Rating – 3 stars
Ever since I was a little girl Greek mythology has fascinated me. Growing up in India, it isn’t as if there was ever a dearth of legends, stories of gods & goddesses, prophecies, and the likes. But sometimes it felt like you knew it all, though that’s not entirely possible since there is an abundance of stuff related to Indian mythology, but hey you want something new every once in a while.
And a 9-year-old certainly cannot be blamed if she wants to hear new stories or read ’em out of sheer boredom. So that’s how I got into reading about Hercules & Achilles, Poseidon and Medusa. Of course it doesn’t hurt that some of the most famous stories have Greek origins like that of King Midas, Icarus and of course Helen of Troy.
So when I learned that Kendare Blake is writing a new series which finds its inspiration in Greek Mythology, I was overjoyed. I loved Anna Dressed in Blood, though I cannot say the same about its successor Girl of Nightmares. Nonetheless I was curious enough to give this one a shot purely because I like the way Blake writes, even if I may not exactly like the way things take shape in the end.
Antigoddess, the first book in Blake’ new series Goddess War to describe in a word is lukewarm, it’s not as brilliant as ADIB was nor as terrible as I found GON to be.
Blake has centered her novel around Cassandra of Troy, a doomed figure, gifted as well as cursed by the god of sun and prophecy, Apollo. Cassandra is bestowed the ability to prophesize, though she has no control over her visions. As in, she cannot will them – she just sees things, they could be happening at the same time to someone somewhere or she could be having a look into the future. When Apollo gifted Cassandra, with the power of prophecy, he had perhaps ulterior motives in his mind, but they never materialised. And what could be a bigger curse for a seer, a prophet, than to watch things happen, know perhaps a way to prevent them and yet be helpless. Hence Cassandra was cursed by Apollo, that while she would see things happen accurately, she would never be believed. And so the poor girl tried in vain to avert a war, stop her brother from being killed, but failed and was killed at the age of 19, as a captive slave.
In modern day world Cassandra is reborn as Cassandra Weaver, an ordinary girl living in the town of Kincade, with her parents and brother, Henry. She is dating Aidan, a fellow student and is best friends with Andie. Unknown to her Cassandra, is the key element of an upcoming war – a war between gods. Gods who are dying and will stop at nothing to prevent their end as each is suffering and decaying in a different manner.
As the book opens, we meet an exhausted,tattooed Athena who has dyed her hair with streaks of purple and is sprouting feathers, literally. Owl feathers to be precise, which seemed fitting and ironical since, owls serve her. She is accompanied by a thinning, weakening Hermes on the road, as they try to find Demeter – their aunt, the earth goddess. Though they do locate her she isn’t exactly helpful, her riddle serves them a bit but isn’t much of a help which shouldn’t be surprising, considering Demeter is in mourning for her daughter Persephone, one of the first gods to fall prey to the twilight that has befallen them and wishes to join her.
Her guidance leads Athena and Hermes on a journey, which leads them to face dangers posed in front of them by the trio of Poseidon, Aphrodite & Hera, who are also in search of Cassandra. Also they meet the reincarnation of Odysseus, Athena’ favorite hero. And since this is a YA novel, Athena and Odysseus have sparks flying left, right and center here.
There’ trouble in paradise for Cassandra and Aidan when after regaining the memories of her past life. You see, Apollo has been posing as Aidan all along in front of Cassie and her family. When the revelation initially takes place the trio of Cassie, Henry & Andie are a bit shaken and shocked – to say the least – it doesn’t cause any major issues. However recollecting her previous life does cause a minor upheaval in their love life. Also Cassandra learns, her brother was Hector & and best friend Andie, Andromache – his wife in their previous life.
The book ends on quite a cliffhanger, and a few of the major characters die.
The summary of the book is pretty fantastic, and so is the entire concept. I really liked how Blake has imagined the whole scenario, especially conceptualized the death of each god or goddess in a manner that is befitting their personality, but somehow the book didn’t have me nearly as excited as I was with ADIB. While the characters are well written, somehow I feel Cassandra is too weak a heroine. Yes somehow she is tied up with the gods and is important in the bigger picture, she simply seemed lacking something that would make me want to root for her or really like her.
Athena on the other hand is all over the book and quite a badass. What made me like her is the way she is written, she is a goddess – and not just any goddess, the goddess of wisdom & war, however there is somehow something humane about her. She has lived for a very long time and though she is fond of the era when gods were worshipped and she was looked upon as the favorite daughter of Zeus, she has blended in the human world quite naturally as well. Yes there is that pride and anger, but she also has the grace to admit to some of the things which she regrets doing, even if it happened thousands of years ago. There is a quiet dignity within her. She is fighting for her life, for herself and those with her – as is expected of the goddess of war, and yet there is a part of her that yearns to be human. To know love, to feel passion. She is by far the strongest character of the book and the one I liked the most. Hermes comes second to her, the god of transitions and boundaries – mostly remembered for being the patron of thieves and travelers.
This was a book I was quite excited about, though I am not as pleased with it as I hoped I would be, nonetheless its quite a welcome relief from all the books about forbidden love, insta love or the likes which I utterly despise.
Could be read once for sure.