Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.– Goodreads
Our first joint review and you can tell it’s joint because the photo is in a different spot! Tina and I think we’re quite hilarious so we’re going to tackle joint reviews on certain books. Certain books because our idea of overlap is 1 out of every 100 books.
Ashley: Months ago, and I really mean months ago Tina and I were discussing how much we would die for an ARC of this book. This came out after BEA when everyone seemed to have an ARC of Antigoddess. One day, while I was napping the doorbell rang and an ARC of this bad boy was at my door. It seems sending really nice emails to the publishing department can help. Thanks TORTeen. You rock!
After I went back to sleep, it was the night of a concert I was saving sleep! I cracked opened this book and devoured it. In hours. Could not put it down. Full of feels. And I’m sure you’re wondering how Tina was handling the fact I got this book while she was 2,000 miles away. As the photo to the right shows. Well. She was handling it well.
It doesn’t help that Kendare Blake is one of the patron saints of our blog and I’ve become very good friends with her sending her awkward emails and oh the mocking we do. Just don’t tell her about the friendship. She starts to yell sport things at me and I send her photos of me hugging a book.
Tina is actually the one who got me into Kendare’s first series Anna Dressed in Blood.
Tina: Yeah. Three emails in about 2 seconds. I lost it when Ashley told me she got this ARC, and then I managed to pick up my own at ALA. It’s no secret that we love Kendare Blake here. I give myself some credit in convincing the people around me to read Anna Dressed in Blood. Cas Lowood is my fictional boyfriend (and Kendare even kind of endorsed it). I’ve had this book on my TBR since before it had a cover. Maybe since before it had a title. I plan to read everything Kendare has ever written, the way I’ve done with Malindo Lo and (almost) Lisa McMann. Plus I love anything that involves a modern spin on old gods. We first meet Athena and Hermes and have to read about Athena’s gross mouth feathers for awhile, but then we got to meet Hera and Odysseus and Circe’s witches, and I was SO THERE. One thing I like about Blake’s writing is how her characters swear like normal teenagers/people do and how their interactions just seem so authentic. Athena’s complicated feelings about Odysseus, Hermes complicated feelings about the war, everything makes sense and seems logical despite who the characters are.
Ashley: I was actually harder to warm up to this book. While I was thrilled for a new Blake novel, Athena and Hermes? Meh. That was always my tougher area while in school. I was however into the fact that it was very much “normal teenagers/people” aspect. I agree with Tina when she said it was authentic and realistic. I loved it. It worked for me, because if anything that is my problem with YA novels. A lack of authentic voice. At work my coworkers joke that I don’t speak “youth” but when teens are talking like 80 year olds, that is clearly hard to read. That never happens to me when reading a Blake novel. She has the teen lingo down.
Tina: I really felt for Cassandra, because humans have never been high priorities for the gods. They had favorites, sure, but they used them for their own ends. Just look at the original Cassandra of Troy and Apollo. The relationship between Aiden and Cassandra was complicated and twisty because of some prior circumstances, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about Aiden after it was all over. There’s a power difference between them that seems too large to bridge, in my opinion. Then again, the Apollo of legend was always a bit of a jerk, so I don’t know what I was expecting. And despite Cassandra being a main character, for most of the novel all I cared about was Athena. Athena, goddess of war and wisdom, keeper of owls, virgin, and she is just a mess. Her strength isn’t half what it used to be and there are those damnable feathers growing in her mouth, but she’s still Athena. She still inspires terror. (I loved Odysseus as well, and the Ody/Athena spark was something I was into watching develop.)
Ashley: Aiden and Cassandra killed me. I know and understand that you are shocked, Tina. I can picture the face you’re making now. And where you cared about Athena, I was all about Cassandra. My heart went out to her. My notes about this book is full of CASSANDRA NOOOOO. AIDEN NOOOOOOO. Because all of these characters gave me feels I didn’t want to deal with at the time. I probably still don’t want to deal with facing them now. If anything, I excel at denial!
Tina: Here’s a quintessential reason I love Kendare Blake:
“Why?” Cassandra snapped. “Are the reporters going to start saying that they deserved it? That they deserved to get blown into a million pieces, because they were whores?”
Excuse my feminism for a moment, but this is what happens a lot of the time in our media. Victims are blamed for their own deaths or for the crimes committed against them, and this happens most often to women in sexual assault situations and women who work in the sex industry. Two things hit me hard about this line. One, I don’t see this kind of thing in many other authors’ works and I think that needs remedying. Two, someone eventually would have come out and said “these women deserved to die because they were whores.” A FOX News pundit perhaps or the loathsome Pat Robertson. Maybe they’d get a woman to go on TV and condemn Circe’s witches, to show there’s no war on women, that it’s not just this subset of men, but women can hate women too.
This book is more than Cassandra and Athena though; it’s about the deaths of the gods, and that can’t be pretty. It’s not. Hermes looks like a dying anorexia victim, Athena has her feathers, Hera is turning to stone, and Poseidon has gone mad. Demeter is little more than skin and Artemis is missing. There’s horror, like any good Kendare Blake novel, and misery, but also humor and lightness and real friendship. Cassandra has a best friend and it’s a girl! That’s so rare in YA, or at least the books I read. Usually the best friend is a boy the protag is in love with until they meet the paranormal creature of their destiny. Lame. And here’s where I’ll include some misgivings I had: the very slow start with the search for Demeter and all the uses of the word “slut” and “slutty” (words I cannot abide being in YA and which was so confusing considering what I quoted above [and yes, I know teenagers/adults call women “sluts” but that’s not really something we need represented here? I just don’t think so]). So, not a lot of gripes here! And really, the ending made this novel. The scenes in the last quarter are equally heartbreaking and intense, and they’re my favorite of the book. I’ll definitely be reading Aristeia next year too. I’m really excited to see where the gods go next and who they’ll meet there.
Ashley: It is not shock that Tina is the better at writing reviews. I don’t deny that, and she sums up a lot of my feelings on this book. But I loved and adored this book so much. I didn’t find nearly as many flaws as Tina did and I don’t even mean to call them flaws because she read this with a different set of glasses than I did. Which is for our first joint review we have both of our ratings and then the dual rating. Because Tina and I agreeing on a book? HAHAHHAHA. No. Rare.
Tina: 3 Stars + Ashley 5 Stars = Tinley 4 Stars