YA/Adult crossover, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, 264 pages, Createspace
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- Why I read it: old myth new twist, Persephone, LGBTQ
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the author. Thanks!
Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth.Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want--except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice.Zeus calls Hades "lord" of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny.But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.The Dark Wife is a YA novel, a lesbian revisionist retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth.Judged by its Cover: Totally gorgeous! I'd kill to see more covers illustrated like this in YA. The red pomegranate really makes it pop, and I love both the title and author fonts.
There are a lot of Persephone retellings cropping up nowadays, aren't there? First she got a cameo in the Percy Jackson series. Then The Goddess Test (link to my review) came along with its own version of the myth, plus a Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca sort of twist. And now I hear Meg Cabot put her spin on it in Abandon (link to Goodreads), which I have yet to read, but does in fact look pretty awesome. The story of Persephone is one of my favorite Greek myths of all time. I'm pretty psyched to see it get so much play in the YA world. And I'm especially psyched to see it get the sensitive, genuinely original and affecting treatment it receives in The Dark Wife.
It's incredible how well Diemer can take a fairly familiar myth and translate it to something entirely fresh and beautiful. Would I have envisioned the original, with all its undertones of rape and misogyny, as a girl power viva la revolution lesbian story? Not in a million years. Thankfully, Diemer has more imagination than I, because the world of Olympus, the Underworld, and Persephone's childhood is lush and unlike any other I've read.
I especially admire Diemer's courage in continuing in the footsteps of Malinda Lo's fantastic Ash in trailblazing lesbian YA. If you want to read some wonderfully honest thoughts on the difficulty and necessity of this, I couldn't recommend that you follow her blog Muse Rising more highly. There is a lot to be said for craft and technical mastery; in fact, we do not have a book worth reading without it. But there is also a lot to be said for sheer gutsyness and doing something new, both qualities I have found severely lacking in YA of late, and thankfully qualities Diemer has in spades.
Yes, there were some technical problems. Yes, the story moved a little faster and more confusingly than I thought it should. Yes, I wasn't as wholly absorbed as I thought I'd be. But Diemer's writing is lovely and nuanced enough that I can't wait to pick up more of her work in the future, and this novella is short enough that you really have no excuse not to give it a try. If this were the Sundance Film Festival, The Dark Wife would be my choice for the Originality of Vision prize.
...and the Short.
Lovely, unique, and brave, it's well-worth your time despite some technical troubles.
The Final Word: Liked It!
The Dark Wife is available now!