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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Dark Wife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    Lesbian Hades and Persephone retelling. This was pretty much everything I've ever wanted Lesbian Hades and Persephone retelling. This was pretty much everything I've ever wanted

  2. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Retelling of Persephone's story. Wonderment... So girl-on-girl! Emotional exploration. Prophecied love. Gaea. Cerberus the cuddly! The dead rebellious. The PTSD heroes forever. Definitely underrated. Best for lovers of all things of Ancient Greece. Warning: male figures get thoroughly villainized and punished beyond measure here. Zeus, particularly. It's a bit overboard, really. All the satisfying relationships are sapphic (F-F), which is sort of refreshing and eye-roll-inducing, at the same time Retelling of Persephone's story. Wonderment... So girl-on-girl! Emotional exploration. Prophecied love. Gaea. Cerberus the cuddly! The dead rebellious. The PTSD heroes forever. Definitely underrated. Best for lovers of all things of Ancient Greece. Warning: male figures get thoroughly villainized and punished beyond measure here. Zeus, particularly. It's a bit overboard, really. All the satisfying relationships are sapphic (F-F), which is sort of refreshing and eye-roll-inducing, at the same time. Really, it's not very statistically probable to have only gay gals around. Q: I am not my mother’s daughter. I have forfeited my inheritance, my birthright. I do not possess the privilege of truth. The stories told by fires, the myth of my kidnap and my rape, are all that remain of me. Forever I will be known as the girl who was stolen away to be the wife of Hades, lord of all the dead. And none of it is true, or is so fragmented that the truth is nothing more than a shadow, malformed. The stories are wrong. I am not who they say I am. I am Persephone, and my story must begin with the truth. Here it is, or as close as I can tell it. (c) Q: In the Greece of long ago, gods rose and fell in prominence according to the whims of the people. Hestia was beloved, and then Hermes, and then Ares, and then the next god or goddess in a long history of mortal fickleness. One never remained at the peak of popularity for long, but my mother didn’t worry. She was adored. To be fair, she loved the people as much as they loved her. (c) Q: Everything my mother touched turned golden, came to life, and I was in awe of her. (c) Q: “You will be queen,” she said, over and over, and I almost believed it, but I did not want it. Each time she spoke the words, my heart panged, and I changed the subject, showed her a hive of particularly fat bees, or the lining of a gull’s nest, made perfect by its silver feathers. Her face closed up, and she made me say it, too, that I would be queen of all the gods, far surpassing my competitors in beauty and influence and charm. I was a new evolution, part of a generation of young gods and goddesses created not from foam or other mysterious means but through the power of their immortal mothers. Hera’s daughter was Hebe, Aphrodite’s daughter was Harmonia, and Demeter’s daughter was Persephone. Persephone. Me. (c) Q: I could play with the pups of wolves or tigers, could climb the tallest trees, could eat any poisonous fruit I touched, and nothing would ever harm me. In this, in the beginning, I was my mother’s daughter, and the earth cradled me as its own child. (c) Q: My life was simple and idyllic, though astonishingly empty, before. (c) Q: Most gods did not count their years—what would be the point in counting forever? (c) Q: The day was new and warm—the days were always warm—and the air smelled of sprouts and ripe peaches. (c) Q: All my life, I’d believed my mother could make the impossible possible. In my childhood imaginings, she could sing the moon down, change the pattern of the stars, unmake the world and build it new again, if she wanted. (c) Q: Who does a goddess pray to? I sat very still, my head spinning in tight circles. We have nothing and no one to ask for help, save ourselves. I did not believe in myself enough. (c) Q: The stars shone, silent as always. I folded and lay on the black earth, feeling the empty, lonely places in me crumble until nothing remained but blackness and the scent of white roses I could not see in the dark. (c) Q: There was no ceiling within the Palace of Olympus, only unending sky that changed, at the gods’ whims, to night, to day, to eclipse, to a hundred million stars. (c) Q: They’d shown me an oyster, then, tickled him so that he smiled at me, so I could see the hard shining pearl lying within. My mother and I had laughed, and the sun had gleamed like a polished yellow stone, and all I knew was joy. (с) Q: They wove me a crown, as they’d promised, and I wore it, accepted their flattery and hugs, but my heart was lost in a place to which I’d never traveled. (с) Q: She was strange and a stranger, and I would follow her down to the land of the dead and darkness. I would give up all I had known for the possibility…(c) Q: I kept one hand on the marble wall and walked up and down, around and around, hoping that I would find Hades, worried that I would find something horrifying. (c) Q: There were reasons that I had come down to this place, and if I ever forgot them, I would lose myself to despair. (c) Q: I tried to imagine what it must have been like for her, what it continued to be like, her uncountable years underground. Waking to darkness and whispers instead of sunlight and birdsong. Somehow, she seemed contented with the gloom, so I didn’t pity her—or myself. (c) Q: Her world was my world now, and I was eager to explore it by her side. (c) Q:  “Here the rivers Lethe and Styx mingle together,” ... “You’ve experienced Lethe waters, their healing capabilities. But one drop from these rivers combined, and you would forget all you ever were, all you ever knew.” ... “Oblivion.” (c) Q: I have always wondered—for as long as I’ve been here—if we were all meant to end up in the Elysian Fields, not just the heroes. And if it were populated, if there were enough souls to form communities, I think it could be a truly beautiful place. (с) Q: “But what could they do, other than complain? They’re insubstantial… One of them passed straight through me.” “Look at my arm,” Pallas said. “See how real it looks. You’ve felt it; you know it’s solid. I’m this way because I believe I should be—because I don’t accept the idea that the dead are less. Less real, less physical, less important. It’s all about belief, Persephone. They think they’re nothing, so they look like nothing. Feel like nothing. But if they claimed their own power—” Her eyes were hard, unflinching. “If they banded together, discovered a way to harm Hades… I fear for her.” (c) Q: The Underworld is a funny place—if you wish to go somewhere, there are certain roads you must travel, or you will never arrive at your desired destination. (c) I don't think it's just underworld that is that way... many other things are. Q: “If I had the choice—and I did—I’d choose the village over the fields. You’ve not seen the fields, my friend. I told you; they’re insufferable: endless rows of grain, merciless sun and nothing else but silence. And regret.” (c) Q: “I know the name and history of every person, every creature, who has lived and died. No sparrow falls without my knowledge, and acknowledgment, of it.” (c) Q: Should I be relieved that Charis was yet alive? Should I grieve that her soul was bound in the roots of a rose? Would it have been better if she’d simply died? What did she feel, malformed into something unmoving, unfeeling, inhuman? What did she think about, who did she talk to, with only the soil and the stars for companions? (c) Q: “Everywhere is nowhere in particular in the Underworld.” (c) Q: The stories whispered about her were lies, born of misunderstanding, ignorance and fear. She had deep love for the mortals she presided over, every one of them, even those, like Hageus, who scorned her openly. I couldn’t understand it, why she cared so much about these fragile, often disdainful beings. What did they have to do with the gods? (c) Q: Families reunite in my kingdom, years, sometimes decades after their earthly parting, and the affection they express, the tears of true joy— There’s no match for that beauty in all the wonders of Olympus. (c) Q: “Do you know why they call me the Hospitable One?” ...“It’s because my realm will always have room for more. Sometimes they call me the Rich One. ... “I represent the end, and that terrifies them.” ... They are fools, then, I wanted to say. Who could ever fear so lovely a soul as you? Who could fail to love you, once they knew how good, how noble, how beautiful you are, more worthy of worship than all of the gods combined? (c) Q: I slid into the empty space she’d left behind. (c) Q: “It’s believed that the kingdoms of Poseidon, Zeus, and myself are linked to us, physically, to our souls, our emotions. When Poseidon rages, the waves arc higher than mountains. When Zeus is provoked, the sky explodes with lightning. If the Underworld truly is connected to me, perhaps that’s why it’s changing…rearranging.” (c) Q: The palace, with its disjointed design, its maze of passageways, its loose, softened stone—did it reflect Hades’ inner shape? Did she truly feel so lost, so ruined? (c) Q: It was all gone—the fields; the broken, mislaid souls. (c) Q: “If I can provide peace for even one moment, one moment in an eternity of moments, my efforts, none of them, were in vain.” “You’re mercy itself,”... “How different the world would be if you, not Zeus, had drawn the longest straw.” (c) Q: Cerberus was sitting primly, wagging his tail, as his heads picked fights with each other. It was absurd and hilarious, and we sat together and laughed. (с) Q: I inhaled a quick breath as a light came between us, illuminating Hades’ solemn face. It was a golden sphere, hovering over her palms, twinkling in the narrow cave like a star. (c) Q: “I create light for the Underworld.” “You do more than that,” (c) Q: I remembered watching her dance with the light. I remembered dancing with her under a shower of stardust. How cruel, to bury her brightness in the darkest place. Though, I had to allow, no place needed her light more. (c) Q: She filled the room. She was everywhere—she was the room, the ceiling, the floor. She was Hades, and she was me. Before us, suspended, was a changing spiral of color, of beauty, of earth and sea and sky and a mass of stars, the perfect pattern of a leaf; and the beauty of a stag, dying; and the splendor of a swan, rising up. There was everything within her, everything that had been, everything that yet would be part of the planet. I understood, in that moment, the smallest truth of all that was, and it was still too big, too awe-full for me to bear. I wept, and I pressed my face to the floor, and my heart burst open, love waterfalling from the hole there. ... A gentle hand touched my shoulder, and I turned—wordless, wide-eyed—and reached out to her. She was warm, like the sun, soft, like the soil, and gentle, like Hades’ kiss. She gathered me into an embrace and held me close. She smelled like my mother, but deeper, older: wet earth after a rainstorm; new baby leaves, the first of spring; rich harvests of berries, grapes, grain. “Persephone, Persephone,” she whispered and kissed my forehead.She looked like a woman now, her glory contained in a vessel, a body like mine but not like mine. She was round, curved, voluptuous. Bountiful.. Her hair fell to the ground and was every color on the earth, her dress perfectly woven from the green of ferns and mosses. Upon her face shone the kindness of every person, every creature which tread upon her world, herself, and it was too beautiful for me to understand. I fell to my knees before her, and her smile created me anew. (c) Q: Your souls were one long before there was an earth to be born upon. Millennia later, they are come together again, whole. (с) Q: I faltered not from doubt but because the strength of my love for Hades made me forget all else: words, reason, thought. How could I express my feelings, when words were such thin, mortal things, and the love I felt was something vast, timeless and, truly, immortal? (c) Q: ... we sat for a very long time, stunned, healed, whole, broken, everything, all at once. (c) Q: In the distance, the palace shimmered, glowing like the moon, and it seemed taller, somehow—yes, it was taller, and more lovely than broken, more light than dark. (c) Q: ... so many of the gods’ stories, histories, are exaggerations, revisions of the truth. So many… (c) Q: “Care to join me?”