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A Touch of Malice by Scarlett St. Clair, takes place a little while after the events of A Touch of Ruin. Persephone now has to deal with the aftermath of her mother’s reaction to her engagement to Hades. Not to mention she’s still figuring out her magic and herself. Not to mention consequences from things that happened in the previous book. According to the author’s guide, this is the last book from Persephone’s POV, the book that takes place after this will be a dual perspective between Hades and Persephone. I won’t share too many spoilers for the book, but I did want to share some thoughts.
Persephone’s relationship with Hades has gone public and the resulting media storm disrupts her normal life and Persephone and Hades are engaged. In retaliation, Demeter summons a snowstorm that cripples New Greece, and refuses to lift the blizzard unless her daughter calls off her engagement.
When the Olympians intervene, Persephone finds her future in the hands of ancient gods, and they are divided. Do they allow Persephone to marry Hades and go to war with Demeter or prohibit their union and take up arms against the God of the Dead?
Nothing is certain but the promise of war.
- Published: May 25, 2021
- Page Count: 418 pages
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
Review of A Touch of Malice
There are three main things A Touch of Malice resolves around plot wise. Since none of them reveal any real spoilers, they are the following:
- Zeus’s approval of Hades and Persephone getting married.
- Demeter plunging New Greece into winter during the middle of summer.
- Mortal/Demi-Gods wanting to overthrow the gods.
The last one, I was honestly surprised became something Persephone’s POV focused on. Especially considering that seemed to be more of Hades’s POV based on A Game of Fate. The events of that book become serious mentions through the course of A Touch of Malice. From the favor that Thesus extracted from Hades in exchange for helping him capture a relic that made the Fates threaten to remove Persephone from Hades’s life. To various items that came up in that book like the Chains of Truth. I figured that would be something covered in the third book from Hades’s POV. But it was interesting to see Persephone handle that. Plus, it allowed for a lot of character growth. One she needed.
This makes me wonder what the third Hades’s book is going to focus on. As I know the second (A Game of Retribution) is on a set of labors Hera wants Hades to perform. Which I know plays into the third plot point of this book. I was a little surprised to learn that especially since the book with that information isn’t coming out until September 2021. It seems like something that should be seen before not after since Hera wants to overthrow Zeus. I don’t feel this is a spoiler since it’s the synopsis of that A Game of Retribution, though it kind of is for A Touch of Malice.
It’s not a surprise that Zeus approves their marriage. That is something straight out of Greek mythology. Though his condition was surprising. Not really a spoiler since it’s a topic mentioned in the previous books. Zeus does not want Persephone and Hades to have children. Something that Hades literally is incapable of after bargaining away that ability to the Fates. Since the child would be Zeus’s downfall according to his oracle. Though Zeus approves, he almost immediately changed his tune after Persephone displayed her powers. Granted, it was too late stop her and Hades from marrying (again Greek mythology not really a spoiler). But I’m curious what’s going to become of that situation in the dual POV book. Since it wasn’t a simple “oh I changed my mind.” No. Things happened.
On another note, the romance is back in this book, especially since Hades and Persephone don’t spend any significant time apart. There’s still growth in their relationship, and the two actually communicate for once. So, you can see them in a more stable, healthy relationship for once. If you missed the smut in A Touch of Ruin it’s back in spades in A Touch of Malice. Plus, exploration of other types of sexual activities. Making this book more spicy/adult compared to the previous, though not in the language used. That’s still pretty mild all things considered.
There are other things that happen in the book as well. Persephone learns her powers on a more active basis. There’s a good segment focused on her job now that she’s gone out on her own. Mostly that she gets an office, and her relationship with Helen. I won’t spoil what happens, but it does play into the main plot of the book especially regarding Persephone’s identity as she continues her masquerade of being mortal. Though we see her going to work, it’s not the main focus as it was in the previous two books. Honestly, I don’t know if her blog has published anything other than her engagement announcement. That’s how not focused the book is towards her job. Versus the previous ones where we knew exactly every article she published.
Overall, I would give this book a 3.75 out of 5-star rating. I think this book was executed wonderfully. There was a lot of personal growth for Persephone. She’s not going to sit around and let Hades or some other god take care of things. She’s finally come into her own. Now what that means for the Olympians remains to be seen. Considering literally war has started by the conclusion of the book with gods, mortals, and demi-gods drawing lines in the sand. I won’t say which side everyone ends up on, but the book leaves off on a pretty big cliffhanger. Unlike the previous books where there was a happy (happy-ish) ending with a little snippet of what came over or a moment of peace for the main characters. A Touch of Malice does not have that.
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