I'm one of the few people who never got around to reading Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood, though I do have a copy and will read it...someday. Initially, it wasn't really on my radar, because horror isn't something I seek out, but the reviews convinced me. Antigoddess, however, was a topic that called my name and I was hopeless to resist that call, much like Odysseus and the sirens. Thankfully, Kendare Blake lived up to all the hype, and Antigoddess was a non-stop horrorshow and thrill ride.
Antigoddess is one of those books where the reader basically has no idea what is happening at any point. To predict the outcome, you'd basically need to be a prophetess like Cassandra. Sometimes, I hate this in books, especially in mysteries, but with Antigoddess it works. That feeling of being out of your element and out of control really plays into the mythology, the fact that these gods, even diminished are really beyond our ken. Though I don't mind predictable formulas (like romances and their inevitable HEAs), Antigodess was a refreshing change, because I had zero clue how it would end at any point, and have even less idea what will go down in book two.
I am all about Greek mythology, and, while Blake's interpretation might not exactly be canon, it's mindblowingly cool and creepy. So the Greek gods have basically continued existing and doing their things, blending in with humans or running around in non-populated places, whatever they want. But then, dun dun dun, they began to die. Obviously, they're not super thrilled about this because 1) they're supposed to be immortal and 2) they're dying in really nasty ways. Like Athena getting slowly smothered to death by owl feathers growing inside of her body. Anyway, Athena and Hermes are trying to figure out a way to stop dying, and so are some other gods (most importantly Hera and Poseidon) and they're all also at war. There are also so humans involved and it's all just nuts in the most awesome sort of way.
What really makes me squee about Blake's world building is how empowering it is for women. Yes, there were always female gods, and some of them are quite powerful, but, in Greek mythology, the dude's are still really running the show. In Antigoddess, though several male gods are present, it's the women who are running the show, specifically Athena and Hera. Hermes defers to Athena, for example, and Poseidon to Hera. In the original mythology, Hera is powerful, but mostly just gets to be cuckolded over and over, without any ability to prevent Zeus from sleeping around and then punishing the girl, who, often, Zeus even raped. Hera still may not come out of this smelling like roses, but at least she's imbued with agency. Within the human characters too, Cassandra and Andie are exceptionally strong. Blake writes female characters who kick serious ass and have brains to back that up.
Though I didn't emotionally bond with the characters, they're all fascinating and compelling, so that even the comparatively slow beginning didn't drag for me in the slightest. Also, good news for those who are sick of romance dominating plot, that is not the case here. There are some ships that you can board, but they take up relatively little page time. Also, for the record, I am definitely on a couple of those ships, and got to watch the one I wasn't on sink. Mwahahaha. *high fives Kendare*
The other thing I really want to note is how well Kendare writes. I'm not a visual reader, but Blake has a way of making things very visceral, and putting definite images in my head. Very few writers can do this for me, and I'm always so impressed when it happens. Her descriptions of the feathers seeding Athena's body especially will be haunting me for a while.
The Final Verdict:
Kendare Blake's Antigoddess is a dark, creative roller coaster ride of a read. For readers who enjoy action-packed books or unique mythological retellings, particularly with a feminist bent, Antigoddess is a must.