Playing Mortal (A Touch of Darkness – A Book Review)

A Touch of Darkness (Hades x Persephone #1)

Author: Scarlett St. Clair

Published: 2019

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated D for a young goddess unleashing the darkness within.

As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom.

Love for the god of the dead grows—

And it’s forbidden.

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring in title only. Though she’s tried any flower she’s touched has shriveled and died. Not exactly becoming of the Goddess of Spring. So, she focuses on as close to a normal life as possible. A disguised grad student in journalism, Persephone takes an internship for the greatest paper in New Olympus.

When she meets the God of the Dead, she discovers the opportunity of a lifetime. What she didn’t expect while trying to uncovers his secrets was ending up in one of his unbreakable deals. Now, challenged with growing something, anything in the Underworld, Persephone is determined to keep her freedom. What she didn’t expect was her feelings for Hades to develop and grow. Something so forbidden and tempting.

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This retelling of the Hades/Persephone mythos is definitely my favorite. The story was brought into the present and modernized in such a fantastic way. Not overdone in the slightest on either side. The powers of the gods are more prominent than ever and now they co-exist in the mortal world. Many of the gods take their power above and beyond, reminding mortals who’s boss. Others, like Persephone, and there aren’t many, prefer a low-key life. More so, Persephone dipped her toes into the god pond and it was quite the challenging adventure. The growing intensity between her and Hades had me craving like no other. I found Clair’s take and blend on this retelling exquisite. I couldn’t put it down.

Her world-build was outstanding. She didn’t compromise the world for the sake of the gods, but built on top of it. She gave so many perfect little and big details that tethered the gods and mortals together. From the god-owned clubs and businesses to their events to the realms to the simplicity of flowers, clothes, and music. Life was woven so intricately. I was continuously impressed and so quickly immersed and obsessed.

Side Note: Speaking of world-building, I’ll be damned if I didn’t get hot and bothered about Hades’s library.

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The character detail was striking and incredibly vivid. When the God’s revealed their true forms I was in total awe. Each had a gorgeous form that bordered royalty and fantastical transformation that was near fae-like. With emboldened eyes and elegant antlers and then some, the divine touches really helped differentiate them from mortals. In other mythos books that are modernized, it’s not always clear that gods are gods. The line of intimidation and divinity isn’t always clear, but here, it was bright and powerful. It had me weak in the knees, ya’ll. WEAK.

It wasn’t only the gods that stood out. I absolutely love Lexa, Persephone’s best friend. She’s so bubbly and honest. Such a likeable character I want to guard with my life. It’s great that Persephone has somebody so special in her life. Their friendship is absolutely beautiful and true. It’s one of my favorite relationships in this book.

And as if I have to say it, the combustible chemistry between Hades and Persephone. It’s why I picked up the damn book. LOL. Like gasoline on fire. And it is delicious and slow. This book took its sweet time with me, not letting up. Sure, there’s a lot of back and forth between these two, and though it’s dramatic it’s not annoying. That’s because drama isn’t all that’s between them. They push each other in such incredible ways that promote a healthy and divine development. They don’t remain stuck in their classic mythos box. I LOVE IT!!

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The Hades x Persephone tale is quite the trend lately. Not that I’m complaining. LOL. Next to Lore Olympus, this is my absolute favorite. While Persephone’s desperation to get away from her mother and her having eaten the pomegranate are popular parts to the mythos, I was glad to see other parts of the Persephone x Hades mythos. Persephone’s drive to find independence is such an inspiration and it’s incredible that while she does get herself into trouble (often), she doesn’t let it defeat her. In fact, it’s the opposite. She doesn’t get suck into the drama of failure but strives to learn and overcome it. This is a trope I love to see and it also feel rare. Typically, I just run across characters that when they feck the feck up they do one of two things. One, they complain and try to justify why they did said stupid thing or act like they did nothing wrong. Two, later on down the road, they tend to act like it never happened or just detach from it like they were never connected to said problem they created. Persephone is neither of these types. Though not easy, the woman really embraces when she fecks up and grows from it. It’s amazing. Her first screw-up is a prime example: making a deal with Hades himself.

Overall

Such an outstanding book. Really hit the core of not just that steamy and sensual spot but the emotional one that got me tethered to the characters and what their story is. This was one I took my time with. I really lingered, smelling the narcissus flowers. I haven’t been sucked in like this in years. Oh, and HBO? Can you pick this up? Thanks.

Quotables

“Life is hard out there, Hades, and sometimes living it is penance enough. Mortals need hope, not threats of punishment.” (Persephone, p. 133)

“Love is a selfish reason to bring the dead back.” (Hades, p. 138)

“You are the worst wager he’s ever made.” (Minthe to Persephone, p. 212)

“No soul has ever healed by dwelling on the past.” (Thanatos, p. 279)

More to come soon…                                                                                               

  -K.

Song Today? Call It What You Want by Taylor Swift.

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