#BookReview: Daughters of Olympus by Hannah M. Lynn

#BookReview: Daughters of Olympus by Hannah M. LynnDaughters of Olympus by Hannah M. Lynn
Format: eARC
Source: supplied by publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: fantasy, mythology, retellings
Pages: 336
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on July 9, 2024
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBookshop.orgBetter World Books

A daughter pulled between two worlds and a mother willing destroy both to protect her...
Gods and men wage their petty wars, but it is the women of spring who will have the last word...
Demeter did not always live in fear. Once, the goddess of spring loved the world and the humans who inhabited it. After a devastating assault, though, she becomes a shell of herself. Her only solace is her daughter, Persephone.
A balm to her mother's pain, Persephone grows among wildflowers, never leaving the sanctuary Demeter built for them. But she aches to explore the mortal world--to gain her own experiences. Naïve but determined, she secretly builds a life of her own under her mother's watchful gaze. But as she does so, she catches the eye of Hades, and is kidnapped...
Forced into a role she never wanted, Persephone learns that power suits her. In the land of the living, though, Demeter is willing to destroy the humans she once held dear--anything to protect her family. A mother who has lost everything and a daughter with more to gain than she ever realized, their story will irrevocably shape the world.

My Review:

Whether gods make men in their own image, or the other way around, either way it’s NOT a compliment. But it does explain a whole damn lot about the behavior of Zeus and his Olympians.

This is not a pretty story. It’s a reminder that the versions of Greek mythology we all read in school were sanitized to the max and absolutely written from a male perspective. That’s pretty much the only reason I can think of for the cavalier treatment of Zeus’ utter lack of faithfulness to his wife. Not to mention how many of the females who bore his demi-god and demi-goddess offspring said “NO” and ran as far and as fast as they could – even if that wasn’t enough.

So it’s not a stretch to believe that Zeus raped his sister Demeter to create Persephone. It’s all too typical of his behavior. Also utterly infuriating.

Which made Daughters of Olympus a fascinating rage read, because it made me look at something that was a familiar and even beloved part of my childhood reading in an entirely new and retrospectively furious way.

Escape Rating B: I ended up with mixed feelings about this book. At first, I was all in with Demeter’s point-of-view of the way things worked in her world – or rather, the way they mostly didn’t and she always ended up suffering at the hands of her brothers and fellow Olympians. Particularly Zeus. ESPECIALLY Zeus.

To the point where she spends centuries hiding away from her brother, her fellow Olympians, and the whole damn world. As much as I wanted her to stand up and take charge of at least her own fate and destiny – that’s not the way the myths go.

It’s only when the story switches to Persephone and after she is kidnapped by Hades at that, that we start seeing something different emerge – even as Persephone rails against Hades and the fate her father Zeus’ bargains have condemned her to.

What makes this retelling of Greek mythology work is that we see the old familiar stories from the perspective of characters who don’t have their own voices in the versions we originally learned. However, this is a feminine perspective and not a feminist one – regardless of which one the reader might prefer.

Meaning that Demeter and Persephone may be the predominant voices of this retelling, but their agency is still significantly limited. They can run, they can hide, but they can’t overpower – at least not until Demeter takes the reins of her own power to enact a different but still traditional feminine aspect – that of the protective, and if necessary avenging – mother.

So, if you’re looking for a retelling of familiar stories from a different perspective – but not expecting a different ending, Daughters of Olympus has an interesting tale to tell – particularly after Demeter finally breaks through her isolation to find her daughter and Persephone picks up the reins of the power that Hades is willing to give her.

Just don’t expect the story to end differently than we already know that it does. In that respect it’s similar to Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel, in that a traditional story is told from the perspective of an often overshadowed female character, but the outcomes are not and cannot be changed.


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