Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth
Abaddon Books, 155 Pages
Review: Benjamin Thomas
Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth is the second part of the saga of Rupert Wong, our favorite cannibal chef. While Ends of the Earth is technically a novella, it packs more in its pages than most mammoth tomes we find on the shelves. The tremendous difficulty with novellas for writers is the fact that there are a lot more darlings that have to be killed in order to get the desired word count. Khaw’s blade, like the one belonging to her protagonist, is sharp and bloodied. There is nothing in this powerful punch of a story that shouldn’t be there and, surprisingly, I was not left holding the frayed strings of a dozen loose ends.
Ends of the Earth picks up after the end of the first novella in the series, Rupert Wong Cannibal Chef. If you haven’t read the first part, don’t worry, Khaw seamlessly weaves in just enough backstory at just the right moments to give an understanding without dragging the story down.
We follow Rupert from a bloody Beat Bobby Flay / Iron Chef competition where the main ingredients are sauteed eyeballs and browned entrails. Upon completing the contest, Rupert finds himself on the run, driven from where he lives to London where, against both his will and better judgement, he is press-ganged into the Greek pantheon. And, while guts and gore maybe his specialty when he’s serving them, there’s a hint of compassion when he realizes not all delicacies start as willing sources of food. But this humane revelation doesn’t come without a price. Gods are at war and Rupert must quickly find out if he’s 100% smart-ass or if he has some courage buried in his spinal cord.
Khaw hooked me from the beginning with her writing and I feel compelled to inject a paragraph of her descriptive power because it is just that good:
“Orpheus is a literal head on the seat of his wheelchair, the stump of his throat putrid, purple-blotched. A tangle of nerves worm from beneath the flaps of his skin, knotting in the wheels, crawling over the armrests. I suspect that’s how he moves around but I’m not going to ask because frankly, I think I’ve hit my daily foot-in-mouth quota.”
Khaw covers the better side of the Greek Pantheon in her story and expands on a world she introduced in the first Rupert Wong novella. Some of the Gods and Goddesses I remembered from history class, but not knowing all of them didn’t detract from the story at all. The characters are written in such a way that everyone belongs and nothing is out of place or feels forced in order to crowbar in a particular deity’s name.
As I said before: there is nothing in this story that shouldn’t be here and I strongly recommend picking it up to bring some color to the morning or afternoon commute. Of course, as with all cannibal cook-offs, that color’s going to be red.
First published in Shoreline of Infinity issue 8.