Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darkness

4.4 35
by Emily Whitman

See All Formats & Editions

He smiles. "Hello."

It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes.

I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin.

Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful.


He smiles. "Hello."

It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes.

I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin.

Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more—something dangerous and exciting—something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself.

In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who—and what—she really is.

Editorial Reviews

Eloisa James
“A terrific story of a girl on the edge of womanhood, caught between a mother who offers no reverence and a boy who offers worship.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Whitman makes Hades and Persephone (Hadephone? Persades?) a glam celebrity couple that everyone will want to read about.”
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Whitman makes Hades and Persephone (Hadephone? Persades?) a glam celebrity couple that everyone will want to read about.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Whitman makes Hades and Persephone (Hadephone? Persades?) a glam celebrity couple that everyone will want to read about."
ALA Booklist
“A steamy coming-of-age novel laced with feminist sensibilities.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Whitman makes Hades and Persephone (Hadephone? Persades?) a glam celebrity couple that everyone will want to read about.”
Publishers Weekly

In Whitman's debut, a retelling of the Persephone myth, Persephone feels trapped by her overbearing mother, Demeter ("Mrs. Even-the-grain-greets-me-with-lowered-head"), who wants to keep Persephone a child forever, confined in a "world devoid of men." When Hades lands his chariot in her valley, Persephone is immediately attracted to him and after a brief courtship, she chooses to be his bride and queen of the underworld. Persephone is a relatable character-her first appearance as queen has her tripping in front of the entire court. Though Hades calls her powerful and she does have an impressive ability to grow plants, Persephone's relationship with him is very much that of the child bride, with Hades protecting her from knowing of the damage her mother is inflicting on earth and his allowing her to make policy changes in the underworld, rather than her doing so of her own accord. Her attempt to stop her mother's destruction has Persephone relying on those more powerful than her, in this case Zeus. Persephone's narration entertains, but overall the story does not give readers an especially strong heroine or the resonance of the original myth. Ages 14-up. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This is the mythical story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, and how she came to be Hades' bride. In this retelling of the myth, teen-aged Persephone desperately wants something to happen in her life, but her mother, who hates men and the thought of her daughter leaving her to live a separate life, refuses to allow her any real freedom. While Demeter is gone to a festival in her honor, Persephone wanders into a meadow and meets Hades, who soon professes his love and a willingness to "spring" Persephone from her gilded cage. Persephone agrees and, without another thought to her mother, leaves for the kingdom of death. While in the Underworld, Persephone meets a recently deceased mortal woman named Melita who helps Persephone tend her garden; Melita tells Persephone her story—one of love, marriage, and motherhood—and awakens in Persephone a new understanding and maturity that eventually leads her to realize that her mother is wreaking havoc on earth to convince Zeus to force Hades to give Persephone back. Persephone's voice is solid throughout the story, and her conflicts with her mother and later her husband are very typical of teens struggling to secure an identity against the powerful personalities in their lives. Persephone's naivete about her choices and her relationships lasts a bit too long, and her newfound maturity happens too quickly, but for girls interested in Greek mythology, this book will certainly please. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
VOYA - Serena Liu
Whitman introduces a unique new world; her descriptions of Demeter's vale and the Underworld abound with exquisite details that bring her world alive while anchoring it in the canon of ancient myth and culture. Whitman's plot and characterizations, however, do not meet the same standard. Most characters lack depth and complexity, and the plot remains simple, with only a few shallow conflicts presented with more pomp than their circumstances merit. Reviewer: Serena Liu, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Rebecca Moore
In the classic Greek myth of Persephone, Underworld god Hades abducts Persephone against her will. In Whitman's retelling, Demeter's daughter leaps at the chance to escape an overbearing, controlling mother who refuses to let her grow up. Life in the sunlit Underworld is more complicated than Persephone anticipated, however, and she has trouble adjusting to being a queen. She much prefers to work in her garden and talk to the mortal dead, for whom she feels an un-goddess-like sympathy. Through them, she learns of the drought and famine her mother is visiting on the earth, which Persephone realizes is a result of her own disappearance. But having forsaken earth, is there anything she can now do to save it? Whitman offers an interesting take on the myth and has a talent for lyrical descriptions that bring her worlds to life. Unfortunately the story often seems merely a vehicle for those descriptions, and what could have been an intriguing and complex tale is instead emotionally and morally simplistic. The characters are the main problem. Persephone is whiny and melodramatic, and explains—in great and unsubtle detail—every feeling and every event. Hades is almost a cipher, and their relationship is at once incomprehensible (where is their connection?) and somewhat creepy, as Persephone seems so adolescent. The absence of any sense of sexuality is also confusing, considering Persephone's reasons for leaving. With the current wealth of mythical retellings available, this version would not be a first choice. Reviewer: Rebecca Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Whitman has cleverly fit an ancient story into a trendy modern formula—a beautiful, innocent, privileged girl (Persephone) meets a powerful, wealthy bad boy (Hades). In this retelling of the myth, Persephone falls head over heels for Hades and willingly leaves her overbearing mother to become queen of the underworld. Teens will likely relate to Persephone, who cannot stand the thought of spending eternity in the prison she feels her mother has constructed for her, and her transformation from girlish dreaminess to strong, thoughtful woman will resonate with them. Though the author perhaps tries a bit too hard to use metaphor and symbolism ensconced in flowery language, there is an interesting story here; the hints at Persephone's lusty relationship with Hades, combined with the contemporary tone of her first-person narrative, will capture some readers. An endnote gives an overview of the original tale, which may lead to exploration of this and other Greek myths. Purchase where alternative chick-lit is popular.—Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada
Kirkus Reviews
A spunky Persephone retells her story lustfully enough to satisfy fans of Libba Bray and Stephenie Meyer. Persephone willingly leaves her vale with handsome Hades to find a surprisingly mundane Underworld-all it needs are a few feminine touches, like message boards and daily orientations for new arrivals. Unfortunately, she forgot to leave a note for her mother. This unremarkable retelling lays just enough groundwork for the sex, which is not actually depicted beyond "hot and hungry" kisses, unless you count the seduction ("I reach out to a stalk leaning toward me and run a finger across its bulging bud; it's so ripe, the bud splits at my touch...I hold it out to him") or the equally sublimated two-page pomegranate scene, in which its red juice splatters all over her chiton. This is no progressive Persephone-she falls for the first male she ever lays eyes on. But first-time author Whitman has a way with words, and readers will enjoy this-just as long as they don't think too hard about it. (Fantasy. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Radiant Darkness

