The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test

4.4 505
by Aimée Carter

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It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she

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It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Carter's first YA novel, the Greek pantheon isn't just down to Earth, it's occupying Eden, Mich., and attending high school. Kate Winters doesn't notice anything special about classmates Ava, James, and Dylan, but pale-eyed Henry gets her attention when he appears to resurrect Ava from the dead after a malicious prank goes horribly wrong. Kate can't quite believe that Henry is the god of the underworld, as he claims, but she also can't dismiss him. Kate's mother is dying of cancer, and Kate is willing to grasp at anything that might win her one more loving maternal conversation. The bargain she strikes with Henry is a grim one, but the full enormity of what she has undertaken—"live forever or die trying"—is not revealed until it's too late to recant. Carter wears her influences openly, with many passages reading like outtakes from Robin McKinley's Beauty by way of Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Nevertheless, the narrative is well executed, and Kate is a heroine better equipped than most to confront and cope with the inexplicable. Ages 13�18. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—To fulfill her dying mother's request, Kate Winters and her mom move from New York City to Eden, MI, where Kate will finish her senior year and her mother will live out her last days. Though her primary concern is spending time with her mother, Kate attracts the attention of several of the students in her small high school, including mean girl Ava. When a prank on Kate backfires, resulting in Ava's death, Kate makes a deal with the mysterious Henry in order to save Ava's life, which ultimately results in Kate agreeing to spend each autumn and winter with him at Eden Manor. There, she discovers that Henry is actually Hades, who has been looking for a suitable replacement to co-rule the underworld ever since Persephone left. The only problem is that the prior 11 candidates have all died trying to pass the tests set up by the council of deities, and Kate is Henry's last chance to remain alive as ruler. Though most of the characters are not as well developed as Kate, it is obvious that her mother's long battle with cancer has prepared her for the tests she is to face and the possibility of co-ruling the underworld. Carter's liberal take on the myth of Hades and Persephone is unique. Many girls will be drawn to Kate's budding romance with the brooding Henry in this evenly paced paranormal romance.—Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ
Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
The prologue introduces a deadly conspiracy, and a decision that a child will be brought into the world for a special person. Then we encounter Kate on her 18th birthday driving her dying Mom, and the closest friends she's ever had, to her childhood home, Eden. Kate's a spunky heroine, but the sudden apparition of a cow, or perhaps a dark-haired boy, in the middle of the road shakes her to the core. Then she faces nightmares and her mother's slow death as she tries to make friends in a new situation. Ava, the It girl of the high school, persuades her to come to a party, a trick that ends in Ava's death by hitting her head on a rock. The dark-haired Henry, accompanied by the Black Dane Cerberus, resuscitates Ava and returns Kate to her home. Kate makes friends with James, who seems to care for her, and life just becomes more confusing. Kate is tricked once again into moving to the mysterious estate in Eden with Henry and his household as a trade for her mother's life, or at least her appearance in dreams. Then we see the peg to myth: Kate will be tested for the goddess role as she spends the next six months in exile. As her relationships develop, she keeps waiting for the tests, but it's not until she's attacked by a goddess girl that she begins to discover which of her lives, exile to Eden or exile to high school, is illusion...or perhaps she doesn't. The next book may tell. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
Kirkus Reviews
Propelled by its high concept—ancient Greek deities, reality TV plot—this romance-series debut starts promisingly but soon sinks into a queasy blend of genres with cardboard characters and interchangeable deities. Manhattanite Kate Winters, 18, has relocated to Eden, Mich., where her ailing mother wants to live out her last days in her hometown. At her new school, Kate encounters two instantly besotted guys and one jealous mean girl, Ava, who abruptly dies in a freak accident on the way to a party she's manipulated Kate into attending. Enter the mysterious Henry, aka Hades, who offers to restore Ava to life if Kate will take his ex-wife Persephone's place. Having inexplicably bonded with vapid Ava, Kate agrees, although it means spending six months a year in the underworld. Her light sentence is carried out in a halfway house between worlds, where she enjoys dressing up, being waited on, taking Greek Deities 101 and falling for the tortured Henry. But it's not all guys and parties; Kate must pass seven pantheon-administered "tests" in order to win the prize (Henry and immortality); if she loses, Henry will fade. That plus agonizing over whether he loves her occupy her abundant spare time. Better takes on this familiar paradigm abound.(Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Publication date:
Goddess Test Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I spent my eighteenth birthday driving from New York City to Eden, Michigan, so my mother could die in the town where she was born. Nine hundred and fifty-four miles of asphalt, knowing every sign we passed brought me closer to what would undoubtedly be the worst day of my life.

