published: 27th November 2018
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.
To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
Galley provided by publisher
To be honest, I think the hype for this book actually killed it for me. If it hadn’t been so hyped and I came to it with no expectations, I’d have probably liked it more than I did. Because the writing is pretty good, the characters were alright, and there’s a good romance. But it was hyped, and so I’m disappointed in how it turned out.
– The relationship between Atalanta and Kahina was well-developed and nicely slowburning. They start off disliking each other – or rather Kahina dislikes Atalanta for reasons she can’t actually explain to her, and Atalanta dislikes her in response to that – and then come together to work against the suitors later on. You might say that they start liking each other fairly abruptly, but besides that the development was realistic.
– The writing wasn’t awful. OK, I’m definitely framing that in a negative way but I mean like. It was alright. Not much more, not much less. Readable, but nothing special.
– The characters were good – maybe not very nuanced – but they were good characters. I just didn’t really like any of them particularly, which was unfortunate. I think if I’d liked them, things would have gone better for me.
– Just to clarify, I don’t mean bad bad, but more like these-are-the-things-I-didn’t-like bad.
– It just felt like your generic superpowered fantasy (albeit with an f/f relationship), where the characters happened to have names from Greek myths, and not actually a Greek myth retelling. I know, in the author’s note, it said that she did research and took certain historical and mythological licences when writing it, but it doesn’t even feel like it’s actually set in Ancient Greece. Part of that was because of the language used (“insane”, “lieutenant” are the examples that stick out), and the descriptions of their clothing (calling what Ancient Greeks wore a “dress” doesn’t help in making it seem believable). Overall, though, besides the names for things, there didn’t feel like that much effort in worldbuilding. I couldn’t help comparing it (unfavourably) to Madeline Miller’s novels in the end, because those are examples of how to take some liberties with the myth and still have it feel like it’s actually set in Ancient Greece.
– Also, I know in the author’s note she does mention that in the time of the myth – 3500BC or so – there wouldn’t be coins as money and some of the city states wouldn’t have been formed (although in the book she actually does have these things), but it’s that kind of thing that takes me out of the story. Specifically in this book, I was taken out the story when Kahina started teaching Atalanta about forks. Which, as the smallest bit of research would tell you, were not used in Ancient Greece. Forks as we know them weren’t actually used in the west until only a few centuries back. And that kind of anachronism really annoys me for some reason. It’s the kind of detail that makes me think that, while there might have been plenty of research gone into the myth itself, research into the era might have been overlooked.
– There was plenty of plot to this book, but even so, I actually found it fairly boring. I think that’s mostly linked to the fact that the writing was only alright, but also a bit to my next point.
– I didn’t like any of the characters. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t dislike them. But I just didn’t actually like them. Ultimately, I didn’t care about them, which would be a major factor in me liking a book (second to good writing). They are good characters, like I said before, but I didn’t care.
– Finally, I just couldn’t see Apollo as an out and out villain. Maybe part of that is because of Rick Riordan and the way he writes the Olympians. But for whatever reason, it just didn’t work for me.
So yeah, in the end, this was just one of those books that was overhyped for me, meaning I didn’t like it as much as I was hoping to.