The Goddess Test
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harlequin; Original edition (April 19, 2011)
Source: e-galley from NetGalley
**** Spoiler alert ****
Kate Winters has spent the last four years of her life taking care of her sick mother. Now, her mother has decided she wants to return to her home of Eden, Michigan for one last time before she dies. Kate isn’t thrilled with the idea of moving from New York City to a small town in the middle of rural Michigan, but she would do anything to make her mother happy. As soon as they arrive, however, things get complicated. Kate has to start her senior year over as a new student, to make matters worse, she clumsily bumps into the super jock boyfriend of Ava—the school’s most popular girl and cheerleading captain. Needless to say, it is not an instant friendship. Ava is not thrilled with Kate’s presence (and the attention she seems to be drawing from their school mates), but she shouldn’t worry. Kate is not interested in anything or anyone, except taking care of her mother.
When Ava invites Kate to a bonfire in the woods, she reluctantly agrees to join her. Once they arrive at the party, however, Kate realizes that it was a set up. Ava brought her to the woods—alone—to torment her. When Ava dives headfirst into the river, Kate is left standing on the bank fuming with anger. She is stranded in the woods at night with no way home. Pulled from the middle of her thoughts, Kate realizes Ava has been knocked unconscious… or so she thinks. Faced with the choice to face her terrifying fear of water in order to save Ava or to let her drown, Kate finds herself rushing into the freezing water and pulling Ava to safety. Only, Ava isn’t unconscious. She is dead.
Desperate to save Ava, Kate hastily makes a deal with the mysterious (and gorgeous) Henry. In return for saving Ava, he requires Kate to live with him during the winter. At first she refuses, but she eventually finds herself living at the elaborate Eden Manor. Thinking that Henry is a complete lunatic (he claims to be the god of the dead, after all), she plays along with her role in the deal. While living at the Manor, Kate has to face several tests that will determine if she is worthy of becoming the queen of the dead and an immortal. If she fails, she returns to her previous life with no memory of her stay at the Manor, and Henry dies.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this book is a modern retelling of the story of Persephone. I just adore Greek mythology (ok, all mythology) and this book did not disappoint me. Too often I find retellings strained and disappointingly unoriginal. However, this book was great. The plot had plenty of similarities to the myth that we all know, which satisfied me. But it also added several original elements that I think enhanced the storyline. I loved that Kate was a strong-willed, kick butt female type. I also thought showing Henry as a compassionate and caring form of Hades was a nice touch. The characters were so well developed that I found myself tearing up a few times during the touchy mother-daughter scenes between Kate and her mother. At the same time, I found myself so completely irritated with some of the characters that I felt like I could strangle them with my bare hands if they magically manifested in my presence. It takes a very talented writer to take a reader through such a broad spectrum of emotions in one novel.
As far as the plot is concerned, it is certainly a quick, easy read. I found it hard to put down. There were several twists in the story that I didn’t expect. I had my suspicions at times, but the story kept me guessing until the end. I did figure out the role of James long before Henry confirmed it, but that’s ok. There was a pretty heavy hint that made it pretty hard to ignore. I mean, Henry said, “You’ll see.” You had to know something was coming.
I’m disappointed that this book doesn’t hit the shelves until April of this year. That means I have to wait until 2012 to read the next book! I love how the story ends at the perfect place for a continuation. The dynamics between the characters is so well thought out that there seems to be an endless possibility for what might happen. I am anxious to see how Kate and Henry fare during the following winter, and to see if the friendship between James and Kate recovers. I would certainly recommend reading this book if you like mythology retellings. I read an e-galley from NetGalley, but I’ve already pre-ordered my paper copy for the bookshelf. This book is worth having in paper form.