Summary and book reviews of The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham

A Novel

by Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye X
The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2013, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, fantasizing about the day he has enough money to win the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this new "police force." And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward - at the border of Five Points, the world's most notorious slum.

One night while making his rounds, Wilde literally runs into a little slip of a girl - a girl not more than ten years old - dashing through the dark in her nightshirt... covered head to toe in blood.

Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can't bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn't sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.

Chapter 1

When I set down the initial report, sitting at my desk at the Tombs, I wrote:

On the night of August 21, 1845, one of the children escaped.

Of all the sordid trials a New York City policeman faces every day, you wouldn't expect the one I loathe most to be paperwork. But it is. I get snakes down my spine just thinking about case files.

Police reports are meant to read "X killed Y by means of Z." But facts without motives, without the story, are just road signs with all the letters worn off. Meaningless as blank tombstones. And I can't bear reducing lives to the lowest of their statistics. Case notes give me the same parched-headed feeling I get after a night of badly made New England rum. There's no room in the dry march of data to tell why people did bestial things - love or loathing, defense or greed. Or God, in this particular case, though I don't suppose God was much pleased by it.

If He was watching. I was watching, and it didn't please me any too keenly.

For ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Timothy Wilde's understanding is deeply hampered by his own misconceptions about his loved ones - in particular, Mercy Underhill and his brother Valentine. How unreliable a narrator is Tim? In what ways is he careful to present the whole story, and in what ways does he fail to do so?

  2. The city of New York itself is a significant character in The Gods of Gotham. How would you characterize Timothy's uneasy relationship with New York? How is it affected by the fact that he was born there? How do you feel about New York City, either as a native, a transplant, a visitor, or a complete stranger, and did that feeling change your perception of the novel?

  3. In reference to an Irish laborer being taunted by an American in Chapter Seven, Tim ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Faye's characterizations are also extraordinary. Her main character, Timothy Wilde, has the potential to become a literary staple ala Hercule Poirot or Adam Dalgliesh. He's a brilliant creation: smart, observant, brave, and someone who fights for the underdog, yet he's damaged and has a lot of emotional baggage. He's intelligent and talented without being arrogant, and altogether a very likeable young man. The character has clearly been inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, but Wilde's edges are softer, making him more human and fallible but without crossing the line into caricature or cartoon. Additionally - and perhaps more challenging for an author to accomplish - he continues to grow over the course of the novel. This is what makes Wilde such a compelling protagonist.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Full Review (658 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Vivid period details, fully formed characters, and a blockbuster of a twisty plot put Faye in a class with Caleb Carr. Readers will look forward to the sequel.

Library Journal

The Wilde brothers are a valiantly flawed pair whose adventures dramatically light up this turbulent era. Faye's use of flash, an underground language akin to thieves' cant (British criminal jargon), further enriches this engrossing historical thriller, the first in a new series.

Author Blurb Matthew Pearl, bestselling author of The Dante Club
Lyndsay Faye is a superstar-caliber writer. She confidently and exquisitely re-creates the past while her characters live on with you in the present, the elusive gold standard for a historical novel. Gods of Gotham is a gift to the genre that readers will surely relish while we wait for Faye's next one

Author Blurb Katherine Howe, bestselling author of The Physic Book of Deliverance Dane
Lyndsay Faye's exquisite new novel, The Gods of Gotham, plunges us into the teeming, sordid streets of Old New York... Faye's prose crackles with historical authenticity so cunningly rendered that readers will lose themselves from the very first turn of the page.

Author Blurb Laurie R. King, New York Times bestselling author of The God of the Hive and The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Intriguingly complex yet deliciously smooth, The Gods of Gotham is, in a word, stunning. The vivid characters and deft use of the historical setting read like the work of an established writer at the top of her (or, indeed, his) career - that Faye is a newcomer is cause for an exuberance of fireworks, at the mere thought of so many superb novels yet to come.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Gods of Gotham
This was a fantastic historical mystery taking place in 1852 New York City. The potato famine has caused hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants to flock to New York, causing untoward problems between the protestants and the newly arrived Catholics...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A History of New York's Great Fires

In Lyndsay Faye's novel, The Gods of Gotham, a fire ravages lower Manhattan, setting the stage for her suspenseful historical mystery. In reality, New York City has fallen victim to more than one devastating blaze.

In 1609, Henry Hudson, a British explorer hired by the Dutch to find a faster route to "the Orient," followed what is now called the Hudson River as far as Albany. After realizing that the river would not go through to the Pacific Ocean, Hudson returned to the nearby bay and set up a camp, establishing the Dutch Republic claim to the area. It became a fur trading settlement by 1624, officially becoming the colony of New Amsterdam in 1626 when colonial Director-General Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from a small band of ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Gods of Gotham, try these:

  • Golden Hill jacket

    Golden Hill

    by Francis Spufford

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Winner of the 2017 Costa First Novel Award.

    The spectacular first novel from acclaimed nonfiction author Francis Spufford follows the adventures of a mysterious young man in mid-eighteenth century Manhattan, thirty years before the American Revolution, in "a first-class period entertainment" (The Guardian).

  • Ruler of the Night jacket

    Ruler of the Night

    by David Morrell

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The notorious Opium-Eater returns in the sensational climax to David Morrell's acclaimed Victorian mystery trilogy.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Killers of the Flower Moon
    Killers of the Flower Moon
    by David Grann
    Voted 2017 Best Nonfiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    The long, sorrowful list of injustices done ...
  • Book Jacket: The Dry
    The Dry
    by Jane Harper
    Voted 2017 Best Debut Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    After receiving a letter from his childhood...
  • Book Jacket: Little Fires Everywhere
    Little Fires Everywhere
    by Celeste Ng
    Voted 2017 Best Fiction by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    Small towns, big drama. Acclaimed author ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

"Electrifying . . . as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it's set."
—NPR

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Strangers in Budapest
    by Jessica Keener

    Strong characters and a riveting plot combine in this psychological thriller set in Budapest.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Autumn

Autumn by Ali Smith

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, and a Man Booker Prize Finalist

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.