’s clear that those views informed this novella. There’s a metaphorical war going on in its pages between centrist, “Let’s-all-get-along” liberals and leftists, and the fight between the two sides was illuminated well by Stone.
The prose in All Hail the House Gods is easily digestible, well-written, and effective. Written from Kurt’s perspective, the story propels itself nicely, making it a quick and exciting read. Kurt is a perfectly likable protagonist you want to root for. Will he find a peaceful solution to end the loss of life to the House Gods?
January 6th, 2021 was a dark day for those of us in the U.S. Rioters protesting the presidential election of Joe Biden stormed D.C. and breached the capitol building. Since then, we’ve seen Republicans and Democrats alike call for “healing” and a “reconciliation between the sides.” If I can, let me relate this to the theme of the book: there are some who believe that there are good people on both sides and that it’s worth reaching across the aisle and working within the confines of the system in place. Kurt, as a character, falls firmly within this group, while Katie and her comrades know that doing so is useless.
Will it be worth it for Kurt, in the end, to put his trust in the belief that some House Gods are good? Pick up a copy of All Hail the House Gods to find out.