“Always,” (c) Q: “I trust in myself.”...“Then you have all you need,” (с) Q: “The thing about you gods? I’ve watched you. You’re a lot like us. You may not die, but I think you could be trapped in the river, like the mortals. I know it. You’ll be stuck there, and we’ll be free. And the Elysian Fields will be ours.” (с) Q: In the end, all they wanted was a home. (c) Q: As far as the eye could see, farther, as far as the illusion of field and sun stretched on (forever and forever), there was misery, pain, the deepest of sufferings: an eternity, with only regrets for companions. (c) Q: They had been hoping for paradise, and now they knew that there was no such thing. (c) Q: “Freedom,” Hades sighed, returning from the river. “Such as it is.” ... “I’ll have to build a bridge,” she said. (c) Q: there was no palace behind us, only the Underworld plains, and before us, over us, towered a set of great double doors sunk into an earthen wall. They were intricately carved of a flashing stone; as we approached them, they changed color from black to brilliant green to cobalt blue. (c) Q: “You have made of my life something beautiful,” she said. “I am blessed beyond measure by your presence, and love… And I will spend the rest of my forever making you happy. I promise you that.” (c) Q: I wanted to live in this moment, this golden, perfect moment, for always and forever. ... I could be content forever, until the stars fell and the world ceased to be. (c) Q: Every possibility held its breath now. Anything could change; anything could happen. (c) Q: Death opens minds, sets some things right. (c) Q: They dispersed in separate directions, some wandering toward the far wall of the Underworld and the sun room, some approaching the distant, shimmering door that was the entrance to the Elysian Fields. It shone like a star, a star inside of the world. It gave me hope. Not peace, but hope. (c) Q: I was still afraid, but I had realized some truths during Hades’ absence. Even if we were apart, we would be bound by love. Everything else could change, on earth, below it, above it, but my love for her was fixed, like a star. (c) Q: “The stars are the one thing that I miss about the earth. They’re so constant, steady, bright. I’ve always loved the stars. You remind me of them, Persephone,” (c) Q: I’m no longer needed in the Elysian Fields because you opened the door, and the dead themselves began to help one another. (c) Q: It is the autumn equinox, the feast of Persephone, and—bound by the oldest law the world knows—I’m keeping my promise. I’m coming home. To her. (c)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    3.5 stars! I enjoyed this one! It's one of the more accurate retellings when it comes to Hades and Persephone's personalities, though I still don't think this Persephone had quite the fire I like to see. I prefer my Persephone a bit more fearsome. This book is also gayer than I thought it would be and it's awesome. Not only are the main characters gay, but most of the side characters as well. It's very female focused and I loved that. The pacing was what dragged this down for me personally. The 3.5 stars! I enjoyed this one! It's one of the more accurate retellings when it comes to Hades and Persephone's personalities, though I still don't think this Persephone had quite the fire I like to see. I prefer my Persephone a bit more fearsome. This book is also gayer than I thought it would be and it's awesome. Not only are the main characters gay, but most of the side characters as well. It's very female focused and I loved that. The pacing was what dragged this down for me personally. The beginning and the end dragged, but I enjoyed the middle. I also felt the ending wrapped up too quickly and easily, without much explanation or cause. This is a great retelling for those who prefer less angst and more fluff in their romance. It's a slow build to the romance but overall very happy and cute.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    I’ll just say it right off the bat: I really loved this book. A large part of my love comes from the fact that there are very few YA books that represent me. Most YA books that have gay main characters usually deal with the coming out issue, or having the main characters dealing with their sexuality. It’s always an “issues” book. I’m not saying those books are bad--far from it, I think we need those books if they help gay teens--but we also need books where the sexuality of the main character is I’ll just say it right off the bat: I really loved this book. A large part of my love comes from the fact that there are very few YA books that represent me. Most YA books that have gay main characters usually deal with the coming out issue, or having the main characters dealing with their sexuality. It’s always an “issues” book. I’m not saying those books are bad--far from it, I think we need those books if they help gay teens--but we also need books where the sexuality of the main character is nothing to really be commented on, and their life doesn’t completely revolve around it. The fact that a book exists that accomplishes this and is also a retelling of one of my favorite Greek myths? Consider me estatic. I loved how Diemer expanded on the myth of Persephone and Hades, offering a version that could have happened but got misrepresented and misunderstood throughout time. Persephone’s myth is a little tricky to properly retell: Once you get her to the Underworld, what are you supposed to have her do? The original myth pretty much glosses over all that with a simple “she got homesick so she went back home for a bit”. Persephone does get a little homesick in this book, but it doesn’t force her home. It was a realistic reaction to being underground in a relatively dark place but she didn’t let it rule her. Diemer expands on Persephone’s time in the Underworld, having her learn how things work, taking an interest in the kingdom around her. She shows why Persephone will make a wonderful Queen of the Underworld by Hades’ side. Diemer doesn’t just expand on the Persephone myth, but also other various features of Greek mythology, right down to the Elysian Fields. It’s all believable and obviously well thought out. As for characters the one I loved the most was Persephone, which is fitting. She’s a goddess who’s been sheltered her entire life, but she’s also compassionate and loving and, though she doesn’t think so, incredibly brave. Through her courage she changes the world she knows, from the Underworld to Olympus, and it was beautiful to read about. Her journey as a despairing woman who feels she has no control over her own life to a woman who reclaims herself--her agency and power and life--was very wonderfully done, and it was empowering as hell to read. All the main cast are wonderfully written, and Hades is no exception, a kind and compassionate goddess of the Underworld who loves her subjects even though they hate and fear her in return. The chemistry between Persephone and Hades was incredible, and you can see why they’d obviously work well together and be wonderful Queens. Also of note was how Demeter was changed from a controlling, selfish mother to one who couldn’t escape Zeus’ rule, so did her best to protect her daughter from the worst of it. There were quite a few scenes between Demeter and Persephone that made me tear up. The writing was smooth and beautiful, the description vibrant. Though I admit I can see it not working for everyone--sometimes it does swing a little too close to purple prose--I was never particularly bothered by it, and in fact I rather loved it. I could easily envision myself in the Underworld, or the Immortals Forest, thanks to the clear description and atmosphere Diemer creates. The pacing was steady throughout with hardly a slow moment and Diemer packs a lot of stuff into a 250 page book, but none of it hardly ever felt rushed, save for the ending. The ending was a bit rushed and I do rather wish the resolution could have been fleshed out more, but the rest of the book more than makes up for that, by a longshot. The Dark Wife was a beautiful, moving tale of a goddess finding herself in an unfair and cruel world, and reclaiming herself in the face of it. It’s definitely a must read for anyone interested in well done retellings, or a reader who’s looking for representation in a genre that only represents us a certain way. It’s a new favorite book of mine and I will eagerly devour anything else Sarah Diemer writes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    4.25 Stars I wish this book were 500 pages long. I love the setting, the writing, the characters, the conflict-- everything was just pushed too closely together and I would have loved to see this more drawn out. Hades is SUCH an interesting and well-developed character, both personality-wise and in her appearance and mannerisms. But in contrast, Persephone just felt very... childish? I can't locate the exact word to use to describe her, but she was very quick to upset and her naivety was often ir 4.25 Stars I wish this book were 500 pages long. I love the setting, the writing, the characters, the conflict-- everything was just pushed too closely together and I would have loved to see this more drawn out. Hades is SUCH an interesting and well-developed character, both personality-wise and in her appearance and mannerisms. But in contrast, Persephone just felt very... childish? I can't locate the exact word to use to describe her, but she was very quick to upset and her naivety was often irritating. Although the palace in the underworld was easy to picture, I think the world building overall could use some expansion. Also in need of some expansion was the plot and the conflict; most of this book had very low stakes, and it was a lot of sitting around and waiting for Zeus. If some action and problem-solving scenes between the characters was inserted, it would also probably make this feel slightly less insta-lovey, because although I loved the dynamic between Persephone and Hades, their declaration of feelings for each other really only seems to derive from aesthetic attraction without any substantial interaction between the two. Although that's quite a hefty list of things I would improve about this book, I really did enjoy the reading experience. This book has some of the best writing I've picked up in a while, and I highlighted so many swoon-worthy lines. It makes me sad that this book seems to be one-of-a-kind, because I would love to read more f/f mythology retellings in the future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    branewurms

