Friday, August 13, 2010

RADIANT DARKNESS by Emily Whitman [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch:  In this retelling of "The Rape of Persephone,"  Emily Whitman imagines what it would be like if Persephone had really gone willingly with Hades to the underworld.  Classic myth states that the ground cracked open and Hades stole Persephone from her mother, Demeter.  In RADIANT DARKNESS, Hades and Persephone fall in love and Persephone goes willingly with him to the Underworld.  I don't want to ruin it for you, but those of you who know the classic myth will be able to fill-in the blanks from what I have told you.

Verdict:  I had to wonder why it took me so long to read this book!  If it's in your pile, move it up.  You may anticipate a difficult read, but it is not.  Whitman does a great job of making her characters, mostly Greek gods, sound like normal people without the heft of language that often accompanies characters from ancient realms.  She weaves bits of humor and romance into her story at just the right places, compelling you to keep reading.  While I would have liked to have seen a little bit more character development for Hades, the plot did an adequate job of filling in his holes.  My favorite part of the experience was that because of a couple of carefully placed scenes and elements, Whitman's version is just as plausible as the classic myth, with characters a lot more down-to-earth and relatable than in other, similar works. Steel yourself for death, destruction, and the many faces of love in this coming-of-age retelling you're sure to devour.

Location: mainly The Underworld
Main Character: Persephone
Favorite Character: I hem and haw around this.  The obvious choice is Persephone.  But I kinda adore Hades.  You never seem him depicted like this, never.  I really enjoyed him and honestly? I kinda crush on him a little.  (never thought those words'd come outta my head)
Would Change: Like I mentioned above, I would have liked to have seen a little more development for Hades, but I was satisfied with what I got.
Favorite Line: "If you love me," he whispers, "if you truly want to return to my side, and only then, eat." p. 219, hardcover
Good for Monster? I actually think that Monster would like RD.  If he didn't have such a huge line-up of fantasy to read, I'd probably make him read it.  Your guys'll like it if they're into the Greek myths at all.
People Who Will Like This:  educators, mothers, daughters, romantics, those with a degree in Classical Studies, people who like to see things from different perspectives.
People Who Won't Like This: people who don't like retellings,  purists, Zeus
Chapters: 50, and they're really pretty short, which makes this a great book to take with you places you'll have down time.  I read a lot of it in between rounds of a sporting event.
Author's Website:
Acquire It:  Amazon       Book Depository       Changing Hands

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publish Date: April 28, 2009
ISBN-10: 0061724491

Note:  Though this book stands alone and is not part of a series, I thought I'd let you know that Emily's next book, Wildwing, is coming September 21st.  Based on her writing style in RD, I'm eager to read Wildwing!


Catherine (On The Nightstand) said...

Hades and Persephone are my two fave characters in myth (seriously bugs me when he's automatically portrayed as evil and a jerk just because he rules the afterlife :/) but... I haven't read this. It's so weird. Hardback prices, heh. But I'll probably have to just save up for the hardback as the paperback cover is just... ugh. Yet another YA paranormal romance cover (see: - eyes and above cut off, random tint and vaguely-out-of-focus, and random object floating in front of the character.

I really do want to read this though, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Diana Dang said...

Loved this novel. :D

Vampires and Tofu said...

How did I not realize this was about Persephone? That's one of my favorite myths of all time so....ya, moving this one up the list =)