BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
We are so excited to host a Q&A with Maz Evans, author of the brilliantly funny Who Let the Gods Out? series.
Read on for a review of the latest book in the series, a giveaway for a copy of Against All Gods and an exclusive Q&A in which we ask Maz all about writing, author visits and how it feels to see the much-loved series draw to a close. We also find out why Maz wishes to own a 'flushing stone' and we try to gain some clues about the (top-secret) next writing project...
Book Title: Against All Gods (available here)
Author: Maz Evans
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: February 2019
Most Suitable For: Years 4-6
This week sees the publication of the fourth and final instalment of the hugely popular Who Let the Gods Out series by Maz Evans. By now, fans of the hilarious mythology-meets-modern-life stories know to expect a roller-coaster ride of high-flying action, heaps of humour and hugely poignant moments too. In fact, a number of readers have told me recently just how nervous they are to see what sort of emotional adventure may be in store as the much-enjoyed story of Elliot Hooper draws to a close. Without giving away too many spoilers, I can assure you all that the final book provides a totally optimal ending that closes the series in the most satisfying of ways.
Elliot is mid-quest as we begin this fourth adventure and so far events do not look like they will turn out in his favour. Elliot, desperate to save his mum Josie from the clutches of the underworld, makes a deal with Thanatos to hand over the powerful chaos stones that he has worked so hard to collect. Elliot knows that the stones potentially provide Thanatos with the power to wreak havoc in the most dastardly and devastating of ways, but after chewing over the moral dilemma of what to do concludes that this is the only way to save his mum and that's what matters most in the whole world.
After a surprise reaction from Josie and a few revelations from the devious Thanatos (we never really expected it to be quite so simple, did we?), Elliot faces his biggest battle yet as the gang of gods rally round to fight not just for Elliot but for the whole of mankind. With the most epic of battle scenes, plenty of slapstick and some tear-jerking moments, this is a fantastically entertaining story in which every page is filled with personality and punch.
There is so much to love about this series. I enjoyed how Maz Evans seamlessly deploys different types of humour; from witty puns and in-jokes based on classical mythology to visual comedy and good old toilet humour, it isn’t hard to see why these stories are so well-loved by young fans. As well as the fantastically fun brand of observational humour, the stories are emotional in parts too, with tears of laughter giving way to tears of sadness at times. Elliot’s mum is seriously ill and one thing that is not funny is the harsh reality of her early onset dementia and Elliot’s experiences of having to make really difficult choices as a young carer. The way in which Elliot grows through the series is quite moving and another aspect of this series that I really love is how the comical cast of mythological characters represent the powerful role that stories can play in providing much-needed comic relief and escapism for readers young and old.
All-in-all, this is a highly recommendable series that is sure to continue knocking the socks off readers in the 7-11 age bracket for years to come.
This series also features on:
with Maz Evans, author of the Who Let the Gods Out series.
Your latest book is the final part of the series. How does it feel to see the Who Let the Gods Out? series come to an end?
I was very emotional about it! It's no understatement to say that these books have changed my life - and seen a lot of changes in my life. But I'm so proud of them and delighted that they've met so many happy hands.
Can you describe Against All Gods in five words?
No. It's. Really. Quite. Long... Tee tee!
Your books are celebrated for striking a brilliant balance of laugh-out-loud humour and deep emotion. How do you keep this balance in check when you are writing?
You're very kind. I'm asked this a lot, but the honest truth is that it isn't something I do deliberately! I guess I just see the world in emotional technicolour - comedy and tragedy are very close neighbours and I feel both very keenly. I'm a terrible judge of my own writing as it elicits very little emotion from me at either end of the spectrum. Although this one made me cry...
Which character from the series would you most like to meet?
I love Aphrodite. She's a kick-butt girl and can Love Taser people. What's not to love?
Do you have a personal favourite among the four books in the series?
I always say they are like my children - I like different ones for different reasons... WLTGO started the journey, STQ was a pain to write, but taught me so much about writing, BTO was a joy to write, but taught me how to let go of an idea that doesn't work and AAG was a total delight to write and went through on a single edit! I hope they stand together as a series - the challenge with this kind of saga is not to write the same book over and over - I hope I have succeeded.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about the series is the way we see young Elliot grow and develop as a character. Did you have his journey mapped out from the very beginning, or did it evolve as you wrote each book?
Yes, Elliot's journey was mapped out from the get-go and didn't change a beat. But everything else around him did! I really enjoy Virgo's character development over the series too - she is a joy to write as I love the way she views the world.
If you could possess your own personalised chaos stone, what would it be called and what powers would it offer?
The Flushing Stone. There's a reason I focus so much on Elliot's inability to flush the toilet in the series - I live with three kids. Nuff said.
Elliot goes through some really tough times through the series and the band of gods and goddesses offer some much-needed comic relief and imaginative escapism. Where do you personally turn to for light relief on heavy days?
I find that my mental wellness is very closely linked to my physical, so I desperately try to guard time to exercise. The author community is incredibly supportive and there's always someone to talk to when you're struggling - not least as we're all trying to avoid writing our next novel!
The books quite powerfully raise awareness of young carers and in particular those with experience of adults with dementia. How did you research these aspects of the story?
It is drawn a little from my own life as I cared for my grandparents when they had dementia. I met and spoke to a lot of Young Carers throughout the series and they are simply the most incredible humans - and often woefully under-supported, despite the best efforts of some brilliant charities who are finding their vital budgets slashed... # Don'tGetMeStarted
You spend a lot of time visiting schools and actively promoting reading for pleasure. How do you think the landscape of education has changed since you were at school?
Well given I was at school in the 1840s... I think there's a lot more focus (rightly) on the individual and creating a rounded education for a child. Educators are extraordinary individuals and I'm in awe of what I see. But they too are suffering from massive cuts - and our whole education culture is still absurdly test-orientated.
What is the funniest question you have been asked on a school visit?
"Are you wearing any knickers?" That kept me on my toes!
I can’t wait to hear what your next writing project is! Can you give us any clues or hints?
Okay... it's going to have words, chapters and a cover...! My next book will be a standalone, which is exciting for me as it will be lovely to write a whole story within a single book. I hope it will have the mixture of magic, comedy and reality that people seem to enjoy - but other than that, my lips are sealed!
For more from Maz, follow @MaryAliceEvans on Twitter at or visit the https://maz.world website.
Thanks to the publishers at Chicken House, we have a copy of Against All Gods to give away to one of our followers!
Many thanks to Maz for answering our questions and to the publisher for sending us a review copy of the book.