I was really interested in reading this book and when I won a free copy through Mira Ink couldn’t wait to start it. I love Classics and Mythology, in fact I studied Classics at school and if it wasn’t for my love of writing and literature winning out in the end would have studied Classics at university. With this mind, I was aware that some reviews pointed out that the ‘tests’ apply to the seven sins which is a Christian teaching, however I was interested to see how this would be done and was not necessarily put off by this.
This review includes some spoilers for the whole novel so please do be aware of this before reading any further.
The basic plot of this novel is that Kate Winters, an eighteen year old American, moves to her dying mother’s small hometown of Eden. While there she meets Henry one night who she later realises is Hades and who offers her the chance to prolong her mother’s life so she can actually say goodbye to her if she takes seven tests and becomes his wife.
Carter’s idea was interesting. I liked the allusions to Persephone and mythology and this could have been a really interesting novel. Unfortunately for me, this novel just did not meet my expectations or mesh well with me.
I found it unintentionally hilarious that ‘Zeus’ was in charge of the lust test. According to mythology, Zeus took the form of a swan and raped Leda, and let’s not forget the story of the rape of Ganymede, or any of the other many people he seduced/attacked in mythology. And this, this is the guy in charge of the lust test? If this was the only issue I had with the novel then I could get over it, but what I was most disturbed by was Carter’s handling of cancer. Her Mum has cancer, but then she is a god and lives after all, so was the cancer entirely fabricated? Carter attempts her way out of this tricky situation by mentioning she took a mortal form, but even with this I found the fact cancer was used as a device in order to get Kate to try Henry’s tests really, really unsanitary.
I think had Kate not fallen for Henry, or he hadn’t fallen for her, then this could have been a really interesting novel about unrequited love and duty and what you do for your family. However, when it turned into a typical romance so easily, I felt disappointed. Also I didn’t really buy into Kate’s attraction to Henry, I didn’t really know why she was so into him and how he made her feel which made it feel inauthentic.
I also wanted more from the tests and hoped they would be more exciting than there were. They felt more behind the scenes and anticlimactic by the end.
That is not to say this book was entirely negative; as I said before, the concept is interesting and felt quite original at the start. Kate was a fairly strong character and particularly in the beginning, I really rooted for her and supported her and I found Ava enjoyable to read too as she turned from frenemy to friend.
Overall, I felt this book had a lot of potential and I had high expectations for it, but sadly it personally did not work for me. I may borrow the sequel when it comes out as I did feel the idea had potential and I would like to see how it develops.