As far as birthdays go, I wouldn't recommend it.

I drove the whole way. My mother was too sick to stay awake for very long, let alone drive, but I didn't mind. It took two days, and an hour after we'd crossed the bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan, she looked exhausted and stiff from being in the car for so long, and if I never saw a stretch of open road again, it'd be too soon.

"Kate, turn off here."

I gave my mother a funny look, but turned my blinker on anyhow. "We're not supposed to exit the freeway for another three miles."

"I know. I want you to see something."

Sighing inwardly, I did as she said. She was already on borrowed time, and the chances of her having an extra day to see it later were slim.

There were pine trees everywhere, tall and looming. I saw no signs, no mile markers, nothing but trees and dirt road. Five miles in, I began to worry. "You're sure this is right?"

"Of course I'm sure." She pressed her forehead to the window, and her voice was so soft and broken that I could barely understand her. "It's just another mile or so."

"What is?"

"You'll see."

After a mile, the hedge started. It stretched down the side of the road, so high and thick that seeing what was on the other side was impossible, and it must've been another two miles before it veered off at a right angle, forming some kind of boundary line. The entire time we drove by, Mom stared out the window, enraptured.

"This is it?" I didn't mean to sound bitter, but Mom didn't seem to notice.

"Of course it isn't—turn left up here, sweetie."

I did as I was told, guiding the car around the corner. "It's nice and all," I said carefully, not wanting to upset her, "but it's just a hedge. Shouldn't we go find the house and—"

"Here!" The eagerness in her weak voice startled me. "Right up there!"

Craning my neck, I saw what she was talking about. Set in the middle of the hedge was a black wrought-iron gate, and the closer we got to it, the bigger it seemed to grow. It wasn't just me—the gate was monstrous. It wasn't there to look pretty. It was there to scare the living daylights out of anyone who thought about opening it.

I slowed to a stop in front of it, trying to look between the bars, but all I could see were more trees. The land seemed to dip in the distance, but no matter how I craned my neck, I couldn't see what lay beyond it.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Her voice was airy, almost light, and for a moment, she sounded like her old self. I felt her hand slip into mine, and I squeezed hers as much as I dared. "It's the entrance to Eden Manor."

"It looks.. .big," I said, mustering up as much enthusiasm as I could. I wasn't very successful. "Have you ever been inside?"

It was an innocent question, but the look she gave me made me feel like the answer was so obvious that even though I'd never heard of this place, I should have known.

A moment later, she blinked, and the look was gone. "Not in a very long time," she said hollowly, and I bit my lip, regret-ting whatever it was I'd done to break the magic for her. "I'm sorry, Kate, I just wanted to see it. We should keep going."

She let go of my hand, and I was suddenly keenly aware of how cool the air was against my palm. As I pressed the accelerator, I slipped my hand back into hers, not wanting to let go yet. She said nothing, and when I glanced at her, she was resting her head against the glass once more.

Half a mile down the road, it happened. One moment the road was clear, and the next a cow was in the road not fifteen feet in front of us, blocking the way.

I slammed on the brakes and twisted the wheel. The car spun a full circle, throwing my body sideways. My head hit the window as I fought for control of the car, but it was useless. I might as well have been trying to get it to fly for all the good I was doing.

