Who doesn’t love Greek mythology? Really, it is one of my favorite topics to read about, and I’ve always been obsessed with the legends of the gods. That obsession lead me to A Touch of Darkness, which explores the legend of Hades and Persephone in a modern setting. There are many different variations to the original story, but the gist of it is that Hades (the God of the Underworld) saw Persephone (the Goddess of Spring) and instantly fell in love with her. He then kidnapped her and forced her to marry him to become Queen of the Underworld. She became very unhappy in the Underworld, so Hades allowed her to return to the surface for a portion of the year.
Such a fun tale, with all the dramatics and flair of a true Greek myth. I find it interesting when people retell ancient myths, because it’s so fascinating to see how they spin a well known tale into their own version. Kinda like the ultimate fanfiction. In Scarlett St. Clair’s story, Persephone has been hidden for the majority of her life by her controlling mother, Demeter. She’s never known true freedom, and she has had to borrow her mother’s magic, as every plant she touches dies. Her mother let her attend university at New Athens, where she is studying journalism. Right before she graduates, she comes across Hades at one of his gambling clubs, and accidentally loses a bet to him; he then gives her six months to create life in the Underworld or else she will be forced to live there for all eternity. Big problem for a girl whose touch brings death, not life. As she spends more time in the Underworld, she discovers that there is more to the dark, mysterious god of death than meets the eye, and in turn, he helps her discover her confidence and a path towards her own destiny.
As far as characters go, Persephone felt like a very typical heroine, who doesn’t quite believe in herself and has a lot to learn. She was okay as a main character… a bit boring, a bit melodramatic, and not quite as deep as I would have liked to read. Hades was… also everything you’d think he would be. Tall, dark, and handsome… which is normally my favorite trope but he fell flat for me as well. It wasn’t like I found them to be bad characters… but they just felt superficial to me. Every bit of conflict seemed very predictable, and that predictability had nothing to do with the fact that I already knew the outcome of the tale. Girl lacks confidence, wants adventure. Girl meets dark “bad guy”, determined to find fault with “bad guy” but continues to be surprised against her own judgement when he disproves everything she’s ever thought about him. They fall in love. Girl discovers “bad guy” might have fallen for her to get out his own bet. “Bad guy” says no, that isn’t true. Girl blows everything wayyyyy out of proportion and refuses to listen to him. Girl runs away, crying and heartbroken from nonexistent betrayal. Girl realizes she is sad, magically starts believing him again, and says I forgive you… even though she made up his betrayal. Sound familiar?
I would have liked to see more conflict and action from the characters outside of Persephone’s own foreseeable thoughts… but alas, romance. Speaking of romance… oooof. This was quite the steamy read, so if that is your cup of tea, you should be satisfied with this book. Personally, I need a love interest, but I’m more into the *tension* than mesmerizing graphic descriptions. Tension plus excellent world building plus love built into that world is what truly gives me butterflies. Give me a good enemies to lovers build up over several books… don’t give it to me halfway through the book and then every single scene from that point on is a sex scene between the main characters. BUT as I’ve said before, this is just my personal take on romance; if that is what you love, I harbor no judgement against you! To each their own, and A Touch of Darkness is hot AF, mindless read full of guilty pleasure.
This Hades and Persephone retelling is a delightfully fast read, and even though I thought the characters were a tad boring, I am still excited to continue on with the story. I’m not scrambling to get the next one in my hands, but I will look forward to reading it on a rainy day. In fact, my favorite part of the book was searching the pages for the names of each of the characters. For example, the story of Minthe is familiar to those invested in Greek mythology, so every time she entered a scene I was curious how her original legend would play out in this version. I felt the same about Adonis, or even Tantalus. It’s why I love retellings, because you never quite know where the author will take a well known myth, and turn it into something uniquely their own. Stay tuned for an eventual update when I start the next book!