Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review: Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Everyone knows the story of Persephone, right? The beautiful, innocent young daughter of Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest, was stolen away by Hades, god of the Underworld, to be his Queen. Devasted, Demeter caused such horrible famine and destruction in her search for her beloved daughter that Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone to Earth. But Persephone had eaten 6 pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, condeming her to spend six months of each year with Hades. During those six months, nature mourns her loss with winter, and when she returns to Earth each year, spring bursts into flower.

Too bad that's not quite how the story goes.

This Persephone is most definately not the helpless victim of the Fates (and Hades). Instead, she's a feisty girl who's really sick of being treated like a child. Walled into Demeter's girls-only vale, never allowed to leave, Persephone knows there has to be more out there for her than eternal childhood. Which is why, when a tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious man shows up in her secret meadow one day (with a chariot pulled by flying horses!), Persephone cannot stop herself from agreeing to meet the stranger the next day. Deciding her overprotective mother will only forbid her to see him again, Persephone keeps him a secret.

But when she discovers who the dark stranger really is, and when he asks her to come with him to the Underworld, Persephone must make a choice. Leave the Earth and all its beauty behind in exchange for an uncertain future? Or stay a child forever, trapped in her mother's vale, by rejecting Hades and his love?

I've always loved the Persephone myth, but wondered why she was so powerless. Emily Whitman has changed all that by writing a strong-willed Persephone who fights for what she wants and makes her own choices in Radiant Darkness. If you like Greek mythology, adventure, a good love story, making plants grow (turns out Persephone's got some immortal gifts too), pomegranates, and a heroine who's not afraid to take charge of her own life, this one's for you, so check it out @ the libarary!

(now reading Bloodline by Katy Moran, a great epic quest set in 7th century England, and loving it!)

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