We skidded to a stop, miraculously missing the tree line. My pulse raced, and I took great gulps of air, trying to calm myself down. "Mom?" I said frantically.

Beside me, she shook her head. "I'm fine. What hap¬pened?"

"There's a—" I stopped, focusing on the road again. The cow was gone.

Confused, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a figure standing in the middle of the road, a dark-haired boy around my age wearing a black coat that fluttered in the breeze. I frowned, twisting around to try to get a proper look out the back window, but he was gone.

Had I imagined it then? I winced and rubbed my sore head. Hadn't imagined that part.

"Nothing," I said shakily. "I've just been driving too long, that's all. I'm sorry."

As I cautiously urged the car forward, I looked in the rearview mirror one last time. Hedge and empty road. I gripped the wheel tightly with one hand and reached out to take hers again with my other, futilely trying to forget the image of the boy now burned into my brain.

The ceiling in my bedroom leaked. The real estate agent who'd sold us the house, sight unseen, had sworn up and down there was nothing wrong with it, but apparently the jerk had been lying.

All I did after we arrived was unpack the essentials we'd need for the night, including a pot to catch the dripping water. We hadn't brought much, just whatever could fit into the car, and I'd already had a set of secondhand furniture delivered to the house.

That night, my nightmares were relentless and full of cows with red eyes, rivers of blood, and water that rose around me until I woke up gasping. I pushed the blanket off me and wiped my clammy forehead, afraid I'd woken my mother, but she was still asleep.

Even though I didn't sleep well, I couldn't take the next day off. It was my first day at Eden High, which was a brick building that looked more like a large barn than a school. There were hardly enough students to bother building one in the first place, let alone keep it running. Enrolling had been my mother's idea; after I'd missed my senior year to take care of her, she was determined to make sure I graduated.

I drove my car into the parking lot two minutes after the first bell rang. Mom had gotten sick that morning, and I didn't trust the nurse, a round, matronly woman named Sofia, to take care of her properly. Not that there was anything particularly menacing about her, but I'd spent most of the past four years caring for my mother, and as far as I was concerned, no one else could do it right. I'd nearly skipped to stay home with her, but my mother had insisted I go. As difficult as the day had been so far, I was certain it was about to get worse.

At least I wasn't alone in the walk of shame through the parking lot. Halfway to the building, I noticed a boy following me. He couldn't have been old enough to drive, and his white-blond hair stuck out almost as much as his overgrown ears did. Judging from his cheery expression, he couldn't have cared less that he was late.

He dashed forward to reach the front door before I did, and much to my surprise, he held it open for me. I couldn't think of a single guy at my old school who would've done that.

"After you, mademoiselle"

Mademoiselle? I stared at the ground to avoid giving him an odd look. No use in being rude the first day.

"Thanks," I mumbled, stepping inside and walking faster. He was taller than me though, and he caught up in no time. Much to my horror, instead of passing me, he slowed so we were walking together.

"Do I know you?"

Oh, God. Did he expect me to answer? Luckily, he didn't seem to, as he didn't give me a chance to respond. "I don't know you." Brilliant observation, Einstein. "I should know you."

Right outside the office, he swung around, placing himself between me and the entrance. Sticking out a hand, he looked at me expectantly.

"I'm James," he said, and I finally got a good look at his face. Still boyish, but maybe he was older than I thought. His features were hardened, more mature than I'd expected. "James MacDuffy. Laugh, and I'll be forced to hate you."

Seeing no other choice, I forced a small smile and took his hand. "Kate Winters."

He stared at me for longer than was strictly necessary, a goofy grin on his face. As the seconds ticked by, I stood there, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, and finally I cleared my throat.

"Er—could you maybe…?"

"What? Oh." James dropped my hand and opened the door, once again holding it open for me. "After you, Kate


I stepped inside, drawing my messenger bag closer. Inside

the office was a woman dressed head to toe in blue, with sleek auburn hair I'd have given my right foot to have. "Hi, I'm—"

"—Kate Winters," interrupted James, falling into place next to me. "I don't know her."

