Every girl who had taken the test has died.
Now it’s Kate’s turn.
It’s always been just Kate and her mom – and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld – and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he’s crazy – until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.
If she fails…
As an assignment in Grad school, I had to create a Reader’s Advisory for a topic of my choice. I chose Greek Mythology, and this was one of hte titles I included on the list. And while this book was okay overall, I had some pretty significant quibbles with aspects of it; I’m going to focus more on those with this post than anything else, so if you don’t want to read about sort of negative thoughts, you can skip the rest of this. NOTE: Significant spoilers follow!
First, here’s the book’s synopsis: Kate, who you realize early on is the daughter of a Greek goddess, has been chosen as a potential wife for Hades, now called Henry, because Henry can’t handle running the Underworld on his own and needs help, and also wants a replacement for Persephone, who fell in love with a mortal. Henry – because he loved her – gave her her freedom, she gave up her immortality, and Henry (and the other gods/goddesses) have been trying to find a replacement for the last 100 years. Kate is the last potential girl; the previous eleven have all died while trying to complete the seven tests – The Goddess Tests – and Henry, not wanting to risk anyone else’s life, has decided that Kate will be the final one to attempt the tests (and even then has to be talked into it by Kate’s mom – Henry’s “favorite sister”).
So there’s your premise. And I don’t have a problem with it – it was actually unique, and I liked her Henry/Hades a lot, especially because she wrote him as a really lonely and rather tragic soul who’s in love with a Persephone who never really existed, who is ready to give up because he just doesn’t believe that he can ever find a replacement. (He is the epitome of the “tall, dark and brooding” character.) Not that he doesn’t think he could ever love another – that’s part of the inner monologue of Kate’s, that she won’t ever be able to replace Persephone, and she’s afraid that Henry will never actually love her – but because the deaths of the previous eleven girls have basically robbed him of any hope of finding someone else.
The characters surrounding Kate, even before she meets Henry, are all gods/goddesses, even though you don’t realize it at first. I figured out who Ava was pretty quickly, because she was over-the-top obvious with her constant flitting between boyfriends. Ella, too, is perfect; she’s over-protective of her twin (so that tells you who he is as well), and makes Kate dress in these old-fashioned 18th century gowns with corsets, because of course Artemis wouldn’t like the modern fashions in the slightest. You also get massive hints regarding whom Kate’s mother is.
My biggest issue was the character of Calliope. See, Calliope is Hera, who is the goddess of marriage. However – and here’s a major, gigantic spoiler, so if you’re going to read this book do not read what follows! – it turns out that Calliope is the one who’s been killing off the previous eleven girls because she’s in love with Henry and wants him for herself. WTF?! She is the GODDESS OF MARRIAGE. She does NOT have affairs, or fall in love with other people! She is like the ONE goddess who DOESN’T have affairs (okay, I exaggerate, because Hestia, Artemis and Athena are all maiden goddesses, so they obviously don’t have affairs either), and that’s the character that she chose to be in love with Henry? This just ANNOYED ME SO MUCH, OMG. Also, Kate’s seven tests are the seven deadly sins, which are a Catholic invention and of all people the gods have no right to judge anyone on any of them, seeing as they are the most lustful and over-indulgent beings on the planet. Zeus actually says to Kate at the end, “The one thing we cannot abide is lust,” which was so LOLtastic coming from him that I literally LOLed for like several minutes.
Ahem. Also, I had trouble reconciling my opinions of what the gods/goddesses are like with her versions of them. I know this has a lot to do with how Rick Riordan’s written them in the Percy Jackson books, but a lot of it also comes from Mythology itself, which I don’t feel she was terribly faithful to.
Anyway, it was an okay book, but was definitely not as good as I was wanting it to be. I don’t even know if I’m going to bother reading the second one, which comes out next year, because there were just so many things that bugged me. But maybe it will be different, since – SPOILER! – Kate does manage to pass the tests and become Henry’s wife, and the second book is supposed to be about their life once she returns from her spring and summer away (a la Persephone) back to the Underworld. So maybe I’ll give it a read at some point, and I might even enjoy it more because my expectations won’t be so high.