I have had a soft spot for the goddess Persephone ever since I was assigned to reenact her story in my freshman year English class in high school (picture mop puppets-ghastly, but fun!). This is one of the many reasons I was excited to find out about Aimee Carter’s debut YA novel, The Goddess Test, a modern retelling of the story of Persephone (sort of). How lucky of me that I got an e-galley from the publisher!
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Harlequin Teen, April 2011
Eighteen-year-old Kate Winters has been caring for her sick mother for more than four years. Mom’s final request is to spend her remaining days in her hometown, Eden, Michigan. Kate doesn’t really want to leave New York, but she will do anything for her mother. Kate struggles with the idea of her mother’s imminent death and the fact that she will be all alone in the world once her mom is gone. She has no other family and just a few new friends in Eden. If things weren’t hard enough, Kate’s already complicated life becomes even more problematic when she meets Henry. Henry is dark and mysterious and seems to appear at the most unusual times. He also claims to be Hades, the god of the Underworld who has the power to grant her heart’s one true desire-to have more time with her mother. Kate is reluctant to believe him, but the more she gets to know Henry, the harder it is not to believe.
First of all, this book is not about Persephone. She’s mentioned, and the story of her marriage to Hades is discussed, but the focus is more on Hades and how he has been misrepresented throughout history. Here I am walking around thinking the worst of Hades, when really (according to Aimee Carter) he’s a decent guy! Who knew? Pair this dark and tormented man with the fiercely loyal but innocent Kate and you have a sweet and suspenseful romance. While the book has a few flaws, the biggest of which is the fact that there is A LOT going on in this one small book, The Goddess Test is an admirable debut work. Readers interested in an “accurate” retelling many not enjoy this book, but fans of paranormal romances will certainly want to look for this one.
Those interested in other mythology books may like Oh. My. Gods by Tera Lynn Childs, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. For another retelling of the Hades and Persephone story try Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman. For fans of modern fairy tails or retellings try Beastly or A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, or Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde
Now, before I finish I have a confession and a word of warning. Confession: I read the last page. I almost always glance at the last page before I read a book. I have heard all the arguments against this practice, so just content yourself with shaking your head in disapproval. Trust me, I have learned my lesson. What I saw on the last page almost ruined the book for me. Just trust me on this one. Don’t peek. I would make you pinky swear on it if you were here!
The Goddess Test is on order, put a hold on it today and stay tuned for the sequel, Goddess Interrupted, due out in January 2012.