To the gods and ghouls that he cooks for, Rupert Wong is little more than a mouthy piece of meat. At best, the titular character of Cassandra Khaw’s gloriously gory series hardly registers as anything more than an annoyance. At worst, he’s viewed as a tool to be used up, until he can only serve as fuel and food for divinity.
Part of Abaddon Books’s shared “Gods and Monsters” universe, the sequel to Khaw’s 2015 novella Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef, Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth plucks main-character Rupert Wong from the familiarity of his life in Kuala Lumpur, dropping him headfirst into a conflict between some heavy hitters of the Greek pantheon and members of a mysterious organization known as Vanquis. Persona non grata in his hometown due to events in the previous book that lead members of his own pantheon to view him as a traitor, Rupert is removed from everything that is familiar and is transplanted, rather abruptly, to a dreary London neighborhood that seems downright lousy with Greek gods and figures from other European mythologies.
There are two huge things that Cassandra Khaw does in Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth that make the book—and the characters that inhabit it—too interesting to walk away from. First, there’s what drew me to Khaw’s writing in the first place: how she writes about flesh and food in a way that makes reading about the go-to nourishment of ghouls and gods a chilling, but captivating experience. Then there’s the way that Khaw writes the remains of the Greek pantheon struggling to gain a foothold in a world that has largely written them off as obsolete—and whose new gods are far less open to sharing.
If you’ve been paying attention to me at any point over the past year, you probably noticed that I’m a bit… fixated on cannibalism in fiction. From Tokyo Ghoul to Hannibal to an actual non-fiction book about how very natural cannibalism is, I’ve been hip deep in media and non-fiction centering the subject. It’s been great and gross!
Back in 2015, author Cassandra Khaw (who happens to be one of my pals on top of being a fantastic writer) wrote a novella called Rupert Wong Cannibal Chef and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. And when the sequel came out this year, well… I just had to review it. When else would I get to talk about one of my favorite writers’s work, cannibalism, and Greek mythology?