I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. I’ve read a lot of different writing styles lately and this has to be one of my favourites. The tone is very reserved but includes rich detail and a wonderfully unhurried pace so that you feel you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
The book starts with highly exaggerated descriptions of characters, which made me wonder if this story was going to be overdone in the descriptive area, but it all makes sense when you realise the nature of the characters themselves. This is all put into perspective when the story starts following our main protagonist, Elena.
Her story starts with a description of the underdog in a work environment (which we all relate to on some level, some of us more than others I realise after accidentally tripping down the stairs to my office last week), putting on shoes she likes (described as red, so those of us who are terrified of fashion aren’t immediately put off) and still turning up late. She also loves tea religiously, so she’s already got me on side.
I love the female characters in this book. They have strong personalities and are very self aware, I especially appreciated Elena’s reserved personality. She knows her feelings about things but doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, she is respectful, intelligent and curious about the things going on around her but above all, she works hard not to make a fool of herself or appear rude to others. She gets abused a lot in this book by various Greek gods but she never falls apart or lets them see how hurt she is emotionally or physically, which is the paramount of bravery you can expect from any ordinary human without prior godly training!
The story itself is slow but deliberately and well paced, by no means lacking in action, Vanrell takes the time to smell the roses, as it were, and tell you what’s going on around Elena before introducing all of her new beasties and characters, all of which are rooted in various areas of mythology. I’m a sucker for mythology so I was in my own personal nerd heaven when the various pantheons were cracked out,then I positively squealed (it was as uncool as it sounds) when a little bit of Welsh, my internationally overlooked first language, crept into the story. This is the second time in the past month I’ve read a book which mentioned Wales!
What also struck me about this book apart from the extensive planning and research that went into the creation of this masterpiece (I know I’m gushing, but I was up reading it at 3am this morning so that has to mean something), is that is was genuinely hilarious. There was always an undercurrent of wit throughout the story but every so often I would actually laugh at loud, especially when the flame haired goddess of violendt death calls her brother a twat.
Another thing that I thought the author worked in exceptionally well was the mythology of twin gods being mentally and sexually connected. It was completely discomforting to realise that there were incestuous relationships between siblings all over the show, but that really was the case in mythology and glossing over it now rather than being honest about it would be a little disingenuous to the entire tone of the book. It was disturbing but the author is completely unapologetic about the fact- Elena is uncomfortable about it too, as any human would be, but true to form she keeps her opinions to herself which sets a good example for the creeped out reader!
The story laid some excellent groundwork for what I know is going to be an amazing series – the author tells me she’s currently 1/3 of the way through the sequel, so she’s going to have to get a wiggle on if she doesn’t want an ‘are we there yet?’ tweet every week or so until June . The book also works perfectly as a stand alone novel, with the ending leaving you wanting more but not tormenting you with a horrible cliffhanger. I’m not a fan of cliffhangers, I never did learn to trust again after the final series of Angel in my youth, despite the graphic novels.
In conclusion: Eva Vanrell, I need a sequel as soon as possible.
“he insisted, in a very grave and serious tone, that it had been the Rougarou, the werewolf of a Cajun legend that hunts down Catholics for failing to follow the rules of Lent. The laughter, of course, had been the werewolf’s reaction when he got up close and saw for himself that his prey was nothing but a rule-breaking, petite-sized heathen who wasn’t even Catholic to begin with; the Rougarou, naturally has a very discerning palate.” – The Butterfly Crest, Eva Vanrell