Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Grade: A


Persephone lives in the most gorgeous palace in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more--something dangerous and exciting--something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself.


Character Development: 7/10
Originality: 10/10
Overall Enjoyment: 7/10
Ending: 9/10
Voice: 6/10
Plot: 9/10
Setting: 10/10
Total Score: 58/70

Obtained: Bought from Recycled Books.

Age Appropriate? PG

Cussing: The (seemingly random) use of the "D" word. It was quite out of place, but oh well...
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: None.
Sexual Activity: Implied.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Child slavery.


An interesting twist on a rarely-twisted tale. This book is not what I expected. It's very Ancient Greek without being dry, very mythical without being distant or unbelievable, very accessible despite being a retelling, and surprisingly interesting. It tied in well with the original story, though at some points I felt Persephone's motivation was lacking. Or maybe that was just her being naive... It was hard to tell sometimes.

While I did genuinely like Persephone, I thought that she was a fool. The author often manipulated the character into being a spokesperson for certain themes and morals that felt incongruous and unnecessary to the plot. At times, this caused a childish "Mother Goose Effect" that occasionally made me shudder. But, aside from this small detail, the characters were very well executed, particularly Hades; his and Persephone's relationship was wrought with care, depth, and understanding. This was probably my favorite aspect of the story.

Unfortunately, I had a small issue with the writing. The narration was mostly flawless, very clean-cut and honest. It was the voice that grated on my nerves. The story would be gliding along pleasantly with the tone of a Greek storyteller and then BAM! Out of nowhere would come a random modern phrase or term that would take me out of that world altogether and leave me staring confusedly at the page.

But for those of us with a passion for Greek myth and an interest in retellings, there is no better book. Emily Whitman has created a unique version of Persephone and her story, but remains deeply respectful of the myth itself. No prior knowledge is necessary, for this book will give you a decent understanding of the Grecian way of life, an avid interest in their myths, and a love for their gods.


Emily Whitman
Persephone - The Original

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