4 of 5 stars.
This very short tale transposes the word “god” for “dog” in the phrases dog-owner, dog training, and dog whisperer and then takes itself just seriously enough to not devolve into base parody. Jack is an inexperienced god-owner, but has adopted a rather tough breed–er, type–of god to train, a war god. Zu’ar is an ancient god of death, strife and war and he keeps escaping under the backyard fence and killing small animals throughout the neighborhood. If Jack doesn’t get his god under control, the neighbors’ll have a fit. He needs to assert his dominance or his god will rule his household.
“I already told you that you could kill whatever comes into the backyard. The inside of the fence can be your realm of terror. I don’t care. But you have to leave the front yard alone. That sounds like a fair compromise, doesn’t it?”
“Zu’ar does not compromise with mortals, Weakling. Mortals beg him for mercy.”
Jack turned. Zu’ar stood before him defiantly, with his muscular legs spread apart. He glared at Jack with bone-yellow eyes. His beard was the color of blood. He was wide, powerfully built, and just a few inches taller than a Barbie doll.
Obedience school was a no go when Zu’ar strangled a love goddess with a leash, so Jack resorts to extreme measures and hires the titular God Whisperer for in-home god training.
“Did you say he was a rescue?”
“That’s right. I got him at the humane society.”
She was in the middle of asking how much exercise Zu’ar normally got, when the tiny god stalked into the room.
“Who is this woman, Weakling? Why is she in my house?”
Doris wrinkled her nose. “Does he always bring that burning and decay scent with him?”
“Answer me, Weakling. What does this woman want?”
“That’s actually a very common sign of dominance with war gods,” Doris said. “They use it as a way to mark their territory.”
Beyond the ridiculous premise is a story familiar to anyone who has trained a pet while simultaneously been trained by their pet.
The concept and writing of this story is quite fun. It is also accompanied by an illustration by artist contest winner Alex Brock. As a quarterly short story contest winner, “The God Whisperer” merited inclusion in the anthology Writers of the Future Volume 31 by L. Ron Hubbard. I received the anthology through Net Galley.
[Check out my other reviews here.]