Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she’ll have to fight for it.
Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person whom she would really rather not meet. Henry’s first wife, Persephone.
Thoughts: True to the arrangement she made with Hades/Henry in the first book of the trilogy, Kate has spent her first half-year away from the Underworld, and returns to find out that things aren’t quite as she left them. Henry is distant from her, both emotionally and physically, and Kate begins to wonder if it was really such a good idea to marry him if this is how they’re going to spend eternity together.
Oh yes, and an imprisoned Titan is being released and has a serious grudge to bear against the pantheon.
Though I might have come across there as a little sarcastic in my presentation of the book’s premise, I promise you that the romance is not the driving power behind the plot. It certainly has its place, and it’s very often on Kate’s mind, but I find that rather understandable given her situation. She can’t deny that she is in love with the god of the Underworld, whom she married and consented to rule by for eternity, and he seems to have everything on his mind but her. And that everything includes Persephone, the woman who left him for another man, and whom Henry has admitted to still loving.
It’s not an easy situation for Kate, and I think she can be excused for having her love interest on the brain. And yet, when danger threatens, she goes forward with the intention of not only saving Henry, but all of the deities she has come to know and love. her love interest is a clear and present factor, but not the only one. Carter’s got a real gift for balancing romance with action in such a way that neither side of the coin gets boring and overblown, and that makes this one of the few YA novels with a romantic theme that I can actually read and properly enjoy.
While Carter does play a little fast and loose with Greek myths sometimes (though admittedly, most of the distortion actually has fairly valid justification, in context), she does make it plain that the Greek deities are far from monogamous. Everybody has slept with everybody else, and it was quite funny to see Kate try to come to grips with that. Also, I like the way that nearly all characters (barring Calliope/Hera) seem to be sympathetic ones. Even Persephone, portrayed somewhat as a self-centered bitch sometimes, has a side that we can relate to and understand a little more, and I like that. Her unwanted marriage to Hades didn’t warp her so much as made her rather bitter, which she is still able to work through when danger looms. It’s a very humanizing effect, and I enjoyed seeing the characters develop.
The book losing something, though, in that it isn’t particularly good at foreshadowing. Kate’s angsting about Henry is, I’m sure, meant to convince the reader that he really doesn’t like or love her as much as she loves him. This fails. His motivations and actions are fairly understandable, given who he is and what position he’s in. Ava’s possible betrayal at the end of the book makes sense if you look at her actions and words leading up to that moment, and I’m not sure why the reader is led in that direction to begin with, nor why Kate believe’s Callope’s accusations. On one hand, it speaks very highly of the author for being able to develop and write characters that I can get a clear and easy grasp on, right down to their between-the-lines motivations. On the other hand, as I said, it makes for somewhat weak attempts at foreshadowing.
Overall, I’d say that this book is a refreshingly mature YA romance novel, with a creative plot and excellent characters. it’s a fine follow-up to the first novel of the trilogy, and one that I definitely plan to continue with. If you don’t mind a little bit of mythological twisting or enjoy new takes on old tales, I definitely recommend this one.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)