    I really wanted to like this, but I... didn't. I'm sorry! But I really didn't. For starters, it was so... gooshy. I feel like a twelve year old boy screaming "cooties" here, but jfc, there is a limit to how much of that oozing and gooshing and doe-eyeing at each other I can take. I mean, just to put this in perspective, I love romantic subplots! And I am a die-hard fandom shipper! BUT THIS WAS SO GOOSHY AUGH COOTIES. And Persephone, really, we get that you love Hades; you only tell us this about I really wanted to like this, but I... didn't. I'm sorry! But I really didn't. For starters, it was so... gooshy. I feel like a twelve year old boy screaming "cooties" here, but jfc, there is a limit to how much of that oozing and gooshing and doe-eyeing at each other I can take. I mean, just to put this in perspective, I love romantic subplots! And I am a die-hard fandom shipper! BUT THIS WAS SO GOOSHY AUGH COOTIES. And Persephone, really, we get that you love Hades; you only tell us this about once every page. I don't want to spout the "show, don't tell," cliche here, but I think conveying emotion really works best and feels most genuine when you don't outright state it very often, and you let the characters' actions speak for themselves. That goes for Persephone's other feelings, too - the despair we're told so often about, the joy, all of it. Hades is just too perfect, too smooth; she doesn't have any flaws. Not much personality, either. Neither does Persephone - I didn't come away knowing much about these women, other than that Hades was gentle and loving and Persephone was, idk, a youthful rebellious spirit or whatever. This robs their relationship of tension and believability. They seemed to be nothing but gooshy feelings for each other. I don't know why but I feel kind of bad for not liking this one! I'm sorry! And the author seems like a really cool person too. I just... don't think this book was for me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    tappkalina

    So where can I sign a marriage contract with this Hades? “All you need to begin something is the courage enough to begin it.” In this book Hades is the queen of the Underworld, the sweetest being ever while Zeus is the devil itself. I'm an atheist, but if this Hades exists, I'm ready to glorify her. I just couldn't not. Especially when she cares about everyone so deeply and says things like these: Hades pressed her lips against my neck, kissed me. “And you, Persephone… You were foretold, too. I So where can I sign a marriage contract with this Hades? “All you need to begin something is the courage enough to begin it.” In this book Hades is the queen of the Underworld, the sweetest being ever while Zeus is the devil itself. I'm an atheist, but if this Hades exists, I'm ready to glorify her. I just couldn't not. Especially when she cares about everyone so deeply and says things like these: Hades pressed her lips against my neck, kissed me. “And you, Persephone… You were foretold, too. I never wanted anything—” her mouth moved softly, gently over my skin “—until I wanted you.” “You have made of my life something beautiful,” she said. “I am blessed beyond measure by your presence, and love… And I will spend the rest of my forever making you happy. I promise you that.” The romace was so sweet I literally melted here. The writing style was really easy to read, it flew by. My only complaint is that I feel like the end was a bit rushed. But being in the Underworld was something I needed. It's definitely the most magical book I read this year.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Vinaya

