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I have been fascinated by Greek mythology since I was in high school. One of the stories that intrigued me was the tale of Hades, the God of the Dead/Underworld, and Persephone, the Goddess of Spring. So, when I learned there was a modern retelling of their story by Scarlett St. Clair called A Touch of Darkness, I wanted to check it out.
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.
- Published: June 20, 2019
- Page Count: 353 pages
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
Review of A Touch of Darkness
A Touch of Darkness is solely from Persephone’s POV as she winds up gambling with Hades, which forces her into a contract where he gives her a six-month challenge of creating life in the Underworld. If she doesn’t manage to complete the contract, then she will be forced to live in the Underworld for the rest of her lifetime. And considering she’s a goddess that’s forever. So, Persephone sets out to figure out how to accomplish this task as well as expose Hades through her intern job at New Athens News.
Persephone is also forbidden from having contact with any god especially Hades, as Demeter (her mother) has kept Persephone hidden from the other gods. No one knows the Goddess of Spring exists. Well, they know Demeter has a daughter but that’s it. Persephone’s own magic hasn’t made an appearance so she has to borrow magic from her mother in other to live in the mortal world. Something she had to fight tooth and nail to get even a slice of freedom from her overly controlling mother. Which I find interesting how they handled that relationship. It is very true to the mythology that Demeter was overbearing, to say the least.
Instead of Hades kidnapping Persephone like in the mythology, Hades has his bet with Persephone. And the two fall in love during the course of the six months that Persephone has to work in the Underworld trying to create life. There’s more there that I’m not going to spoil. But it reflects the original tale to some extent. In the original tale, Persephone was kidnapped to the Underworld after Hades fell in love with her while she was picking flowers (book Persephone kills any plants including flowers she touches). There the two are married (she doesn’t marry Hades in the book but the souls do call her queen) after Hades got permission from Zeus (Persephone’s father though I’m not sure if that’s the case in the book, her father isn’t talked about). He treated her with compassion and admired her. Demeter is furious that her daughter is missing and turns the world barren (reflected in the book by Persephone’s touch to plants resulting in them dying). Demeter learns from Zeus where Persephone is and demands her return (book Demeter demands that Persephone is released from her contract which Hades refuses as its in the hands of the Fates). Hades refuses, but rather than the world dying Zeus makes Hades release Persephone to Demeter (book Demeter does not have Zeus interfering with the affair). Before she leaves, Hades gives her a pomegranate which she eats six of the seeds which means she has to remain in the underworld as Hades’ Queen at least six months of the year. This is why we have seasons, every time Persephone returns to Hades we get Winter as Demeter grieves for the absence of her daughter. Now that’s not quite how the end of the book goes, but I’m not going to share spoilers on how the book handles that.
As for the romance between the two it’s definitely NA (new adult), though I can’t say it’s the spiciest I’ve ever read. But it’s more descriptive than YA (young adult). And there’s plenty of it throughout A Touch of Darkness.
Honestly, this book could’ve been a one-off, standalone and it would be good. I haven’t read the rest of the series as there are going to be many more involving Hades and Persephone, along with books in Hades POV and a dual POV. Most of the books haven’t been released yet. So, I’m curious where they will go. As the story more or less wraps up in the first book. There are avenues to explore like Persephone being the Goddess of Spring, and the other gods and public don’t know about her. But plot-wise, Hades and Persephone are together and the main conflict of the book is resolved.
Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one night. It didn’t quite crack it into my favorite books of all time, but it was a great read. This is why I would give A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair a 3.75 out of 5-star rating.
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