Book review – ‘God of Wine’ by Elizabeth Zahzam

Rating: 5/5 stars

When Dionysus, god of theatre and wine, manipulates the lives of two struggling performers, the results are as dramatic as theatre itself.

Struggling to overcome his history as a drunk, Broadway star Taylor O’Neal lives a guarded life and seeks escape from the man who made him a star. His benefactor and former enabler, Dionysus, has another script in mind for Taylor–not a drama for the stage, but one to be played out in Taylor’s life.
During a summer blackout, Dionysus meets Kristen, and finds her ideal for a role that will rock Taylor’s marriage and tear at his precarious sobriety. When he orchestrates a meeting, Kristen falls in love with Taylor as he hoped.
Dionysus concocts a series of wicked scenes while Taylor and Kristen move toward one another and into his trap. But how far do the powers of the god of wine extend? Do either of them have any hope of breaking free before their inevitable climax leads to tragedy?
God of Wine, set under the bright lights of Broadway, is an allegorical tale of a potent but deadly ménage a trois:
As Taylor passed the bar, the colored bottles glimmered like jewels. Thirst, from his core, raged so strong he feared for his life. At the door, he sensed Dionysus scrutinizing him. For a second, feeling the tightening of the cord connecting them, Taylor feared he was still Dionysus’ puppet, pulling to break free.
He grappled with what he knew were black desires, and yet they rose like beacons of light. Past and new sensations. The bottles, yes. They called, offering a reprieve from his anxiety. A meeting with Dionysus triggered temptation, but tonight went beyond the flashbacks he expected. The girl, Kristen, complicated everything.


Anyone who knows me will have no trouble in realizing what attracted me to this book. Anything from mythology tends to catch my interest and a novel exploring the duel nature (multiple natures) of Dionysus seemed right up my street. I certainly didn’t pick this book by its cover which, despite being based on a good idea, looks rather unattractive and, no matter what the old adage says, might have put me off reading the novel… yep, I’m pretty fickle! The book itself, the important bit, was quite wonderful. I enjoyed almost every aspect of the novel and I could see this becoming one of my favourite books, assuming it stands up to the test of time!
The story follows several actors as their lives are woven together and torn apart by the enigmatic Dionysus. The characters are not always likable, not always possible to relate to but they are always interesting and engaging. They fit perfectly within the plot.
The only part of the novel I struggled with was the fact it’s split into two main halves. I’m not good with books that do this and I tend to drift away. ‘God of Wine’ had much the same effect on me but, to be fair, I feel that this is more because of my personal preferences as opposed to any failings within the book. In fact, I appreciated the idea of splitting the novel into Acts, Scenes etc. It was an extension of the metaphors of theatre and life that run throughout the plotline and this worked really well.
As for the writing style itself, I found it to be beautiful. It’s quite flowery and embellished but elegant. It seems to give the story a certain spiritual weight away from the modern setting. There are also some rather profound moments regarding human nature and life in general.
I think that was why I enjoyed this novel so much. It’s a study of human nature, of life in general. I feel that the plot could be interpreted in so many different ways and has many different nuances that I look forward to exploring when I read the book again. Add to this the fact that it’s beautifully written and what’s not to like?

You can buy the kindle edition of this book here… it’s well worth the money!


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