    The best word I can think of to describe Sarah Diemer's debut novel The Dark Wife, is sweet. It is a very pretty revisionist retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, rich in atmosphere and romance. The premise is promising. Persephone, the daughter of the ambitious Earth goddess Demeter, falls in love with a nymph named Charis. But her beloved is tragically taken away from her when she resists the lecherous advances of Zeus, who Persephone later discovers is her father. Filled with hatred The best word I can think of to describe Sarah Diemer's debut novel The Dark Wife, is sweet. It is a very pretty revisionist retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, rich in atmosphere and romance. The premise is promising. Persephone, the daughter of the ambitious Earth goddess Demeter, falls in love with a nymph named Charis. But her beloved is tragically taken away from her when she resists the lecherous advances of Zeus, who Persephone later discovers is her father. Filled with hatred and aware that Zeus has some very unsavoury plans for her future, Persephone is trapped by the king of Olympus' invitation to come and stay at his palace. Encouraged by her half-brother Hermes, she decides to rebel, and escapes into the Underworld to avoid Zeus' dominion. But all is not what she expected with regard to the Lord of the Underworld. First of all, the Lord is a Lady. Yes, it turns out that Hades is a woman, and not just any woman, but one who is kind, just, sensitive and far from the terrible, cruel ruler she is portrayed as being. Trapped under the earth in a dark new world, Persephone must adjust to the rules of this place, and deal with her growing feelings for Hades, as well as the threat to her life and that of her beloved's, from the unquiet unhappy spirits of the underworld. The Dark Wife is the first self-published book I've ever read (apart from my meagre attempt at finishing Tiger's Curse), and I must thank Sarah Diemer for dispelling my fears about the quality of self-published books. Both writing and editing are pretty much top notch - in fact, better than some of the mainstream YA books I've read. Diemer has a very pretty way of writing that exactly suits the story she is telling. Whimsical and sweet, it matches the entire tone of the book. The romance is awesome - I'm not a big fan of issue books, whether they are 'straight' or 'LGBT'. So, much as with Gone, Gone, Gone, I appreciate the fact that the author has told a very romantic lesbian love story without descending into unnecessary angst. The period setting, and the free-and-easy ways of the Greeks help make the sexuality of the main characters as commonplace as the the default heterosexual love stories of our times. I really liked the slow, tentative yet sweet progression of Hades and Persephone's romance, and I love, love, LOVED the marriage scene. There were two things that stopped me from giving this book five stars. The first was the black-and-white nature of the characters in this book. Persephone was sweet and loving and lost. Hades was sweet and generous and loving, practically a saint. Zeus was unmitigated evil, filled to the brim with lust and punch-drunk on power. Even Demeter, who I was hoping would turn out to be some sort of ambitious, over-protective mama, falls flat as a character, just a pawn in Zeus's evil games. There is not much depth to the characters, few shades of grey and fewer excesses of emotion. The prose is very pretty and easy to digest, but it doesn't stir you into any great height of emotion. Which leads me to the second thing that lessened the reading experience a little for me. I've always loved Greek mythology, simply because it is so flawed and vibrant and throbbing with godly excesses. One of the reasons I hated The Goddess Test was because it was so flat and unenthusiastic. I feel like if you're going to retell a mythology that is so colorful, you need to be able to infuse life into it. The Dark Wife works very well as a love story, even as a coming-of-age story, but as a vivid portrayal of ancient Greek mythology, it falls somewhat flat. The book is focused so heavily on Persephone and Hades and their blossoming romance, that it sacrifices the atmosphere of the Age in which it took place. However, unlike with The Goddess Test, for me, the good outweighs the bad in this case. I loved Diemer's style of writing, she has the 'pretty' prose down pat, and tells a sweet (there's that word again!) absorbing story that definitely appealed to the romantic in me. I liked how Persephone grew from a naive, scared girl into a confident, loving woman confident in her own power. I loved the gender-bending too, Hades as a woman totally played for me, as did the idea of patriarchal propaganda that portrays her as a man. My favourite part, of course, was the puppy Cerberus, ugly but cute, licking everyone enthusiastically and struggling to accommodate his three little heads! It made me want a three-headed puppy of my own! All in all, this was a great first attempt by a very promising writer, and I'm looking forward to what Diemer comes up with next. There is a free copy of the book up for grabs on Sarah's website, and I hope more people will go check out this story, and buy it, because this is a pretty awesome book and definitely deserves more attention. I recommend it for anyone looking for an easy, well-written romantic read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ˗ˏˋ aphrodite ˊˎ˗

    FINALLY A HADES X PERSEPHONE RETELLING I ACTUALLY LIKED AND CAN RECOMMEND TO YOU ALL I cannot express how happy I am that this was not only beautifully written but it was SO INCREDIBLY GAY. the plot wasn’t that great but WHO CARES? ITS LESBIANS. GREEK LESBIANS. AND ITS SOFT. AND BEAUTIFUL. READ IT.

  10. 4 out of 5

    booksNpenguins

    "You go there every day. You speak with them, but they don't remember your visits. The don't listen. They don't change. So why... Why do you put yourself through this trauma, in vain?" "I must." Hades regarded me evenly. "If I can provide peace for even one moment, one moment in an eternity of moments, my efforts, none of them, were in vain." I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a pomegranate again without crying. What a wonderful, emotional and glorious story. The word beautiful ap "You go there every day. You speak with them, but they don't remember your visits. The don't listen. They don't change. So why... Why do you put yourself through this trauma, in vain?" "I must." Hades regarded me evenly. "If I can provide peace for even one moment, one moment in an eternity of moments, my efforts, none of them, were in vain." I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a pomegranate again without crying. What a wonderful, emotional and glorious story. The word beautiful appears 62 times in this book and I think this means something and definitely isn't a coincidence. So so so so beautiful. I guess I owe this gorgeous lady a thousand hugs for the recommendation. ACTUAL RATINGS 4.75/5 (the writing was a bit pompous and messy at the start, but that's this book's only flaw)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I expected The Dark Wife to be a romantic lesbian Young Adult retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, a sort of modernized, supernatural love story underground. That turned out to be only the surface layer of an empowering, emotional, spiritually rich journey of one young woman who, with uncommon courage and compassion, overcame the impossible in charting a destiny of her own making to become one of the most powerful and enduring Goddesses of all time. Persephone reclaims her life from those I expected The Dark Wife to be a romantic lesbian Young Adult retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, a sort of modernized, supernatural love story underground. That turned out to be only the surface layer of an empowering, emotional, spiritually rich journey of one young woman who, with uncommon courage and compassion, overcame the impossible in charting a destiny of her own making to become one of the most powerful and enduring Goddesses of all time. Persephone reclaims her life from those who sought to control her. She refused to allow men, whether Gods or mortals, to determine her fate or to write her history. She follows her heart to lasting love, yes, but more importantly she found within herself a Goddess to believe in. This book healed my psyche. My tears soothed the bitter, broken places inside me that have felt victimized and powerless. Persephone's triumph reignited my own belief in my inherent goodness and strength. I was reborn, along with Persephone, in the retelling of her myth. Persephone is a role model, not just for lesbian women and girls, but for females everywhere. Reclaim your power and live, fearlessly, with heart.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mia