The receptionist managed to simultaneously sigh and laugh. "What is it this time, James?"

"Flat tire." He grinned. "Changed it myself."

She scribbled on a pink pad of paper, then tore off the sheet and handed it to him. "You walk."

"Do I?" His grin widened. "Y'know, Irene, if you keep doubting me like this, I'm going to start thinking you don't like me anymore. Same time tomorrow?"

She chuckled, and finally James disappeared. I refused to watch him go, instead staring down at an announcement taped to the counter. Apparently Picture Day was in three weeks.

"Katherine Winters," said the woman—Irene—once the office door closed. "We've been expecting you."

She busied herself looking through a file, and I stood there awkwardly, wishing there was something to say. I wasn't much of a talker, but I could at least carry on a conversation. Some¬times. "You have a pretty name."

She raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows. "Do I? I'm glad you think so. I rather like it myself. Ah, here we go." She pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to me. "Your schedule, as well as a map of the school. Shouldn't be too hard to find—the hallways are color-coded, and if you get lost, just ask. We're all nice enough around here."

I nodded, taking note of my first class. Calculus. Joy.


"Anytime, dear."

I turned to leave, but as my hand touched the doorknob, she cleared her throat.

"Miss Winters? I just—I wanted to say I'm sorry. About your mother, I mean. I knew her a very long time ago, and—well. I'm very sorry."

I closed my eyes. Everyone knew. I didn't know how, but they knew. My mother said her family had lived in Eden for generations, and I'd been stupid to think that I could get away with coming here unnoticed.

Blinking back tears, I turned the knob and hurried out of the office, keeping my head down in hopes that James wouldn't try to talk to me again.

Just as I turned the corner, I ran directly into what felt like a wall. I stumbled to the ground, the contents of my bag spilling out everywhere. My cheeks burned, and I tried to collect my things as I mumbled an apology.

"Are you okay?"

I looked up. The human wall stared down at me, and I found myself face-to-face with a varsity football jacket. Apparently James and I weren't the only ones running late that morning.

"I'm Dylan." He knelt next to me, offering me a hand. I only took it long enough to sit up.

"Kate," I said. He handed me my notebooks, and I snatched them from him, shoving them back into my bag. Two textbooks and five folders later, I stood and brushed off my jeans. That was when I noticed that he was cute. Not just in Eden, but cute by New York standards, too. Even so, there was something about the way he looked at me that made me want to pull away.

Before I could do just that, a pretty blonde girl attached herself to his side and gave me a once-over. She might've been smiling, but with the way she was leaning against him and

clutching his arm, she might as well have peed on him. He was clearly marked territory.

"Who's your friend, Dylan?" she said, tightening her grip.

Dylan looked at her blankly, and it took him a moment before he wrapped his arm around her. "Uh, Kate. She's new."

Her fake smile grew, and she stuck out her hand. "Kate! I'm Ava. I've heard so much about you. My father, he's a real estate agent, told me all about you and your mom."

At least now I had someone to blame for the leak in my room. "Hi, Ava," I said, biting the bullet and taking her hand. "It's nice to meet you."

Everything about the way she looked at me screamed she wanted nothing more than to take me out into the woods and bury me alive. "It's a pleasure to meet you, too."

"What's your first class?" said Dylan, craning his neck to look at my schedule. "Calculus. I—we can show you where that is, if you'd like."

I opened my mouth to object, figuring there was no reason to tempt fate more than I already was by continuing the conversation now that Ava was here, but before I could say a word, he took me by the elbow and paraded me down the hall. I looked at Ava, about to apologize for hijacking her boyfriend, but when I saw the flush of red on her cheeks and the clench of her delicate jaw, the words died on the tip of my tongue.

Maybe my mother would outlive me after all.

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