Chapter One

The Meadow

I wake to a new smell in the air, not the everyday over-ripeness of summer, but something bright and fresh, like the first spring bud bursting open. The scent is so strong, I look to see if my mother has placed a vase of flowers by my bed, but the top of my trunk holds only the usual bronze mirror and the same old red clay foxes, and the house is silent. Then I remember: my mother, leave me a gift? Not likely. She's gone to bless the fields. I decide to follow the scent and see what flower is calling to me with such a loud voice.

On the trail down to the lake, I stop and sniff, trying to decide which way to turn. The well-worn path is already toasty under my soles. Dust rises in the heat and the early-morning sun soaks into my skin as if it were midday. A tortoise plods along beside the path, one heavy foot in front of the next. He stops to nibble some rosemary leaves, releasing a burst of their sharp smell. A rustle behind me makes me turn. It's only a deer. She stares at me with huge, knowing eyes.

I can smell the leaves and flowers pulling in light from the sun, releasing their own perfume in return—roses, sage—the familiar smells of home trying to take over and distract me from their new rival. Then, suddenly, a faint branching appears in the trail. There, to my left, is a small path I've never noticed. As soon as I see it, the fresh scent grows stronger, winning the battle for my attention again, and I head up the slope in a new direction. Why have I never come this way before?

The dusty path gives way to soft grass under my feet. The trail is only thefaintest line now, a whisper of deer hooves, as I walk into the shade of linden and poplar trees, and the deep green of olive leaves on gnarled branches. The perfume is stronger with every step, and I feel like I'm being reeled in on a string. My breath grows shorter and faster. It must be the steep trail making my heart beat so hard.

Now plum trees, thick with ripening fruit, block my view. I lift a heavy branch from the trail and the air lightens, as if a hand were lifting a veil from my eyes. A meadow spreads out before me, but I barely look at it—I only have eyes for the flower beckoning a few steps away. A gentle white head bobs on a slender stalk, sweet and unassuming, like a daffodil's little sister. But her perfume blares out so insistently, I almost feel drugged, like I'm in a different world. In a trance, I reach toward the stalk, and the wind blows my hair back.

Wind? There's no wind today.

