We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files

We Will All Go Down TogetherTitle: We Will All Go Down Together
Gemma Files 
 ChiZine Publications
Publication date: October 28th 2014
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781771482011
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4/5
Buy at: BookDepository

Every family has its monsters…and some are nothing but In the woods outside Overdeere, Ontario, there are trees that speak, a village that doesn’t appear on any map, and a hill that opens wide, entrapping unwary travellers.

Music drifts up from deep underground, while dreams — and nightmares — take on solid shape, flitting through the darkness.

It’s a place most people usually know better than to go, at least locally — until tonight, when five bloodlines mired in ancient strife will finally converge once more.

Devize, Glouwer, Rusk, Druir, Roke — these are the clans who make up the notorious Five-Family Coven.

Four hundred years ago, this alliance of witches, changelings, and sorcerers sought to ruin and recreate the Earth in their own image, thwarted only by treachery that sent half of them to be burned alive.

Driven apart by rage and hatred, their descendants have continued to feud, intermarry, and breed with each other throughout the centuries, their mutual dislike becoming ever more destructively intimate.

But now, from downtown Toronto to the wilds beyond, where reality’s walls grow thin, dark forces are drawing the Coven’s last heirs to a final confrontation.

Psychics, ex-possessees, defrocked changeling priests, shamans for hire, body-stealing witches, and monster-slaying nuns — the bastard children of a thousand evil angels — all are haunted by a ghost beyond any one person’s power to exorcize unless they agree to stand together once more — at least long enough to wreak vengeance upon themselves!


So… I did not finish this book. And not because I didn’t enjoy the 200 pages I read, but because my reading license expired before I could get to the end. I’m an awfully slow reader when it comes to reading on the computer (average of 150 pages per month), and sadly that was my only option here. Having said that, I am very likely to get a copy of this book in the future, but I don’t know when that will be. And so,  I thought of sharing with you my thoughts on the first half of the book.

We Will All Go Down Together is a collection of short stories by Gemma Files that portray snippets of the lives of the descendants of five families: Devize, Glouwer, Rusk, Druir, Roke. Five families that, in the times of witch hunts in Scotland, wished to change the world. And not quite for the better. Their plans might not have worked out, but their legacy continued. And so, centuries later, these descendants find themselves in modern Toronto, living lives not devoid of the supernatural. Ghosts, shamans, witches, ex-possesses, vampires, there’s a little of everything, and none of it is sweet.

Files paints one grimly gritty picture. Her vampires don’t sparkle. Her witches don’t use wands or pointy hats. Her ex-possesses don’t get magically better post exorcism. Nightmares crawl in their world. Demons, disappearances, blood, loss of one’s soul,… anything horrible you can think of. Anything that can make your skin crawl. And you’re sure to shudder at one point or another. Files’ poetic language evokes these horrors perfectly. I have a feeling that if I were reading this book in the dark, I’d be expecting for something to breathe down my neck.

What’s more, even though the stories at first appear to be solitary and spread out over the years, little by little one begins to understand that these tales are connected, that they’re setting up something much bigger than themselves.

The multiple protagonists of the stories are also remarkably different from one another when it comes to such things as personality, jobs, even race and sexuality, which is always a good thing to see when fantasy, like most genres, is still overpopulated by cliched characters.

All in all, I wish I had reached the end of We Will All Go Down Together. Both because its format and aims are different from what I usually read, and because Files puts horror back into the supernatural, enriching it in the process. Despite having only read half the book, I am sure the rest of it is as chin dropping as what I had the pleasure of reading.


The book in a quote

“We call what we don’t understand magic, in order to explain why we can’t control it; we name whatever we find, usually after ourselves – because by naming something you come to own it.”


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