    I was all over this concept, let me say straight off. Honestly it's the concept that kept this from being a two starred review. This book almost hits a lot of interesting points repeatedly, but it always tends to land shy of where it seems to be going. The notions of Greek Gods being human-like but also not kind of worked, but Zeus and Hades were so polarized in terms of evil and good respectively (and isn't that a twist compared to most modern tellings) that it was hard to really take either of I was all over this concept, let me say straight off. Honestly it's the concept that kept this from being a two starred review. This book almost hits a lot of interesting points repeatedly, but it always tends to land shy of where it seems to be going. The notions of Greek Gods being human-like but also not kind of worked, but Zeus and Hades were so polarized in terms of evil and good respectively (and isn't that a twist compared to most modern tellings) that it was hard to really take either of them as realized characters, let alone love interests. I also wasn't sure why exactly Persephone was being preened for Olympus, because the concepts of how this universe was established were added as needed, instead of ingrained from the start. I think the falling out happened the moment Persephone left Demeter's lair for Olympus. Everything became very tilted and hard to connect to in terms of details and rules of the universe. All the characters fluttered around Persephone in a way that was never explained. Sometimes it worked, like the water nymphs playing with her, but most of the time it didn't (such as Hermes' random interest and whispering of prophecies). It's really nice to read queer stories with happy outcomes, so I'm not disparaging that aspect of it, but I blinked and missed the climax and ending. Everything builds so slowly to this romance and then the conflict peters out in an extremely odd way. The concept is still great, I love the Persephone myth, especially when pitched against a consensual situation (as Hades is probably the least jerkish of the Greek Gods, modern portrayals aside) and a lesbian retelling is pretty neat! The execution left a lot to be desired though and I think the abrupt wrap up of the ending was the part that left me cold.

  13. 5 out of 5

    D

    I wanted to like this. I really did. But I couldn't. Not really. It has its moments. I loved that scene in Hades where the dead were finally allowed to enter the Elysian Fields, only to find that it wasn't the paradise they thought it were, but just a different side of the coin of suffering. But at the same time, this pleasure is marred by the fact that well, I was wondering the whole time how much the author really knew about ancient Greek mythology so as to re-tell one of the most controversial I wanted to like this. I really did. But I couldn't. Not really. It has its moments. I loved that scene in Hades where the dead were finally allowed to enter the Elysian Fields, only to find that it wasn't the paradise they thought it were, but just a different side of the coin of suffering. But at the same time, this pleasure is marred by the fact that well, I was wondering the whole time how much the author really knew about ancient Greek mythology so as to re-tell one of the most controversial ones (ever). Lots of the structuring of the society (not that you really get to see much of that, since Persephone is pretty much sheltered and mostly just moons over her current lover of that time) feels more of a modern Western idea rather than ancient Greek idea. (Yeah yeah, who am I to say that Greek civilisation wasn't like modern times? Well, lots of things that happened in ancient Greeks would shock people in modern times, so...?) It feels weak to me, somehow. The worlding is weak. The character development is weak. The motives for each character are weak. The core idea is interesting, but it doesn't actually deliver. It's on the way to being 'good' but it's not there yet. Charis, Persephone's first lover, vanished so quickly and so cruelly and I had my doubts about her being there as a plot device: she was there to give us a concrete example of just how evil Zeus can be. In demonising Zeus, the author weakened Demeter: the goddess who in her grief and fury froze the earth so she could get her daughter back. In the novel, Demeter is pressured by Zeus to keep the world in winter just so he could get Persephone back from the Underworld. And she, knowing how much her daughter hated Zeus, ALLOWED IT. Because Zeus is the god of all gods. ????? And if we're gonna be talking about strong women in Greek mythology, the lack of Hera in this novel is kinda disturbing? Remember Hera, who in the Iliad got Zeus drunk so she could help the Greeks win when Zeus was clearly favouring the other side? Hera, usually portrayed as a harridan wife, but who certainly gives you the idea that Zeus is certainly not as all powerful as he'd like you to believe? Yeah. That Hera. No Hera. Boo! Actually, of the sons and daughters of Cronus, only Zeus, Hades, and Demeter make their appearance. The thing is, Hades keeps on saying, 'No one is purely evil' blah blah, but at the same time, we are never given an idea why Zeus acts like he does. Capricious. Mad. Perhaps driven mad by power? But if the idea is to humanise the gods, there has to be a motive for this madness. If not motive, then at least something, something that we can understand. His insistence on getting Perspehone back is puzzling and annoying. 'No one knows why Zeus is doing what he does, but he always gets what he wants' is not enough. We need to know what's going on, because at the end of the day, you have made Zeus into a villain and despite what Hades said, that villain is purely evil. (I remember Anne Rice saying in one of her novels that if the story has a villain, then you have failed. I don't need to like ALL the characters in the story, but I do WANT to give them a chance to be understood. Zeus was never given this chance.) As for the romance between Hades and Persephone... I don't know. It's too cheesy. And I'm not saying this because wow, I'm too cool for romances (I read Regency Romances, for pete's sake). But it's cheesy and convenient and apart from, well, external forces, there is no tension between them at all. You see, one of the reasons why I love Persephone's myth is that it IS empowering. Of course, that depends on where you're standing and where you're coming from, since Hades DID abduct and rape her. At the same time, you read the myths and every time anyone ever goes to Hades, they almost never speak to the god of the dead himself: they speak to Persephone. (It was because of Persephone Orpheus got a chance with Eurydice again, right?) She ruled the Underworld with Hades, and he listened to her advice. Persephone was not going to be the victim here: she found her way into being as powerful as her husband. (Also, as far as I know, Hades is probably the only god who took only ONE wife and no recorded lovers. He was faithful to her. Which is surprising given he only sees her half a year.) In the novel, Persephone is told that she is destined to bring about change (DESTINY, which is normal in myths but if there's something I would have preferred to be modernised, it would be the idea of No More Destined Heroes Please). That her meeting and eventual romance with Hades is destined. In the long narrative given by Persephone (using four sentences when one would have served), we are told how she felt for Hades, but at the same time those words buried all the feelings she might have felt. I don't feel love for Hades. In fact, despite Athena's absence and apparent disinterest, what interested me more was Pallas's past love. There is something interesting there. A mortal and a goddess. An impetuous, hot-headed love affair that ended (like so many love affairs with gods) in murder. That's something that I might want to read more than this story. AND Persephone's story is probably one of my favourites. I don't know. I'm not sorry I read this. I just wish that it was more. (ALSO, using the Roman names for some of the gods in a Greek setting is kinda???????????????)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elle (ellexamines)

