Gods are popular right now. Not the traditional Judeo-Christian Yahweh, Muslim Allah, or Jesus that thousands all over the world revere and worship. But the “old gods” – the Greco-Roman pantheon, the Norse warlords, even HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu – are reemerging in the form of novels, film, and TV adaptations that bring them into the modern world.
The most prominent of those is likely Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Both of them have also branched into Egyptian deities and Asgardian adventures. HBO Max has the critically acclaimed Lovecraft Country, based on Matt Ruff’s eldritch-inspired novel.
Russell Nohelty just launched a Kickstarter for the end of his 11-novel Godsverse saga about the gods bringing about the apocalypse and has done a series of comic anthologies about Cthulhu. Graphic novelist George O’Connor recently released the final issue of his Olympians series – turning the Greek gods into Marvel-esque superheroes. Not unlike the MCU’s own Thor and Loki.
Rizwan Asad has taken a different tack – instead of throwing normal people into the realms or machinations of the gods, the gods themselves are front and center, sort of. The gods live among the mortals – not playing with them for sport or manipulating things behind the scenes. They’re just happy to go about their lives.
New Mythological Visions
In Asad’s debut novel, Dio in the Dark, the man once known as the god of wine and song, Dionysus, is a slacker, partying all night in his chosen city of Toronto. his brother Apollo’s a failed rock star who’s adopted a hermit life.
Their dad, Zeus, now Zed, is a sanitation worker, thought to be a little crazy as he’s always ranting about the Darkness coming. Dio has no interest in Zed’s nonsense, at odds with his father, believing Zed to be responsible for the death of Dio’s human mother.
But when Zed disappears, Dio must motivate himself and Apollo to get up and find their father, before destruction descends on Canada.
It’s no surprise Riz Asad writes so convincingly about Toronto. It’s his chosen city too, where he works in the financial sector, operates a popular food blog, Chocolates and Chai, and hangs out with his cat (the subject of another of his books).
Chocolates and Chai focuses on breakfast and comfort food recipes. Asad started writing, inspired by the international cuisine he had encountered in the years before moving to Toronto. The goal of the blog was to discover and illuminate his and others’ love for food and share the stories behind dishes. It’s been highlighted in national publications and some of the recipes have made it onto the menus at high-end hotels.
Prior to his mythological retellings, Asad wrote some horror short stories. A few of those made it into published anthologies. Dio itself started as a short story that Asad expanded into the 200+ page novel. In addition to his fictional works, Asad has compiled his best recipes on Chocolates and Chai into a free e-cookbook.
As for the world of Dio and Zed, reader’s delight – Asad is currently writing a follow-up book in that universe, coming soon, maybe even by the end of this year.
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Paul Rose Jr has worked as TV News Producer, Forensic Analyst, and Train Conductor, among many other things. He’s the former TV Editor for Infuzemag.com and owns more books, DVDs, and comics than most people have seen in their lifetimes. When he’s not writing articles, he exercises his creative muscle writing screenplays and acting in film and television in Los Angeles, CA.