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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: Persephone's Orchard by Molly Ringle

Persephone's Orchard 
Pages: 370
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Genre: New Adult/YA; Greek Mythology
#1 in Series
The Greek gods never actually existed. Did they? Sophie Darrow finds she was wrong about that assumption when she's pulled into the spirit realm, complete with an Underworld, on her first day at college. Adrian, the mysterious young man who brought her there, simply wants her to taste a pomegranate.

Soon, though she returns to her regular life, her mind begins exploding with dreams and memories of ancient times; of a love between two Greeks named Persephone and Hades. But lethal danger has always surrounded the immortals, and now that she's tainted with the Underworld's magic, that danger is drawing closer to Sophie.

I am a huge Greek Mythology fan. Like, huuuge. And chief among my Greek mythology obsessions is the tale of Hades and Persephone; I snap up every piece of written work I can written about this interesting couple. I don't know why it's my favorite myth, but it just is. I'm always looking for new things about them and go into these novels hoping against hope they don't fall back on the same tropes that tend to fill even the worst Hades and Persephone fanfiction that can be found on the internet. (Don't get me wrong, I love angst sexual tension as much as the next gal but there's only so much I can handle of the "he abducted me for perfectly justifiable reasons but I don't trust him even though I definitely want to have sex with him oh no am I falling in love with him look at all this angst" plotlines before I have to say enough is enough.

Persephone's Orchard pleasantly--nay, fantastically--surprised me by bringing the freshest and most innovative take on Hades and Persephone (and all the Greeks gods in general) I've ever read. It does almost completely shake off the original myths, using them as a sort of bare bones structure for each god and their stories, which was a little frustrating for me as someone so well-versed in the myths. But I grew accustomed to it and in the end really quite enjoyed the changes.

On the topic of the gods, or the immortals as they're more appropriately called, I thought Molly Ringle did a brilliant job of creating the premise of them. As I said, Ringle didn't stick to the original myths but made up her own characters based off the myths but she did it in such a way that the reality of her characters became the myths. The one thing that bothered me about the immortals was that there was no explanation as to how the originals came to be. I hold my tongue from saying it was a fault of the book because that could be the grand overarching mystery the series seeks to solve, in which case I will surely be mollified. But I just hope the author doesn't plan to leave that unknown dangling there. It was very interesting to get to meet all the gods though, and not just focus on Hades and Persephone. It certainly gave the narrative, and the world, a more fleshed out feel.

Now, onto the meat and potatoes. I will start with the main characters, Sophie and Adrian. I think it would be appropriate to comment on them first individually, and then as a couple. I loved Sophie, I thought she was intelligent and strong-willed. Although some may not like how easily she went along with the situation she was placed in, I actually understood it and didn't fault her for placing her trust in Adrian so quickly. She was literally whisked into an entirely different world and made to confront things almost impossible to believe, and here's a guy who says he can explain everything. With nowhere else to turn for answers, you sorta have to trust him even if you're scared witless. Speaking of, Adrian. It's no secret I'm easily swayed by attractive boys in books and from the beginning Adrian had me. He's like a cool dork if that makes any sense. And him and Sophie together was steamy to say the least. I very much enjoyed the unfolding of their romance just as I enjoyed the unfolding of their past lives' romance as Hades and Persephone.

Perfect segue, don't you think?

Ah, Hades and Persephone. As always, infuriatingly stupid when it comes to realizing they both felt the same way and more than once I just sat there going "oh for god's sake just freaking kiss already". The way their story was told in parallel to Sophie and Adrian's worked amazingly well, and I'm quite impressed that Ringle was able to make sure the story was totally coherent and nothing got confused or jumbled. Hades isn't your the stereotypical dark, brooding, and stoic man that most retellings of his story cast him as. He's actually quite sweet and, well, quite the opposite of what you'd expect from the king of the Underworld.

I read this book in one day, that's how much I was drawn into it. Although I will warn, this is not a fast moving book in the sense of Sophie and Adrian's story. Much of it is flashbacks to Hades and Persephone, which was honestly fine with me. But if you're someone who likes a fast moving plot, this is perhaps not the book for you. Still, Ringle's skill in reimagining this old tale had me hooked. I give this book 5 stars. Can't wait for the next book!

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About the Author
Molly Ringle has been writing fiction for over twenty years. With her intense devotion to silly humor, she was especially proud to win the grand prize in the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with one (intentionally) terrible sentence. Molly grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and lives in Seattle with her husband and children. Her studies include a bachelor of arts in anthropology and a master of arts in linguistics. She was a Tri-Delta in college, in an old sorority house that was supposedly haunted, which inspired some of the central ideas for 'The Ghost Downstairs.' She also loves folklore and mythology, and is working on new novels about the Greek myths. 'Persephone's Orchard' is the first in the series. When not writing, she can often be found experimenting with fragrances, chocolate, and gardening


  1. This sounds like a really fun read! I'm the same as you, an absolute Greek Mythology lover and the Hades & Persephone story just always has so much potential I hate to see it wasted. My problem is that because I know the myths so well I don't tend to like it when they veer off too much and then not add anything new. This one sounds good though, I think I'll definitely have to check it out! Great review :)
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    1. That's the thing, the book totally did add something new to the myths! Once I got used to it the changes were really nicely thought out and executed. It's definitely a good series for a die-hard mythology lover.

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