Book Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Published: February 12, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Even though I consider myself a fan of Greek mythology, I was previously unaware of Cupid and Psyche’s myth or its relationship to the story East of the Sun and West of the Moon.

The author stated the book was initially meant as a YA crossover before she chose to make it an adult romance, and it was apparent throughout the novel. This was part of the reason that I ended up finding the explicit sex scenes throughout a bit jarring at times.

Pieces of it read very much YA, with Psyche acting like a typical 17/18 year old young adult novel protagonist which caused a bit of a clash with Cupid’s character. Cupid is often portrayed as overtly sexual, sometimes coercing affection out of Psyche at the beginning of their relationship. This makes the beginning of their “love” story seem a bit one sided, although they do reconcile and seem a good fit by the end.

The beginning half of the book is focused on the building relationship between Cupid and Psyche. This drags on for just a bit too long, causing a bit of a slump around the middle. I considered putting it down around this point, but am ultimately glad I continued because the pace picks up in the latter half of the book.

Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller36174638

Published: September 20, 2011

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

The Song of Achilles sets out to humanize the immortal hero Achilles, and accomplishes this as well as introduces a heart-wrenching romance to the classic story that had me sobbing in agony by the end.

I’m glad that I read The Iliad before picking this up because I was able to understand a few hints and analogies (such as when Achilles inadvertently cuts off his father when he’s telling a VERY IMPORTANT story) that would have gone over my head otherwise. I’ll admit that I was not very familiar with the non-Homeric Achilles myth, so some aspects of the plot were brand new to me.

Patroclus is a wonderful and caring character who I absolutely loved. Seeing him and Achilles grow together was an enchantingly beautiful experience, and was by far my favorite part. Being able to see the Trojan war through the eyes of a man rather than one of the gods was refreshing and added layers to the scene that the original text glossed over in the interest of contributing to the epic myth.

Achilles is pretty childish in The Iliad, and he remains so in this interpretation of the classic. However, Miller does an amazing job humanizing the immortalized hero, making him more than a spoiled child having a tantrum. By the end, I was crying at all of the pain the characters felt. This is definitely a book that I will pickup and reread, both because of the beauty of the relationship and the prose which I was enraptured by.