    3.5 stars. So... this is a sapphic retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth. It's not the best thing I've ever read, but it's definitely solid. ♔ Hades and Persephone are each likable, decent characters. Hades is a little flat and far less evil than you'd expect. Persephone isn't full of personality, but her character arc as she goes from a woman without much agency to a woman in full control of her own destiny makes up for her initial character. The ending of her character arc is especially power 3.5 stars. So... this is a sapphic retelling of the Hades/Persephone myth. It's not the best thing I've ever read, but it's definitely solid. ♔ Hades and Persephone are each likable, decent characters. Hades is a little flat and far less evil than you'd expect. Persephone isn't full of personality, but her character arc as she goes from a woman without much agency to a woman in full control of her own destiny makes up for her initial character. The ending of her character arc is especially powerful. ♚ The main couple here are built up in genuine, lovely way. There's a torch of insta-attraction, but from there, their love grows slowly enough. They are two women who have both been downcast from the gods, each for different reasons, and want to find their own agency. Their relationship is truly lovely. ♔ The Dark Wife does offer some interesting interpretations of classic Greek myth. The concept of the Elysian Fields felt especially fleshed out and interesting. I also appreciated that Zeus was a villain; it was refreshing. ♚ Writing style. The writing is full of telling, not showing, which unfortunately takes down the quality level quite a bit. However, I do think the prose was fairly pretty in places. VERDICT: I fully admit this wasn't great literature or anything; the writing isn't developed enough, the characters could've gone further, and the story has a touch of instalove. But it's a genuinely sweet book and I enjoyed it a lot. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Youtube

  15. 5 out of 5

    Book Worm

    I just love when old myths are retold and the beliefs we have about the old Gods are questioned. Here we are asked to imagine a thoughtless and selfish Zeus and a kind, loving and gentle Hades, whose actually a Goddess. And I must say it makes much more sense. I'd rather imagine a gentle "Lord" of the Dead - for death is everlasting and unchangeable. Who would want to be ruled by someone cruel and cold forever? What astonished me was the poetry hidden in this story, in the descriptions, in the sy I just love when old myths are retold and the beliefs we have about the old Gods are questioned. Here we are asked to imagine a thoughtless and selfish Zeus and a kind, loving and gentle Hades, whose actually a Goddess. And I must say it makes much more sense. I'd rather imagine a gentle "Lord" of the Dead - for death is everlasting and unchangeable. Who would want to be ruled by someone cruel and cold forever? What astonished me was the poetry hidden in this story, in the descriptions, in the symbolism, in the dialogues. It was pure pleasure. I partly read this book and partly heard it and though I liked the narrator, I didn't love her. Usually I would much rather listen to a good rendition, but here I tired of the narrator and found myself wanting to read, so I could slow down at will and read again a poetic line or two. So I guess it is more the book that doesn't lend itself to narration.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anna lost in stories *A*

    I found this book totally by accident and it sounded so interesting and fit perfectly into the mood I was in at the time, that I got it and read it basically in one sitting ;) I mean, come on… an FF retelling of Hades and Persephone story? how could I resist? ;) and I did really liked it :) I am giving it 4 stars, because even though there were a lot of things I loved in this book, there were also things that could have been done a bit better… let’s get into all of that a bit more :) First of all I found this book totally by accident and it sounded so interesting and fit perfectly into the mood I was in at the time, that I got it and read it basically in one sitting ;) I mean, come on… an FF retelling of Hades and Persephone story? how could I resist? ;) and I did really liked it :) I am giving it 4 stars, because even though there were a lot of things I loved in this book, there were also things that could have been done a bit better… let’s get into all of that a bit more :) First of all, I am putting a trigger warning for you, because pretty early on in the story there is a rape scene… it’s not extremely graphic, but if you are sensitive to that kind of content, keep it in mind going into this one… aside from this, I absolutely loved the writing style of this novel… so much so, that I will definitely be getting more books by this author in the future… especially since from what I saw of them, they are mostly, if not all of them, FF stories :) and I need more of that content in my life :) when it comes to the story itself, it was done pretty well… although I do feel like the relationship between Hades and Persephone was a bit underdeveloped… I enjoyed the scenes they were in together, but couldn’t really understand the depth of their connection based on just the few interactions they had before… nonetheless, they make a very cute couple ;) the secondary characters were very interesting, and just the whole take on the retelling of this story was something I very much enjoyed… both when it comes to Hades and Persephone, as well as some other famous characters… :) to be perfectly honest, I read it so quickly, that… I don’t really have anything else to say… besides that maybe the ending of the book and the resolution to the pretty big conflict felt rushed and was solved way more easily than I expected from all the build up… but I can’t wait to see what other stories this author wrote, cause I really did fell in love with her writing style ;) it’s definitely worth checking out :) XOXO A

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    SapphicAThon: Retelling I don't know what it is about the author's writing but I just don't like it. I think I would've liked this more if I knew anything about the Hades and Persephone myth. SapphicAThon: Retelling I don't know what it is about the author's writing but I just don't like it. I think I would've liked this more if I knew anything about the Hades and Persephone myth.

  18. 4 out of 5

    BadassCmd

    This is a really lovely retelling. I love myths and I love when the ladies of myths get a voice and perspective in modern adaptations. And I have always had a special fondness for Persephone, so I'm really happy to see her and Lady Hades falling in love in a more healthy way than the original myth tells it. As someone who's not a big fan of marriage plots: I'M SO HAPPY THEY ARE WIVES. I love Hades, she's so gentle and good, I want to protect her too. The characterisation of Persephone could have go This is a really lovely retelling. I love myths and I love when the ladies of myths get a voice and perspective in modern adaptations. And I have always had a special fondness for Persephone, so I'm really happy to see her and Lady Hades falling in love in a more healthy way than the original myth tells it. As someone who's not a big fan of marriage plots: I'M SO HAPPY THEY ARE WIVES. I love Hades, she's so gentle and good, I want to protect her too. The characterisation of Persephone could have gone a bit deeper (especially since the story is told from her perspective) - but I didn't mind it too much since this is a retelling and the way everything was described reminded me of the way most antique myths are written down, but easier to read. I also liked that the story met some of the major 'plot points' as I remember them from the Hades-Persephone-Myth, but gave everything more background, different meanings and nuances and at the same time added it's own story (view spoiler)[with the rebellion of the dead and everything with my girl Pallas and the fall of Zeus (hide spoiler)] . Also: PUPPY CERBERUS!

  19. 4 out of 5

    emma

    “You are so loved, Persephone. You will endure such sorrow, but you will transform the world.” 3.25 stars. Mmmmm. Lots of mixed feelings here. The relationship between Hades and Persephone was sweet, but there wasn't much else to this. The writing was good sometimes, and not good sometimes? I feel like I would have enjoyed this if it was shorter. A lot of the story felt pretty isolated and directionless, because of the handful of subplots that kept fading in and out. Persephone mostly just sat “You are so loved, Persephone. You will endure such sorrow, but you will transform the world.” 3.25 stars. Mmmmm. Lots of mixed feelings here. The relationship between Hades and Persephone was sweet, but there wasn't much else to this. The writing was good sometimes, and not good sometimes? I feel like I would have enjoyed this if it was shorter. A lot of the story felt pretty isolated and directionless, because of the handful of subplots that kept fading in and out. Persephone mostly just sat around in the underworld for a long time, and I found myself getting bored around the halfway point. I did like Cerberus, the freaking adorable three-headed puppy, though. cw: rape

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Nice premise (lesbian Persephone retelling with a female Hades), rather simplistically/amateurishly executed. I do wonder, as with the lesbian Cinderella novel "Ash", if I would have liked this better as a curious teenager, since it's aimed at the YA set, who is of course pretty lacking in same-sex romances of any sort. However, I am left just wanting to recommend my friend Katherine Beutner's marvellous "Alcestis", a retelling of a Greek myth which involves a girl's descent to the Underworld in Nice premise (lesbian Persephone retelling with a female Hades), rather simplistically/amateurishly executed. I do wonder, as with the lesbian Cinderella novel "Ash", if I would have liked this better as a curious teenager, since it's aimed at the YA set, who is of course pretty lacking in same-sex romances of any sort. However, I am left just wanting to recommend my friend Katherine Beutner's marvellous "Alcestis", a retelling of a Greek myth which involves a girl's descent to the Underworld in place of her father (and where she has an affair with Persephone). It's not YA but hits many of these same themes a little more deftly.

