Book Review: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

September 16, 2014 books, reviews 0

I’m back from my holiday in North Germany, which was actually very nice (who would have thought), so have a review! Also check out my guest post at Laura Plus Books, in which I talk about reviewing older books, as well as the best method to review book series when you’re late to the party.

The Dark Wife

Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth. Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want–except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice.

Zeus calls Hades “lord” of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny. But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.

I really wanted to love this book. I absolutely adore the cover and the description sounded exactly like my kind of thing. Unfortunately, even though I was very excited to read this book, it did not live up to my expectations.

There were parts I really liked. The idea that Hades is actually a woman, obviously, and how the author uses elements from the original myth and gives them a little twist. The bleak atmosphere of Hades’ Kingdom and how Persephone learned to see the beauty in it. The theme of learning to trust in yourself.
It’s a very quiet, dreamy kind of book and at first I enjoyed it, but after a while I wanted to snap a finger in front of Persephone’s face and say you can wake up now. I get why she doesn’t talk and think like your every day 21st century girl, but I still missed something. And if she had used the “I grew up sheltered” excuse one more time, I would have thrown the book across the room. I’m not sure I agree with this book’s YA classification. Some of the themes are clearly there, but it didn’t really feel like YA to me.

I liked Hades, but she lacks depth. She’s this self-sacrificing woman and you’re supposed to admire her, but it would have been really nice if the author had given more insight into her character. Some likes and dislikes and motivations and background information. The stuff that makes up a, you know, person. I really wanted to get to know her, but it just didn’t happen. I had a similar problem with the romance. I usually like slow build-ups, but I feel like their relationship (or the description thereof) could have benefitted from more actual talking and getting to know each other as individuals instead of just quiet attraction. I also, for some reason, had a bit of a problem with their age difference. They’re both goddesses, but Hades is a lot older.

The most significant problem this book has is its plot. The romance just isn’t enough to carry the story on its own (especially because it gets pretty sappy towards the end). There are attempts to give the book a good story, but they, again, lack depth. The climax is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of thing and everything is resolved far too easily and by the by. If the book went more into detail and the structure was better, it would be great. As it is, it’s more like pretty wrapping paper around an empty box. I did enjoy that Hades and Persephone seem to make each other better people, but some things just plain didn’t make sense. The rules of the world were (sort of) established and then completely disregarded to solve the main conflict as if everyone just suddenly changed their minds. Say what?

This book frustrates me a lot because it could have been so great. I still liked it, but I can’t really give it more than three stars. If you’re into quiet stories AND you really love greek mythology AND you don’t mind if the world is a little wishy-washy, then I can recommend this book to you. If you’re into fast-paced, action-packed, witty novels, you might want to avoid this one. Points for the cover though.


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