The Goddess Test, by Aimee Carter
Kate and her mother have just relocated to Eden, Michigan, the town where her mother grew up and where she intends to die after an unsuccessful battle with cancer. Kate is having trouble coming to terms with saying goodbye, and starting over as a senior at a new school compounds her worries. Ava, the school’s resident beautiful, blonde mean-girl, has taken an instant dislike to her and plays a prank that goes horribly wrong. Ava dies, and when a mysterious man suddenly appears saying he can bring her back to life— for a price— Kate is faced with a choice. Some people would think this was a no-brainer. Ava was awful to Kate, and deserved what she got. Kate, however, is wrought over the impending death of her mother, and cannot stomach someone else dying when she could prevent it. She agrees to the strange man’s request, and Ava is alive again. What has she traded for Ava’s life? The man tells her to read the myth of Persephone, and expect a visit from him on the autumn equinox. A man who has power over life and death, and has a connection with the mythical Persephone, Queen of the Underworld…three guesses who that could be.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Hades (or Henry, as he is known in this story) has been left alone and lonely in the Underworld. He always loved Persephone more than she loved him, and finally she fell in love with a mortal and Henry had to let her go. That means he’s looking for a new companion. He’s been searching for nearly a hundred years, with no luck. Love in the Underworld is harder to come by than it is on Earth. He’s not just looking for someone to love him and put up with him, he needs to find someone who can pass the seven tests, and gain the approval of the council. Eleven girls have tried, and none have succeeded. “Some of them went mad. Others were sabotaged. None of them reached the end, let alone passed the tests.” Henry is asking Kate to be his last chance. He must find a Queen soon, or fade from existence. What Henry offers in exchange is the only thing that could tempt Kate. He will keep her mother alive.
Carter takes some creative license with the traditional characteristics of the Greek gods and goddesses, but the mythological elements keep the story interesting. They’re what set The Goddess Test apart from the typical boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl stories. If you’re not too much of a stickler for accuracy, fans of Greek mythology will find this an entertaining read. Check out the sequel as well, Goddess Interrupted.
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