A numbing catalog of “Gods, Goddesses, Monsters, and Mortals” from Greek and Roman mythology, condescendingly “adapted” for younger audiences from a juicier version for adults.
Spun off from Freeman’s Oh My Gods! (2012) but hardly differing in page count, Calkhoven’s methodical treatments of 60-some classical myths and legends only rephrase and tone down Freeman’s language. She leaves most of the (nearly continual) sex and violence in but describes it euphemistically or in dryly factual ways. The retellings arbitrarily blend Greek and Roman versions of names (Zeus, Hercules) and inconsistently render some in English (“Sky” rather than Uranus and “Earth” rather than Gaia, but only proper names for all of their offspring). The dozens of headed entries begin with “Creation” and, after Cronus castrates his father (or, as it’s put here, “slashed Sky’s flesh”) the war between gods and titans. Thereafter in no particular order (except that the Roman entries come last) come short accounts of individual gods and demigods mixed with topical overviews (“Goddesses,” “Heroes”), genealogical recitations and short summaries of epic tales (“Troy”) or legends (“Scaevola”). Original sources for all of these get scarcely a mention, and though many of the tales are not among the usual suspects, readers needing reminders of who Despoina, Otus, Ephialtes and dozens of less familiar figures are will get no help from the spotty annotated cast list at the end.
An opening promise of “beauty and magic and disturbing twists” goes unfulfilled in this monotonous parade of ancient names and detached barbarism. Illustrations not seen.