I lift my head, and my mouth gapes open. Four gigantic black horses are treading air above the meadow, pushing great gusts with feathered wings. Their heads toss atop massive, muscular necks. Behind them, a golden chariot blazes in the morning sun. A hand holds the reins. A strong, wide hand. A man's hand.

Who is he? What is he doing here?

I freeze, except for my heart: it's crashing around in my chest loud enough for the whole world to hear. What if that man hears and sees me staring at him? A shiver of fear runs down my spine.

He must have pulled on his reins because the horses are landing, their mighty hooves touching down as lightly as a sigh, black wings folding gently over strong, broad backs.

I pull my eyes away and stare at the ground as if it could swallow me up and make me invisible: the long, heavy grasses; a small frog hiding under a leaf, its chest rising and falling almost as quickly as mine.

Suddenly, two birds burst into raucous song, shattering my trance, and I remember I'm capable of moving. I edge back under the trees. Once I'm hidden again, I start running, quietly at first, then faster and faster, until I'm shoving branches out of my way and trampling right over poppies, scattering their blood-red petals across the path. A pounding, like drums, sounds an alarm in my ears.

When I reach the fork in the trail, I screech to a stop, panting and clutching my sides. And listening. But I don't hear anything, except my heart trying to break out of my ribs.

My mother is going to kill him! She's going to kill me!

But I ran, didn't I? Like she would tell me to. I barely glanced at him. So I must be imagining that bold, straight nose. The black beard framing strong cheeks. And those eyes. I'm probably making them up, those black eyes burning like coals in the hottest part of the fire.

The deer pokes her head out from behind a branch, then turns and ambles down the path as if nothing happened. I follow, but I'm seeing the texture rippling in his hair, the travel cloak draped over one bare shoulder, a hand pulling easily on the reins.

Maybe he came to visit my mother.

Ha! Seeing him must have addled my brain. My mother, welcome a man?

I lift my eyes from the trail. There's the lake, as blue and placid as ever. Ringing the lake are meadows stuffed with flowers and trees bowing heavy with fruit. And surrounding it all—I look up and there they are—cliffs, towering pink in the morning light. They're the prettiest prison walls you ever saw.

And my mother did it all for me.

When I was born, she always says, she still had festivals and harvests, and I would have been in her way. So she created this all-female sanctuary, calling to nymphs—flowers and trees, breezes and streams—and they came gladly, filling the vale with music and perfume. At first some of them were my nurses; now others are my friends.

Radiant Darkness. Copyright © by Emily Whitman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Eloisa James
“A terrific story of a girl on the edge of womanhood, caught between a mother who offers no reverence and a boy who offers worship.”

