Oooh do I love me a good myth retelling! I've always enjoyed reading Greek Myths, having taken a class in high school on the subject and becoming hooked on all things mythological. That led me to loving the Percy Jackson novels and anything else that includes a story about a Greek God or Goddess.
Well, Radiant Darkness, written by first-time-author Emily Whitman, is a fabulous retelling (from a whole new angle) of Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld. In it, we meet young Persephone, daughter of the Goddess Demeter, who feels trapped under her mother's thumb. Demeter doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to her daughter, believing that Persephone can take care of herself and doesn't need her mother around for anything. Oh and Demeter has quite the ego.
Persephone, sick of being told what to do, where to go, and who to be friends with goes completely against everything she's been taught when she meets a handsome man in a meadow. Who happens to be Hades, God of the Underworld. And when he asks her to go with him and be his Queen? She says yes.
What follows is the experiences Persephone has in the world of Darkness, with a God of Death, having left her mother and the world of light behind.
I loved the telling of this myth, I felt it was beautifully written, a quick-read, and an awesome new take on a very old story. I also really enjoyed how Hades was written...not as this cruel man that enjoys killing people off, but as a God that has accepted his world and what he is supposed to do in it. Yes, he's the ruler of Death, but he comes off as a pretty decent guy.
The cover is another wonderful aspect, absolutely beautiful and the descriptions are amazing. I was also impressed with the lack of sexuality in the story. So many books and movies focus on Gods being sex-hungry and I was a little concerned that this would end up being too mature for a YA audience and though there are one or two references to sex, but they were incredibly subtle. Appropriate for young adults and even some upper middle graders.
A great book for libraries!
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.