  21. 5 out of 5

    T

    Audiobook version: Though i like the narrator from other books I've listened to, this is one book where despite having a good narrator, i enjoyed reading this book more. I'm still giving it 5 stars because i love Sarah Diemer's writing. I love her prose and pacing, not too mention the re-telling of this Greek mythology. It was just weird having someone else put their inflections on it. I recommend this book however you get it. Audiobook version: Though i like the narrator from other books I've listened to, this is one book where despite having a good narrator, i enjoyed reading this book more. I'm still giving it 5 stars because i love Sarah Diemer's writing. I love her prose and pacing, not too mention the re-telling of this Greek mythology. It was just weird having someone else put their inflections on it. I recommend this book however you get it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jillian -always aspiring-

    (Actual Rating: 3.5 stars) Imagine that everything you knew about Greek mythology was skewed so that Zeus could better control mortals by spreading lies and untruths.  Imagine if Hades, ruler of the Underworld, was actually a goddess.  Imagine if Persephone, daughter of Demeter, actually chose to escape to the Underworld instead of being kidnapped.  The Dark Wife, debut novel from Sarah Diemer, is a tale that turns Greek myth inside out and makes it something darkly beautiful, a gem among the dul (Actual Rating: 3.5 stars) Imagine that everything you knew about Greek mythology was skewed so that Zeus could better control mortals by spreading lies and untruths.  Imagine if Hades, ruler of the Underworld, was actually a goddess.  Imagine if Persephone, daughter of Demeter, actually chose to escape to the Underworld instead of being kidnapped.  The Dark Wife, debut novel from Sarah Diemer, is a tale that turns Greek myth inside out and makes it something darkly beautiful, a gem among the dull rocks of Greek myth retellings for young adults. The Dark Wife is one of those books that you can't help but like.  The prose itself is noteworthy, giving the story a poetic flair and adding a layer that sadly isn't present often enough in young adult books.  Persephone as the narrator has a strong and sympathetic voice, and her slowly building relationship with Hades is a nice change of pace from the instant love trend. However much I loved the writing and the flow of it, I have to admit that sometimes things seemed a bit too perfect.  The Greek gods and goddesses were capricious beings that were as flawed as mortal beings -- but, oddly, Hades was presented as this perfect yet somber woman.  A part of me kept expecting more from her character.  While Persephone herself had a number of shades (most notably present when she vows that she will get revenge on Zeus for what he did to her lover, Charis), Hades seemed one-dimensional at times.  She is a tragic figure, yes, but never did I see any of the other effects of sadness:  bitterness, resentment, anger, helplessness, etc.  To see any of those emotions in her character would have made her an even more moving figure and not just this perfect lover and goddess.  I realize that she was basically the antithesis to Zeus in this story, but perfect qualities were not traits that any of the Greek gods had.  Why should Hades be any different? Gripe about Hades aside, I did appreciate that Sarah Diemer respected the roots of Greek mythology yet also managed to make them her own.  Not an easy feat.  Everything I read seemed a parallel myth, what really could have been the story if time and embellishments had not warped the original myth.  It was intriguing and fascinating to wonder, just wonder, if the myths really were once different creations entirely. No matter its flaws, The Dark Wife proved to be an enjoyable read that renewed my belief that Greek myth retellings can be done well without adhering strictly to the original myths.  With a start like this, I think we can expect some even more wonderful creations from Sarah Diemer in the future.  In the meantime, give this one a chance.  It's well worth the read -- even if only to be assured that young adult Greek myth retellings are not all lost causes. Some can even be kind of wonderful.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bard Bloom

    The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer, is a lesbian separatist reformulation of the Persephone myth. Now, I suppose that someone could do a *good* lesbian separatist reformulation of the Persephone myth, especially if they start out with the first nonstandardness of The Dark Wife, viz. that Hades is a woman. I've certainly read versions of the myth in which Persephone actively chooses Hades for one reason or another. But The Dark Wife has some divergences from Greek mythology which I find blasphemous (as The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer, is a lesbian separatist reformulation of the Persephone myth. Now, I suppose that someone could do a *good* lesbian separatist reformulation of the Persephone myth, especially if they start out with the first nonstandardness of The Dark Wife, viz. that Hades is a woman. I've certainly read versions of the myth in which Persephone actively chooses Hades for one reason or another. But The Dark Wife has some divergences from Greek mythology which I find blasphemous (as I am an active worshipper of Athena and Hermes in particular). I follow Roman law in this regard, of "let the gods avenge themselves". So I'm not going to complain on *religious* grounds that Diemer's Zeus is an all-powerful self-centered bully and effectively the source of all evil in the cosmos. Or that Diemer's Athene is a lesbian slut. I *am* going to complain about literary flaws. First, it's a rather tedious romance: love at first sight, with Hades being endlessly kind and sweet to the narrating Persephone. There are several ways to make a love story interesting or engaging. Diemer avoids them all. A significant amount of the trouble in the story could have been avoided if the main characters would only talk to each other about the important things. In this case there is no logistical reason for them not to — they have days or months in which they could do so. And they obviously love and care about each other even before they admit it. So why withhold crucial information from each other? Sheesh. "Zeus' lies": One of the premises of the book is that standard present-day Greek mythology is actually what has come to us about the doings of the gods. That's kind of interesting. Diemer uses that like a club: Zeus is constantly telling lies about people which are universally believed, and which become Greek mythology. At least he has some reasons to tell the lies: e.g., he attempts to manipulate the dead to rebel against Hades. (It is unclear on why the dead believe these lies, since they are in constant contact with Hades and should know what she is like, but they do.) (It is also unclear why supremely powerful Zeus bothers to sneak-attack Hades this way, rather than taking his usual power-attack approach.) Persephone defeats Zeus in about three sentences. And takes down Olympus on the next page. Seriously. Diemer spends more text talking about the garden of metal flowers that Hades makes for Persephone than she does when Persephone takes down the most powerful god. Pallas is a major character. That's cool — in standard mythology Pallas was Athena's childhood friend/foster-sister/sweetheart/something, but Athena killed her by mistake. Since The Dark Wife is set in the underworld, of course Pallas is *there*, and it's an excellent idea to have her be an important character. And she still is in in love with Athene. And there's a significant plotline about Pallas having Persephone try to deliver a message to Athene. And this plotline is dropped without a trace. Persephone gets a message for Athene, and … never delivers it, never sees Athene, nothing. And half the book is Persephone swooning around in absolute delight or absolute despair for one or another minor reason. But I find lots of romances have that feature. Anyways, one head of Cerberus out of five. Not recommended even if you like both lesbian separatist fiction and Greek mythology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chichipio