Meet the Author

Emily Whitman's first novel, Radiant Darkness, was praised for its "originality and flair" by BCCB and was a #1 IndieBound Pick. The author lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Radiant Darkness 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Elise_T More than 1 year ago
Whitman's debut novel is a fantastic take on the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades. Most versions of this tale follow the belief that the young goddess of springtime, Persephone, was kidnapped by Hades, god of the Underworld and the dead. However Whitman brings to light another twist on the tale. In Radiant Darkness Persephone falls for the darkly handsome Hades and chooses to make a life with him in his land of the dead. Whitman has done her research here and it's obvious in the tightly woven tale and the believability of her characters. This novel is intoxicating in its storytelling and imagery. I can hardly wait for Emily Whitman's next novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was sooooooo good i love hades
RebeccaNaomi More than 1 year ago
This is not the first time that I have read this book. It is the second. And the first time I read this book I will admit to believing that it had no faults. I read it and only saw it for the surface value while at the same time somehow able to add elements that the book never even touched. So I can honestly say that while I still really like this book I am not looking at it with rose colored glasses anymore. The book is a retelling of Hades and Persephone and what could have happened it Persephone had chosen to go with Hades to the Underworld, leaving her mother forever. Persephone does not know what she is goddess of and despite the fact that she is indeed a goddess she does not believe that she possesses any of the power that Hades sees in her. It is not love at first sight. In fact Persephone actually runs away the first time she sees Hades and does not learn his name until after many meetings together in the vale that is not supposed to hold males at all. It is a beautiful prison made by her mother Demeter because Demeter does not want to admit that Persephone is no longer a child. I don't actually know how old she is either but I think I like it better that way. Slowly Persephone finds herself in love with Hades but I don't really get that feeling from Hades. From what is revealed at the end of the book I am inclined to think that Hades cares for Persephone but he is not as deeply lost to the love bug as Persephone but he seems to be getting there. I felt that the story did not show enough interaction between Persephone and Hades and it was really more of a coming of age book than a love story. It shows Persephone as she matures from a naive, innocent girl to a more worldly woman who just wants freedom but is constantly undermined by her mother. It also shows an interesting mother-daughter dynamic with Persephone completely believing that her mother does not love her. I really like most of the characters that I read about. Even the characters that were given less personality than others. The only person that I can truthfully say that I finished the book still disliking was Melita. In the beginning I think that she is a great friend for Persephone and a good way to find out more about mortal life. Yet this is all thrown out the window when the uses her friendship with Persephone as leverage to get what she wants. Right there she lost all of my respect and I was thrown into a land of disgust and anger at her. I most certainly did not feel this the first time around. I probably will not be reading this book for a third time.
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
I must say that I adored this book much more than I thought I would! I had no idea that it is about Hades and Persephone. I adored the storyline and the main character Persephone. It is so different than other books I've read. It is much more Greeky. First off, I love that the story is told from Persephone point of view. I liked seeing things from her view than from the normal Hades point of view. I loved how the Ms.Whitman wrote the main character Persephone, so differently that what I've read before. Here she is, locked up from the world, hidden by her mother, talked down too like a child. Persephone yearned for a peace, a freedom she never thought she see. I like that Hades didn't just grab her. They had a secret love. He waited for her, asked for her choosing. He is a gentlemen. As the story line begins to unfold, the reader sees the destruction of earth but also Persephone seeing things differently. She knew what her mother was doing and wanted to settled things once and for all. I adored how this story is really modernized but stays full of Greek Gods and Goddesses. Ms. Whitman keep the essence of a classic tale only making slight changes in it. I loved this book! It really capture me in a way I didn't think it would. If you love Greek Gods and Goddesses, tales of Persephone and Hades, read this book. It is an intensely fast read that you can not get enough of. I loved the writing style and adored the characters!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Have you heard the story of Persephone, daughter of the goddess Demeter? She was kidnapped by Hades and forced to live in the underworld as his queen. But that's not the real story - and Persephone is going to set the record straight.

Demeter is strict - so much so that she keeps Persephone sheltered in a vale. Demeter doesn't seem to notice that Persephone is not a little girl anymore. And she never allows any men to visit. So when Hades finds his way into the vale, Persephone is intrigued.

The two begin secret meetings and soon a forbidden relationship forms. When Hades asks Persephone to join him in the underworld, she can't wait to escape. Little does she know that her small decision will have a large effect on Earth.

RADIANT DARKNESS is a fabulous retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. The story has it all - a strict mom, a rebellious daughter, forbidden romance, sacrifice, and heartbreak!

Author Emily Whitman does a great job turning the familiar story on its head and adding new layers. Her writing is full of vivid details and her descriptions of the underworld and the vale were pure magic. Persephone is believable and readers will find her relatable, despite her mythical background. I loved that she starts as just a normal girl, who's even a little klutzy! Her transformation throughout is beautifully written, and I was cheering for Persephone along her journey.

Readers are sure to be enchanted by this thrilling debut!
Anonymous 9 months ago
A short enjoyable read with linear plot, though the rest of the characters lack depth or growth other than Persephone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello! It is me, persephone. I just want to thank emily for creating this book. Thank you! Hades also wanted to say thank you but he wont't do it in person so i am saying thanks for him. Good bye!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Megan53 More than 1 year ago
I have to say, I had higher hopes for this book. I keeped waiting for something really interesting to happen, but it really didn't. Oveall I like this book because it includes it's own vesion of the greek mythology mith. It's a very simple read, so buy it if you like a book that doesn't have a lot going on, which makes it very easy to follow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a really good book, it was just a kinda quick, cute, simple read. I would recommend this book in between finding another series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I reviewed this book after 100 pages and said it was aweful. After finishing the book i thought it was only fair to say i really enjoyed the last part of the book. I guess its one of those books you just need to keep reading to get to the good part. Hope this review was helpful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A. Nonny Mouse More than 1 year ago
I first picked up this book because of the cover, and because I'm a Greek history/mythology geek. But that wasn't the only reason I loved it. Whitman's storytelling is engaging and creative, and the characters are so lovable. 5 stars and 2 thumbs up. If you read this book and like it, or when you read this book and like it, check out Positively and Wayfarer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago