Foreword Reviews

The Rape of Persephone

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

In the atmospheric high fantasy novel The Rape of Persephone, a powerful girl comes of age and comes into her own.

Retelling an ancient Greek story with modern twists, Monica Brillhart’s romantic novel follows the daughter of a high priestess who becomes enamored with a dark and moody king.

Demeter, a high priestess, swore that her daughter, Kore, would not suffer from the lusts of mortal men. Instead, she trained Kore to be a virgin priestess whose life would be dedicated to the gods. But at sixteen, and finding her home to be oppressive, Kore flees. She sets out in search of her father, Zeus; she lands instead in her uncle’s kingdom.

Hades’s world proves to be brutal. In it, prophecies are revealed and authority is challenged. Nonetheless, Kore and Hades wrestle with mixed feelings for each other. Meanwhile, Demeter seeks out her lost daughter.

Herein, ancient Greek gods and goddesses are recast as kings and spiritual leaders. Poetic imagery is used to introduce this cast, whose intriguing positions and powers manifest in their personality traits. Zeus’s lighting is a product of weather watching, and he uses lighting rod technology to control it; Hades reads people’s personal histories and emotional responses in their colorful auras; Kore can see spirits.

Hermes, Hecate, Sisyphus, and Minos also play significant roles in this retelling of the ancient myth. Minos is a grounding force; his checkered past resulted in humility, and he is prone to introspective observations. Some surprising elements of the source material are nonetheless maintained as a source of tension, including Kore’s youth. The fact that Hades is her uncle remains an uncomfortable aspect of their romantic attraction, too. As a pair, they are conflicted, both vulnerable and willing to be persuaded.

Characters’ exchanges reflect the period well; they are formal and philosophical, and given over to questioning concepts of justice, authority, and loyalty. Homeric hymns, prophecies, and spiritual visions are also incorporated, all in inventive ways. And Kore’s sexual curiosity is ably contrasted with her mother’s memories of being sexually assaulted by Zeus and Poseidon. In this environment, lust, sex, and desire are dangerous, as society is still marked by men’s patriarchal entitlement toward women.

Throughout, the book remains an exciting take on an ancient tale, balancing its exposition with its action well; cliffhangers are effectively employed, including at the book’s satisfying ending, which teases further developments.

In the atmospheric high fantasy novel The Rape of Persephone, a powerful girl comes of age and comes into her own, despite being surrounded by people who wish to control her.

Reviewed by Delia Stanley

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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