Book Review: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

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I read this book over the course of a day of travel. I was early to the airport, had a flight delay, and then a 1.5 hour flight to get some serious reading done – and I’m a pretty fast reader, so I got through all of The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer. It’s a lesbian retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth, casting Hades as a goddess rather than a god. It’s a pretty easy read and enjoyable. I’m a big fan of revisionist mythologies so this was sort of my wheelhouse. I found this retelling was a fresh take on the premise.11672159

There are two things that I took away from the story: first was the manipulation of the mythological narrative and second was the effect of writing from the 1st person POV of Persephone. I think that the mythological aspects were really well executed. There’s always the question of how to deal with the more obscene elements of mythology in a more updated retelling – particularly the rape and coercion by the gods and Zeus in particular. Diemer effectively turned the king of the gods into a villain which I see as a really valid interpretation. It worked well.

Writing in 1st person gave an interesting perspective on the story, but as I saw some other reviewers had mentioned on goodreads, there was a little tendency to wax poetic about how lovely and flawless Hades was. I didn’t find this detracted from the story but I can see how other readers might feel that way about it. I think that as we are reading from the perspective of (essentially) a teenage girl, this kind of flowery romantic imagery is understandable – I mean, just think about Persephone’s character. She is the youngest of the gods and in a relatively unique situation, and though Hades is not her first love you can see the immaturity and young-love motif come through in these sections. Additionally I thought the more steamy scenes were well handled and rather abstract, which suited both the naivety of the character and the myth aesthetic.

Overall a great read. My Kobo did something strange with the numbering so I thought I was drawing near the close of the book, but I suddenly entered into a second numbering section when I reached it. I think I’m just a bit new to the device still. I picked the book up on the Kobo marketplace but it is also available on Amazon.

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