Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - first book of duology
Deina is trapped. As one of the Soul Severers serving the god Hades on earth, her future is tied to the task of shepherding the dying on from the mortal world – unless she can earn or steal enough to buy her way out.
Then the tyrant ruler Orpheus offers both fortune and freedom to whoever can retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld. Deina jumps at the chance. But to win, she must enter an uneasy alliance with a group of fellow Severers she neither likes nor trusts.
So begins their perilous journey into the realm of Hades. . . The prize of freedom is before her – but what will it take to reach it?
Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
The Corrs’ latest outing is a Greek Mythology-filled fest about freedom and fighting for your own path, all while trekking through the underworld in a clever take on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth.
All sorts of Greek mythology related to the underworld are woven together into this dark, perilous journey. From physical barriers like the truly chilling interpretation of the various rivers to monsters chasing the crew, it’s not an easy journey Deina has embarked on. It’s a quest, basically (which I love) through the land of death where everything is trying to kill them – and they can’t trust those around them either.
Everyone has secrets (some they don’t even know themselves) and plans of their own for how they want their lives to go. And those plans don’t necessarily work well alongside others’. It makes for a tense, untrusting group (and thus the challenges they face are even harder as they can’t work well when expecting a dagger in the back!) I loved how the bulk of the secrets and plans tumbled out right when it felt like they might just have a chance of getting on and getting out alive (because, of course, it would not be a book by the Corrs if there weren’t a few highly devastating deaths and betrayals.)
And if that wasn’t enough, there are gods and other creatures meddling. From the very fun Hades who is frankly there to stir trouble and doesn’t care about anything else, to the mysterious Nat (LOVED that reveal), and the uncaring Charon, there are plenty of powerful beings who are going to help and hinder in equal measure. And never accept any bargain they make…
The non-underworld world is set in a fantasy Ancient Greece where the Mycenaeans civilisation didn’t fall and some people are marked by the gods for service. The indenture’s physical marking of the people as they undertake the various acts of “service” that count down their indenture is a particularly nice (in an awful sort of way) touch – even if they complete their indenture before they go mad, they have a permanent reminder of what they’ve done etched into their skin. There are other unpleasant rituals (like a boat launching over people’s bodies) to make the world of the tyrant Orpheus particularly brutal (and thus you want Deina to find a way to escape all the more.)
The ending is very much a “how could you leave it there?” one, where Deina has got some of what she wants, ending the book in a way that shows how much she’s grown across the story. Except that final act comes with consequences that she’s going to have to face (and outsmart) in the second book.
Read my reviews of other books by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr:
A Throne of Swans:
The Witch’s Kiss: