Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1)Featured
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.
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.
However, the story went at a very slow pace. I had some trouble focusing on what was happening and it took me a while to get through. The problem most likely stems to the amount of characters the novel holds. Jumping between different characters and story lines can be time consuming and so by the time we got to the climax of the plot, the book was over. The lead up took about 17 of the 20 chapters and we only get a taste of the battle that is just beginning. I feel like there was too much time spent talking and not enough time spent doing. That being said, it was incredibly well written. Good writing can make up for so many things, and in this case, it made up for the slow pacing. The writing was very descriptive and especially gory. The author definitely did not shy away from giving us all the details. (A lot of them made me wince while reading.)
Another redeeming aspect was the overall story. It was completely original. We're not getting a retelling of a story or myth. Instead we are getting modernized and dying gods, fighting against each other to ensure their survival. Each god had an affliction that was just so creative and fitting for each iconic figure. And speaking of iconic figures, I absolutely loved that Athena was one of the main protagonists. She is hands down my favorite figure in Greek mythology. She's a goddess of battle, but she's been separated from her original world, as are all the other gods. I thought it gave her more depth and more conflict to her. The idea of setting all these gods in a modern setting and being able to see what they would have become after thousands of years is absolutely fascinating to me. And Kendare Blake did a wonderful job of reimagining each god and the other characters. The only ones I didn't care much for were Cassandra and Aidan, but I got over it. They were essential to the story.
In the end, I enjoyed the overall story and characters. The pacing is something I can look past now that the story is set up and ready for the sequel, which I will most certainly be reading along with the author's other novels. (Her gory and sometimes frightening descriptions in this book have me excited to see what she does with the horror genre.) This series definitely has promise.
Don't want to spoil anything but yes I'm anxiously waiting for he sequel now. After that ending, oh! I can't wait.
The concept of Antigoddess was intriguing, but it was the execution of it is what made it shine. Every time Athena pulled a feather through the skin in her mouth or Hermes was even described, I would cringe. Blake was able to open my imagination, and I could almost feel the feathers and emaciation. The pacing did drag some through the middle, but the ending was glorious. Blake does not hesitate in killing her characters off most gruesomely, and that is exciting in itself. There was also the mirroring of the events regarding the Trojan War that rocked my socks.
Antigoddess' characters were just as interesting as the concept. Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare, had not been worshipped in years and looked very like the typical teenage girl, right down to the purple streaks in her hair. She knew that she was dying, but was not willing to die - or even allow her brothers to, for that matter - without a fight. Watching her step minisculely away from her hardened virginal stance to open her heart was sweet to watch. Hermes was a good balance to his sister Athena's hardened nature and was much more human. Cassandra and Aiden were an abnormally well adjusted couple who were happily in love on the other side of the country. He was fully aware of her psychic abilities and supportive of them, though he was a bit boring. When these characters were brought together, it did not seem forced, and the story-lines melted together nicely.
However, despite all of these great things about Antigoddess, I never really got into it. I did not realize this until the end. The scenes at the end were well-written and exciting, but I found myself not caring about the outcome overmuch. I have been crying at the drop of a hat while reading lately, and I did not get emotional at all during the last battle in the book. This was surprising to me because I was one hundred percent into Anna Dressed in Blood.
Even though I was not caught up in the events and characters of Antigoddess, it was still an enjoyable read. I think fans of Blake's previous work and Greek mythology in general will eat up this novel. As for me, I am still interested in seeing what comes next in the Goddess War series.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.
You’ve probably seen the star rating above, but let me say it. BLAKE HAS DONE IT AGAIN.
From the story, to the writing style, to the characterization, everything is absolutely spot on. I love the way Kendare Blake is able to switch moods from humor to grim and back so effortlessly. There were moments in this book that had me smirking, laughing and others had me feeling incredibly sick.
I don’t know if it’s the way she writes or my weird imagination, but I could actually feel feathers inside my mouth and elsewhere:
“The feathers were starting to be a nuisance. There was one in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat. She chewed at it as she walked, grabbed it with her molars and pulled it loose. Warm, copper-penny blood flooded over her tongue. There were others too, sprouting up inside of her like a strange cancer, worming their way through her innards and muscle.”
Even if the reader has little knowledge of mythology, the story wouldn’t be difficult to follow. Since I had studied Greek mythology in my last semester, the family tree of the gods was still fresh in my mind. But even if it hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have had a problem following the character relations.
Antigoddess has taken these gods of ancient times and placed them in a modern setting. They are facing death, and they will do anything to stop it. At the story’s center is Athena, the virgin goddess of war and strategy and with her is Hermes, the light-footed Messenger/god of thieves. Together they go on a search to look for the prophetess who will be their weapon and will help overcome death and the bitch supreme, Hera.
Athena was never my favorite goddess, but Blake’s Athena, though rough on the edges, is someone you’ll grow to love. Hera, on the other hand, is a firm believer in ‘once a bitch, always a bitch.’ You’ll hate her at the very first instance when she enters the scene.
All the characters are well developed and believable. They all have their faults and reasons to be loved too. Hats off to Kendare for making me see some of the gods in a new light without really deviating from the hard facts.
Since this was Book 1 of a series, I knew something would go terribly wrong in the end. And I was right. The ending is a sucker-punch, but it’s the kind that has you wanting more.
If you have even the slightest interest in mythology, you should read this book. It may be a bit slow-paced, but that’s for a reason, it helps you understand all the characters and their motives.
Blake has a knack for witty dialogues and they make for an interesting read when combined with such a solid plot-line. I loved every moment of this book, and wasn’t bored for a second.