A war between the gods is brewing. Athena is dying. Feathers grow throughout her body, choking and slowly killing her. Hermes is no longer the fleet-footed god; he is wasting away. Enter Hera. She, Poseidon, Aphrodite, and other powerful gods are banding together to kill off rivals in order to save themselves. Athena and Hermes search for allies, and answers.
The answer lies with the mortals, as it always has. But these ones in particular – Cassandra, Aidan, Henry, and Andie – are special. They have a past that has intertwined with the gods for millennia. And, in fact, Aidan has never been mortal.
This is NOT Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It is dark and twisted, and not for the faint of heart. Kendare Blake does horror like no other.
The story is written primarily from the two perspectives of Cassandra and Athena. As a god herself, Athena really sets the stage for the entire story and brings a depth to the plot that Cassandra can’t, given her mortal status. The basis for the conflict, her rivalry with Hera and Aphrodite, the years of opposition, layer together to bring this moment about. Bombs, magic, starvation, dehydration and near fatal car accidents might just be enough to weaken Hermes and herself so they can be finished off. And while all this is going on, brother Apollo is off gallivanting, trying to make up for sins committed thousands of years before.
Cassandra is a weak character in the beginning. She is psychic, she makes predictions for her classmates for profit, she is clingy and moony-eyed over her oh-so-dreamy boyfriend Aidan. She’s a bit much, at first. But when the sh*t hits the fan as she finds out who she really is, she becomes a more interesting and complex character. She remembers her disdain and anger towards Apollo and finds an incredible strength, becoming Athena’s right hand. Her history and present converge into the making of a powerful foe for Hera.
And her visions. Disturbing, violent, fascinating, and packed with gore, Blake’s imagery will not leave your brain for a very long time.
Cassandra handled the news of her true identity, and that of Aidan, with a lot less WTF! than I would have thought possible. Regaining her memory is violent and painful, but she accepts her past. And and Henry’s reactions seemed a bit more cautious and believable, but maybe the explanation actually offers some relief for Cassandra, who has lived her (current) life not understanding so many parts of herself.
I loved that the gods throughout this book were as self-absorbed and childish as always. Even after a few millennia of existence, they never seem to learn, holding onto petty grudges and jealousies forever. Add Athena and Hermes and Apollo portrayed as teens, and their selfish behaviour is even more pronounced.
While the beginning of the book is a bit slow with all the history and set-up, it picks up steam and action as the chapters progress. By the last third, the build-up to the final scene rushes through with an intensity that leaves the reader breathless. I turned the final page without even realizing I was so close to the end, and the cliff-hanger is as epic as a goddess of wisdom could demand. It is a great set-up for book 2.
While you don’t have to know the details of the Trojan War or the stories of the gods to understand this novel, knowledge certainly adds depth and enjoyment to the reading. Alone, it is a gripping tale of power and horror. With the backdrop of the history, you won’t want to put it down. This is an ancient story in a modern setting done perfectly. Blake weaves the old and new together with seemingly little effort.
The two follow-up novels in the series, Mortal Gods and Ungodly, are must-reads on my list.
Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) was published September 10th, 2013 by Tor Teen.