Captive in the Underworld, Persephone tries her best to resist the wonders of this mystical realm and the allure of its ruler. However, this is much easier said than done when the Underworld offers her freedoms she has never experienced, and Hades offers her pleasure the likes of which she has never known…
Meanwhile, in the land of the living, Demeter’s search for her daughter culminates in a devastating discovery that causes her to unleash her wrath on an unsuspecting world…
Again I have to praise M.M Kin for the sheer amount of research that went into writing these books. She has taken the time to make the setting as authentic as possible. I loved being introduced to all the Chthonic deities in the Underworld, including the ones that I found too ambiguous to include, like Styx who is a river and a goddess. The primordial deities are complicated, but Kin included them with so much skill I never found myself going, “Wait, but how would that work?”
I also like how, for the most part, modern speech was included in a way that felt natural. When setting a book SO deep in the past, it’s a real challenge to decide how you want the characters to talk. Especially since they shouldn’t even be speaking English, so there’s not a model for how they should sound. Thee’s and Thous would be just as inaccurate as likes and whatevers. So there’s this super delicate like between the characters language being modern enough to be accessable, yet formal enough not to take you right out of the story. For the most part, Kin handled this beautifully, and throughout the ENTIRE book, she handled it better than I could. She handled it so well that when that line slipped a bit too far to the modern side in the middle of the book, I noticed it way more than I would have had the language not been built in to the world with so much skill. There was a minute there, maybe 2-3 chapters, where every character was suddenly cussing like a sailor and the entire cadence of the dialogue shifted to completely modern speach. The situation warranted it, they were all pretty pissed at Zeus, but I found it a bit jarring. But it only lasted for a second and then we were right back in the middle of the balance.
I loved the character development. All of the characters are fully fleshed out and three dimensional, though I don’t like most of the characters. That’s not a knock on the author, she made them authentically flawed. Zeus is a professional victim who ducks responsibility at every turn. I love how he’s so confused that Demeter won’t stop with the whole famine thing until he steps up and returns Persephone. He keeps trying to explain to everyone that will listen that he didn’t have a choice and oh, but Hades is scary and he doesn’t want to upset him, and not a single deity is buying it. Demeter keeps getting told she’s being irrational, hurting the humans for something a god did, but I’m completely in line with her way of thought. Zeus had ample opportunity to fix everything. She warned him, and she’s also not actively killing the crops, she’s just withdrawing her blessing from the land…which actively kills the crops. But why would she bless the land so Zeus and team can benefit from human worship? It sucks people are dying but those deaths are on Zeus’ head as far as I’m concerned.
Other than that place, where I’m completely on her team, this book made me realize Demeter is downright abusive to Persephone. Way over controlling, manipulative, and emotionally and verbally abusive. She reminds me a bit of Gothel from Rapunzel. But that behavior seems par for the course in this world because Hades is the exact same. I have a lot of issues with Hades. At the end of the day, no matter how I try to spin his character he’s a manipulative jerk who lies, misleads, kidnaps, and doesn’t pay much attention to the word no but is so proud and smug he points to the few things he did do right as proof he’s not a bad guy. Sorry, Hades. You don’t get kudos for NOT hitting, beating, or raping someone. If I heard him point out “yeah, I kidnapped her, but I’m not mistreating her,” one more time….grr. If it wasn’t for the fact that Persephone is just as frustrated with that attitude as I am, I would have thrown the book down awhile ago. But she is, and in that you can see how talented M.M Kin is. The reader isn’t supposed to side with Hades, we’re supposed to see the flaws in his logic, HADES just can’t see the flaws in his logic. When she writes any of the gods POV she is SO deep in their POV that you see exactly how they convince themselves they are not in the wrong here and that is so realistically done. Persephone’s pov is like the normal, every day person as she looks around at the pantheon, and that perspective alone makes her a likable character, but she’s also strong and smart and likable completely on her own merits.
I’m really curious how book three is going to go, because I really want to see Persephone put everyone in their place.