The fourth book in O’Connor’s Olympians series retells the myth of Hades and Persephone as a dramatic, romantic saga of a controlling parent and a rebellious daughter. Although a more family friendly version than the darker source material, O’Connor’s version is still set in ancient Greece and opens with an introduction to the realm of the dead that sets a fittingly grand tone for the narrative. Hades, the lord of the dead, is a lonely ruler of the realm of mortals’ souls while the other Greek gods joyously celebrate on Mount Olympus. One of the most celebrated is Demeter, goddess of agriculture and also mother to Kore, a daughter tired of being kept away from anything that could possibly do her harm. When Kore wanders off, she’s kidnapped by Hades, who showers her with gifts and promises to make her his queen. Kore slowly begins to enjoy her newfound luxury, changing her name to Persephone, even as Demeter frantically searches for her daughter and becomes so distraught she allows the crops of mortals to wither and die. O’Connor’s brand of classical mythology for modern sensibilities serves as a good introduction to the gods and settings of the Greek myths. Ages 9–14. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
At the beginning of the story the reader is told what it is like to be dead. It is stressed that after death a coin should have been put inside the mouth in order to pay to go down the river where everything will be made clear and everything will be forgotten. Without the coin, the person must wait a hundred years on the bank of the Styx. Under the earth is a place where spirits are waiting for the end of time. The ruler of this place is Hades and everything is fine until he decides to marry. This truly complicates matters and everything goes wild. It is the fourth in the acclaimed "Olympians" series. The writing is well done, the story line is interesting and moves quickly, the characters are colorful, and this adventure is exciting. At the end of the book, the author includes a page of Author's Notes where he explains that Hades is really not an Olympian and that the book is really about Persephone. There are two pages about Hades and other facts including information about plants, Roman names, and other interesting facts. There are several pages that give the page numbers and the panels which explain the storyline more fully, and finally, there are discussion questions. The books will be enjoyed best if read in the proper order. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
From the Publisher
"An outstanding addition to a first-rate series."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"O’Connor’s brand of classical mythology for modern sensibilities serves as a good introduction to the gods and settings of the Greek myths."
"The writing is well done, the story line is interesting and moves quickly, the characters are colorful, and this adventure is exciting."
"O'Connor's artwork remains as strong as ever, especially in the glorious illustrations of the underworld."
"Atmospheric, with descriptions and images of the Underworld that are so captivating that readers will pore over those pages again and again. O'Connor's illustrations, filled with lots of color and haunting illuminations, are well suited to this exciting story and will attract even the most reluctant readers."
School Library Journal
VOYA - Mark Flowers
Despite the title, and breaking from his usual custom of combining multiple myths about his title god, this newest entry in O'Connor's fabulous Olympians series is actually a retelling of Persephone's abduction. The decision to use a single myth pays off enormously: instead of grappling with multiple, sometimes contradictory, stories, O'Connor focuses on developing characters and themes. By reorganizing the details of the story, O'Connor keeps the main lines of this beautifully simple creation myth while subtly transforming it into a multi-layered modern narrative, complete with mystery, romance, and pathos. Moving the timing of one crucial event, for example, changes the motivations of several characters, adding multiple levels of betrayal and manipulation. In this version, Kore (Persephone's pre-abduction name) loves her mother, Hestia, but feels trapped. Her abduction becomes a chance for her to find out who she wants to be, including finding love with her abductor, Hadesa love which explains for O'Connor why later Greek myths refer to Persephone only as Queen of the Underworld, never mentioning her time on Olympus. If there is a flaw, it is O'Connor's uneven sense of dialogue; but since this unevenness errs on the side of colloquial speech, it is unlikely to bother the young teens of the target audience who may find it more approachable. O'Connor's artwork remains as strong as ever, especially in the glorious illustrations of the underworld. It is hard to imagine later books in the series surpassing this one, but O'Connor seems to have new surprises each time out. Reviewer: Mark Flowers
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—O'Connor explores the story of overprotective Demeter; her spirited daughter, Kore (aka Persephone); and Hades, Lord of the Dead. This retelling will encourage readers to think about these characters' motivations, see how and why each of them was conflicted, and empathize with their struggles. This book is atmospheric, with descriptions and images of the Underworld that are so captivating that readers will pore over those pages again and again. O'Connor's illustrations, filled with lots of color and haunting illuminations, are well suited to this exciting story and will attract even the most reluctant readers. Several resources for curious readers, including an Olympian family tree, character profiles, endnotes, and lists of recommended books and websites, are included. An author's note explains that it's technically Demeter, not Hades, who is the Olympian, but since the story is about three mythical characters, he decided to put Hades front and center because he would be the biggest draw.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
A tempestuous mother-daughter relationship makes up the centerpiece of O'Connor's latest carefully researched and simultaneously fresh and funny Olympian portrait. Snatched down to the Underworld in the wake of a screaming fight with her mother Demeter ("Butt out of my life!!" "You ungrateful brat"), raging adolescent Kore (meaning, generically "The Maiden") initially gives her quiet, gloomy captor Hades a hard time too. After grabbing the opportunity to give herself a thorough makeover and changing her name to Persephone ("Bringer of Destruction"), though, she takes charge of her life--so surely that, when offered the opportunity to return to her remorseful mom, she lies about having eaten those pomegranate seeds so she can spend half of each year as Queen of the Dead. O'Connor expertly captures both the dramatic action and each character's distinct personality--Demeter in particular, with her big hair and temper to match, is a real piece of work--in easy-to-follow graphic panels. Effortlessly folding in other familiar and not-so-familiar tales of figures associated with his title character, he opens with an eerie guided tour of Hades' realm, closes with fact boxes about each of the major players and in between ingeniously preserves the old tale's archetypal quality without ever losing sight of its human dimension. An outstanding addition to a first-rate series. (notes, study questions, resource lists) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)