Book Reviews Tell Me What to Read Young Adult Books

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

7 of 10: Not my all-time favorite retelling, but Radiant Darkness is a pretty solid one nonetheless.

This book was the pick for Round 2 of Tell Me What to Read and was suggested by the lovely ladies at Bookworm Nation, a blog I had never heard of before last month but now absolutely adore. Just another fringe benefit of Tell Me What to Read.

This book is a retelling of the Greek myth about Persephone; I had heard the myth before, but I didn’t brush up on it before I read the book, so it was fun to watch it unfold without knowing precisely how things were going to play out.

Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of fertility and grain. Demeter apparently distrusts men and keeps Persephone under pretty tight watch, giving her little room to do anything on her own. This makes Persephone crazy, of course, as she’s sure she is old enough to make her own decisions and take care of herself. Her mother, to no reader’s surprise, does not agree.

And then, Hades appears in Persephone’s gardens, declares his love for her, and asks her to become his queen in the Underworld, even though it means leaving behind her mother and friends and everything she knows.

In the original myth, Hades kidnaps Persephone, holding her captive until Demeter works with Zeus to convince Hades to give her up for at least part of each year (when Persephone returns to the world, that’s when spring and summer come again).

In this version, Persephone goes with him willingly, which I thought made the story a lot more fun and added a lot of depth to her difficulty in deciding what to do and how to choose between her loving husband and her demanding, but devoted mother.

The one thing that kind of held the story back for me was that there was never really any reason that Persephone loved Hades. The author told you she did, and thus you were just supposed to go along with it. I wish that had been better addressed.

Other than that, though, it’s a fun story, and I’m unlikely to forget this Greek myth any time soon.

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  • Reply Packrat August 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Sounds like you have found time to read some. My son (and his group/clique) had a friend named Persephone. I can't imagine pinning that name on a beautiful baby girl.

  • Reply Kath August 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    I'm so glad you liked it! I agree, I wish there would have been a little more between Hades and Persephone, maybe a little more courting or something. I still loved it though! =)

  • Reply Angiegirl August 27, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    This is one of my very favorite Greek myths (been a Greek mythology geek for a long time now). I've been looking forward to this retelling. Thanks for the review.

  • Reply Alison Stewart August 28, 2009 at 2:57 am

    I'm supposed to be reading it….it is in my "currently reading" file….Kindle is dead (forgot charger chord-that stinks)…traveling….maybe they will have this at the airport (doubt it…but maybe).

  • Reply Amy Sorensen August 28, 2009 at 4:36 am

    The Persephone myth is my favorite Greek myth. But I'm afraid to read this one, even with your good review, because of how I have Persephone/Hades pictured in my head.

    You should read the poem "Bavarian Gentians" by D. H. Lawrence. It's about Persephone, too. "Persephone herself is but a voice/
    or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark." One of my favorite poems!

  • Reply Cathryn and Alex August 30, 2009 at 2:45 am

    Janssen! Your apartment looks so cute! I wish that I could see you every morning that I did in London-Oh what I took for granted! 🙂 I am counting down the days until Catching Fire comes on know you have already read it-but I refused to even read your summary just so that I can have no expectations going into the book. I'm so excited. Hope you guys are happy!

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