2 of 5 stars.
Religious fervor and fanaticism of one belief system are inexplicable to followers of other beliefs. This is especially true when the fanaticism accompanies bodily sacrifice or mutilation.
This tale is a chronicle of faux history detailing the decades-long relationship between the Church of the Holy Star and athletic success. Emerging from a period of famine and starvation, a small church finds a new purpose after the pastor’s daughter, Sasha, achieves great success in artistic gymnastics. In a religious fervor, she sacrifices herself on the church’s alter allowing the faithful to eat. From then on, St. Sasha is revered and the practice of “Champions” sacrificing themselves for other congregants to eat becomes the norm.
An offshoot plot line follows an athlete that left the fold, not wanting to kill herself. Then another follows a schism in the church when some break away to keep doing as they’ve been doing with self-sacrificing athletes and cannibalism, while the main church moves on to forcibly hunting its next “Champion” as they also more openly revere Lovecraft’s Azathoth, God That Devours Worlds . . .
This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Absolute Zero”, “Everything Dies, Baby” and “Only Unity Saves the Damned”.
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