Book review: The Dark Wife

Finished reading 07/27/17 ~ Review edited and posted 08/15/17

(Author’s more current books are published under the name of Bridget Essex, including previously reviewed short story, Sugar Moon)

Rating: 3/5

Want to round up to 5-star rating because I believe people should support more Self-pub books, especially containing F/F pairings, which are far fewer than M/M novels/novellas/erotica, but at the same time, that’s not an honest reaction.

Trigger warning for rape mention in the review.

First the good:

I love her descriptions of things and the curling flow of her narrative, the way it felt as though you were immersed in this Greek tale. I found Hades extremely mysterious and intriguing. I loved the entire IDEA behind this. I think one of my favorite scenes is actually Hades’ introduction, and then her and Persephone’s first meeting, followed closely by the scene in the field when Hades offers Persephone an alternate solution to her problem. There’s a lot of really compelling moments and scenes within the story.

Now to the bad:

I did enjoy it a lot but were I the editor there are numerous things I’d have discussed with the author as needing polishing, like that Zeus is lessened by the way her ending made him exceedingly one-dimensional and flat– and that in turn lessens the novel as a whole. He starts off horrific, but never actually has ANY motivations, goals, or personality other than “Gotta fuck/rape everything”. WHY are all the gods so terrified of him? So terrified Demeter literally freezes the world and endangers all life on Earth rather than piss him off by saying no? She basically undermines her wlw story by making it as if it’s because men are Zeus, therefore fall in love with a woman.

Secondly, Persephone falls for Hades mostly from the start. Attraction is understandable and well handled in the beginning, but that is pretty much all the author puts into it. There’s very little interaction between Hades and Persephone for them to get to know each other and for us to see WHO Hades is to fall in love with, for us to fall in love with her as Persephone does. There are moments, like Hades dancing where I was like, wait, no go back to that, because that’s interesting. The God of Death dances for fun. But no, Persephone is overwhelmed with her beauty and flees.

We don’t ever get to see the characters actually be brave, daring, or bold. We don’t see much of Hades at all, save for Persephone swooning over her, and I was sitting there thinking, “But actually tell me ABOUT HER”. The author does a lot of telling without the showing. Also, characters are emotionally moved to tears with such frequency as to make them weepy.

Persephone in mythology is sort of terrifying, with Hades being more chill and level-headed, so I really would have liked to have seen more of both ladies being the total ass-kicking badasses I’m familiar with, while simultaneously becoming unlikely friends and eventually falling in love.

I have several books I would love to recommend to the author. She has a LOT of potential, but her work is unpolished and watered down as she never creates true conflict or tension, and the closest she comes isn’t even the main threat, but an unrest among the dead. Nothing is ever clearly at stake, just a vague threat of… Zeus. And whatever it is he might do or has done to make everyone so afraid of him. Even still, there’s nothing for the characters to overcome really, not within themselves, and not in order to come together and make their relationship work, and barely anything in the final showdown of the book which was rushed, then easily and quickly fixed.

The entire ending felt rushed and vague. She spent so much time detailing other parts that it was utterly unbalanced.

THAT ALL BEING SAID! Yes, I know that sounds like a wank fest, but the things that bothered me bothered me immensely, as you might can tell.

Now that that’s out of my system, I DID enjoy the book. I really wish it could have been longer with more to actually sink my teeth into. I don’t know if the author found her own subject matter upsetting and then rushed through it because she could find no other way to deal with it?

The story is enjoyable, and I treasure it, but it could have been better with more polish and work. There’s not any character growth, just insta-love, and just… like I said, I really enjoyed reading this so very much, but at the same time want to go over it with the author with colored tabs and a pen.

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