Monday, October 26, 2009

Radiant Darkness

Whitman, Emily. Radiant Darkness: A Novel. New York: Greenwillow Books-HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

"Hideous Hades ripped her away
From her mother's arms that fateful day
When all she wanted to do was stay
Safe in her mother's arms, oh!"


This is how we've all come to know Persephone: as a victim, torn away from her mother, Demeter, by the evil Hades. But that is not at all how this story really happened. Persephone, knowing that her mother would not approve, declined to tell anyone that she was leaving her home to marry her boyfriend, so her mother, of course, thinks she was kidnapped, ravaged, and now has Stockholm syndrome. It sounds like a plot line from Law and Order: SVU, right? Except that none of the parents on SVU are gods or goddesses, so their fear for their children or anger at each other doesn't almost kill everyone on the planet.

In the original Persephone myth, a lot of things happen to her. She doesn't really do anything. She doesn't even seem to have a personality. She's just Demeter's daughter and/or Hades' wife. The Persephone that Whitman introduces to us, however, is full of personality and takes control of her life both before and after she goes (note that I didn't say "is taken") to the Underworld. She's also really smitten with Hades. It's her mother's inability to let Persephone grow up and her whole "no males anywhere near anyone remotly associated with me" policy that causes problems.

Since this is a retelling of the myth of Persephone, other readers have complained that this book becomes predictable; we all (theoretically) know how the story is going to end. As I've said before, I know very little about Greek mythology, so I did not have this complaint while reading. I think even readers who already know a lot about Persephone, her mother Demeter, or Hades can still enjoy Radiant Darkness. There is enough that is different from the original myth (I looked it up after reading this book, and the author also gives a pretty good summary of the original in her note at the end) to keep readers interested, if they're the type of reader that isn't looking for suspense.

And once again, this book should be a hit with paranormal romance fans, though I would never categorize it that way.

Book source: Philly Free Library

1 comment:

Laughing Stars said...

I love Greek Mythology -- I'll be looking for this one. :-)