(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a bonafide goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.
There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Zeus’s schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?
Can she escape the grasp of her powerful dad’s minions? The Underworld is a very cool place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She’s going to fight back.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I’ve always been fascinated with the Persephone myth but never really found a great interpretation of it in YA. Usually it’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome disguised as a romance. But that’s definitely not the case with Kaitlin Bevis’ version.
Zeus is dead and all of the other gods are jockeying for his position. Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and as such is a great target for Boreas, the god of winter when he decides he wants to seize power. The only way to do that it so eliminate any potential rivals, mainly Zeus’ children. One of the things that I really liked about the whole story was the intrigue between the gods and the clear respect Kaitlin Bevis has for the original myths. Sure, she changes some things around like Hades’ personality but she really does try to portray most of them as their ‘original’ selves, not sanitized for modern sensibilities. The gods in Greek myths are total jerks. Most gods and goddesses in Kaitlin Bevis’ work are also jerks; that just makes sense. And as a relatively new goddess Persephone has a lot to catch up to in the intrigue department as everyone else has had thousands of years experience in fighting and back-stabbing.
Persephone herself really is a great character. She is understandably shocked when she learns that she and her mother are real life goddesses and she’s really, really shocked when she gets attacked by Boreas and saved by Hades. Hades, to his credit saved her without any real expectations of gratitude seeing as by saving Persephone and bringing her to the Underworld, she is technically his wife. He tries to make Persephone’s 6 month stay in the Underworld as pleasant as possible while educating her on her growing powers and the world of intrigue she’s just been awakened to. But as they spend more time together, Persephone and Hades start to tolerate, then like and then clearly love each other. Their relationship is pretty stormy in the beginning because Persephone was not too crazy about the whole “I have to spend how long in the Underworld every year?!” thing. Yet they both decide to act like mature adults and try to make the best of the situation. Hades gets people to teach Persephone about being a goddess and Persephone decides she’s tired of being a damsel in distress and asks to learn some self-defense. When they start to fall in love with each other, it’s really to Bevis’ credit that she doesn’t just skate around the enormous age gap between the two. No, she makes it a major sticking point between them and because of that it’s way less creepy than some Persephone retellings I’ve read.
I know Persephone isn’t a book for everyone because it’s not exactly fast-paced in the beginning. It starts off a little slow with a seemingly typical YA situation before taking some interesting twists and turns in order to subvert the usual school tropes. Things get exciting once Persephone is in the Underworld but then the actual action slows down as Persephone learns how to be a goddess. She goes through a lot of personal growth that’s very interesting and I really enjoyed the interpersonal conflicts between pretty much all of the characters. For me it was exciting and didn’t drag at all as there was always this undercurrent of tension, this sense of unease as spring drew closer and Boreas grew more and more desperate to kill Persephone. Some people will probably complain about the ‘slow’ plot but if you like well-written books with good character development this book is definitely for you.
Persephone ends on quite a cliffhanger and I’m very interested to see where the Daughters of Zeus series goes! The ending was satisfying because it tied up quite a few loose ends but at the same time it leaves you hungry for more. It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with Bevis’ characters and that’s in part what makes the cliffhanger so interesting. If the blurb and/or my review has intrigued you in any way or you just plain love Greek mythology, Persephone is a great book to try out.
I give this book 5/5 stars.