“I am used as the earth is used,” Demeter replied. “Pulled thin across the land and consumed. Sucked dry, bleached white. And so I have been laid thin for decades. For centuries.”

“Why didn’t you seek us out for help?” Athena asked. She saw what looked like a raged wrinkle in the skin, like an elephant’s kneecap. And then it opened, revealing a glassy, dark eye, which swiveled sickly toward her and fixed her with a sharpened pupil.

“We are not all like you, Grey Eyes,” Demeter whispered. “Goddess of battle, fighting through the millennium. Unable even now to lie down and accept your fate.”

Hermes walked to the eye and peered down at it. “We’re immortals,” he said loudly. “Why should we have to accept this?”

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“Immortal doesn’t mean forever, Messenger.”

Hermes scoffed. “We shouldn’t have even come here. She’s as useless as that old turtle from The Neverending Story. Nothing but riddles and double-talk.”

After a millenia of fading from power, significance, and human memory, the formerly glorious gods and goddesses of Olympus are mere shades of their former selves. Worse, these immortals are dying, and no one knows why. Proud goddess of wisdom and battle Athena and her brother, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods Hermes have banded together to discover the source of their suffering. Their journey, however, offers more horrific questions than answers—Athena discovers new alliances between old enemies, and the increasing threat of madness and death.

Time is running out for these gods, and Athena and Hermes’ salvation lies with a face from the past. Cassandra, once a mighty prophetess and princess of Troy before being betrayed by the gods, has been reincarnated as a teenager. It is Cassandra’s powerful gifts that hold the key to survival—but convincing Cassandra, and her immortal protector, to help will be another matter altogether.

The first in a new series from Kendare Blake, Antigoddess broaches the now-familiar ground of transplanting Greek gods and mythological figures into the present day. We see familiar gods—Athena (always my personal favorite), Hermes, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Ares and so on—as ancients masquerading as teenagers in some cases, pitted against each other for nefarious ends. There are mysteries to solve and allegiances to be made. And, while Greek mythology in contemporary YA may seem a dime a dozen, Percy Jackson-Antigoddess this most assuredly ain’t.

This is a dark book, folks. Dark in the sense that Athena is being suffocated from the inside out by owl feathers that are sprouting and crowding her internal organs, filling her lungs, which she rips out of her mouth with bloody purpose. Dark in the sense that gods like Poseidon have gone mad, calling his servants and pets only to tear their flesh from their scaly limbs and eat them alive. There is violence, there is gore, there is madness. But, it all serves a purpose to set up and define just how dire the situation is for each of these desperate immortals. Personally, I was a fan…with a few misgivings.

The largest issue with Antigoddess isn’t so much a failing of style or idea, but rather of plotting and common sense. This is very much like a first novel, with alternating points of view and disparate storylines that only eventually converge. There’s also a decided lack of characterization when it comes to the gods themselves—though I don’t necessarily count that against the book, the gods are petty and caricaturish, just as they are in legend. My biggest beef, however, is with the age of the gods and goddesses of this piece. Why teenagers? Beyond the obvious paranormal teen, mortal/immortal love-story marketing angle, I’m not convinced as to why these immortal, powerful gods would choose to appear as 17-year-old kids.

These flaws said, I thoroughly enjoyed Antigoddess and will certainly be back for more.

In Book Smugglerish, six and a half bloody owl feathers out of 10.

Want more Greek mythology/fantasy reads? Try these Book Smuggler Favorites:

1. The Fury Series (Fury, Envy, Eternity) by Elizabeth Miles

2. All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

3. Revel by Maurissa Guibord

4. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

5. The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

6. Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

7. King of Ithaca by Tracy Barrett

8. Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can also find them on Twitter.