    I decided to try this after reading Vinaya's review. She made some good points about the works of self-published authors that, having been reading some of them myself, I was curious to verify. Quality-wise this is a 4 star book. But it would be unfair of me to rate it like that because I've been giving 4 stars to books I've enjoyed much more. The thing is, romance is not exactly my cup of tea. I mostly just tolerate it in my stories rather than it being my reason for picking them. Anytime that th I decided to try this after reading Vinaya's review. She made some good points about the works of self-published authors that, having been reading some of them myself, I was curious to verify. Quality-wise this is a 4 star book. But it would be unfair of me to rate it like that because I've been giving 4 stars to books I've enjoyed much more. The thing is, romance is not exactly my cup of tea. I mostly just tolerate it in my stories rather than it being my reason for picking them. Anytime that the small part of my brain that believes stupid things like "love conquers all" starts saying "Awww… that is sooo swe—" the much larger cynical part would cut it off scoffing "Yeah, right, I want to see where they'll be ten years from now. Let's see if they can still be just as corny." But personal choice aside, this was very well written. Even if the characters were definitely black and white, they gain major points for honoring the mythology. Yes, things were not exactly as we know them, but even the reason behind the differences are explained. It's rather nice seeing Zeus and Hades not talking about purity or the seven deathly sins. All that said, I'm using this review to let everybody know that, if I ever decide to read romance non-stop, this kind of book is the way to go. It combines two of my favorites things, women getting it on and reading. Pure win!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    First of all, I love this cover. Second, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I was a little worried about the quality of writing I've come to expect from self-published books, but this was good! It's a simple story, and the synopsis pretty much tells you everything that happens in the book. It's a teen romance that unfolds slowly, but with a mythological twist. I really enjoyed it. Full review to be posted soon at The Lesbrary! First of all, I love this cover. Second, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I was a little worried about the quality of writing I've come to expect from self-published books, but this was good! It's a simple story, and the synopsis pretty much tells you everything that happens in the book. It's a teen romance that unfolds slowly, but with a mythological twist. I really enjoyed it. Full review to be posted soon at The Lesbrary!

  26. 4 out of 5

    vicky.

    it was so cute and so gay but it is also a very simple story. I mean everyone is good and gay BUT Zeus who is blamed for everything. I would have love to have a little for more depth for pretty much everyone, the idea of a lesbian retelling of Hades and Persephone is great but not very well executed.

  27. 4 out of 5

    casey

    tw: rape I have no idea how to rate this. I loved the writing, and the beginning was strong, but Persephone felt too young and innocent for me to really get behind her relationship with Hades. I might lower the rating of this after thinking about it some more

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rhea

    I picked this book up because the myth of Hades and Persephone is my favorite and any retelling is typically going to be interesting. The concept of this book, a female!Hades is wonderful and original but it goes downhill from there. The book itself feels strangely paced with some parts too rushed and other details just repeating themselves. One way to make your reader feel like they're trapped in the underworld too is just reiterating the same lines and concepts over and over. Yup, there's dead I picked this book up because the myth of Hades and Persephone is my favorite and any retelling is typically going to be interesting. The concept of this book, a female!Hades is wonderful and original but it goes downhill from there. The book itself feels strangely paced with some parts too rushed and other details just repeating themselves. One way to make your reader feel like they're trapped in the underworld too is just reiterating the same lines and concepts over and over. Yup, there's dead people. Yup, it's dark and gloomy. Yup, Zeus is a pain in the butt and terrible and Persephone hates him. We get it, let's move on with the plot. Speaking of the plot, it's easy to tell where the author had to change a lot of details to suit their retelling. That's fine, but some of those details made no sense or it was such a bizarre and predictable plot line that the book didn't feel fresh and original. Just a sappy romance that happened to be myth based. (view spoiler)[The original myth is based in a lot of symbolism which makes it prime material for a retelling. However, a lot of the original myth seemed to be pushed to the side. The pomegranate is there, but it serves no actual purpose besides taking part in a wedding. By the epilogue it's explained that Persephone spends half the year above ground, and half below but we never learn why. According to this version, Persephone only returned to the living because Zeus was threatening Demeter. Yet Demeter was happy that her daughter found happiness in the underworld. So why the split year? Why is Demeter such a pushover when she's one of the Big Six? And honestly? What was Pallas doing there? Her character made no sense and didn't seem to serve a real purpose. The underworld is full of different gods, nymphs, immortal beings in general that could have replaced Pallas and would have added more depth to the story. (hide spoiler)] Honestly I only read this book because of the wlw aspect. Which is great and its refreshing to see a happy ending but, the quality doesn't come through and it becomes more disappointing the further in one gets. Wouldn't recommend it to others.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Oreotalpa

    This book should have been up my alley, but it ended up not being quite to my taste. It's beautifully written and lush, and delivers what's promised--a consensual lesbian version of the story of Persephone and Hades. But Hades was so perfect she sort of bored me, and it never quite felt Greek in any meaningful way; it felt like the framework of the story was borrowed, but it never engaged with the assumptions of Greek myth and critiqued them, it just ignored them. The characters felt more like m This book should have been up my alley, but it ended up not being quite to my taste. It's beautifully written and lush, and delivers what's promised--a consensual lesbian version of the story of Persephone and Hades. But Hades was so perfect she sort of bored me, and it never quite felt Greek in any meaningful way; it felt like the framework of the story was borrowed, but it never engaged with the assumptions of Greek myth and critiqued them, it just ignored them. The characters felt more like modern people in fancy dress than anything else. So not quite what I, personally, look for in a subverted myth retelling. But it's a good, solid book if you don't have the same expectations I do for the genre, and I hope it will help the people it's meant to help. I probably would have liked it more as a teenager. (Incidentally, the casual attitude towards homosexuality of many of the characters, and especially towards it as an identity, is modern fantasy, not ancient Greek. Which is fine--Diemer was writing fantasy, not a historical novel, and I fully support the choice to make queerness Not A Big Deal--but let's not paint the ancient Greeks as being tolerant and accepting of queer people, especially queer women. They had a lot of attitudes that are pretty appalling from a modern standpoint.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    Sorry, but I can't finish this book. I stopped at p130 - so halfway through the book - and nothing happened. Nothing. I don't really like Persephone - she lost the person she loved not so long ago but she's already over it, it's insta love between her and Hades, she's ignorant of her own world and just flat. And so is Hades. I can't believe I'm saying that, but Hades is bland. I can't give it 1 star because it's for the books I hate, and I didn't hate this one, I just didn't feel anything in part Sorry, but I can't finish this book. I stopped at p130 - so halfway through the book - and nothing happened. Nothing. I don't really like Persephone - she lost the person she loved not so long ago but she's already over it, it's insta love between her and Hades, she's ignorant of her own world and just flat. And so is Hades. I can't believe I'm saying that, but Hades is bland. I can't give it 1 star because it's for the books I hate, and I didn't hate this one, I just didn't feel anything in particular. 1.75

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