Review: The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer [1/5]

the dark wife

When Hades leaves,” Pallas whispered, “the light goes with her.”

Title: The Dark Wife

Author: Sarah Diemer

Genre: Fantasy, Rewritten Mythology

Rating: 1/5


Three thousand years ago, a god told a lie. Now, only a goddess can tell the truth.

Persephone has everything a daughter of Zeus could want–except for freedom. She lives on the green earth with her mother, Demeter, growing up beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus. But when Persephone meets the enigmatic Hades, she experiences something new: choice.

Zeus calls Hades “lord” of the dead as a joke. In truth, Hades is the goddess of the underworld, and no friend of Zeus. She offers Persephone sanctuary in her land of the dead, so the young goddess may escape her Olympian destiny.

But Persephone finds more than freedom in the underworld. She finds love, and herself.

I really, really, really wanted to like this book. Persephone and Hades as a female/female couple! How could this be bad? I honestly believed there was no way this could even be less than a mediocre book.

But oh how I was wrong.

This book is just bad. Plot and characters both can be described as “flimsy.” There are a dozen plot holes, and that which doesn’t have a plot hole is cliched in such a way that you know exactly what’s going to happen. On top of that, the characters themselves are one-dimensional and can express only up to three emotions maximum. The romance feels forced, too quick, and Persephone spends paragraphs describing why Hades is beautiful and perfect and flawless, and yeah, I get she’s a Goddess, but the thing about Greek gods is that they’re all flawed.

When it comes to what the characters feel or believe, you’re told all of that information and given no reason to believe it. Gratuitous details are spent on all the wrong things while the plot details and motivations that do need more details are left to flounder. There are also copious half-baked plots that probably would have made for better stories than this one.

This might have at least been bearable if the writing was good, but it’s not. The prose is overly flowery and at first gives the impression of being good because it’s full of big words and long sentences. The truth is that the purple prose acts as a cloak to disguise the fact that many of the words being used don’t make sense in context and that the writing is actually very poor. Because of this writing style, it exacerbates the melodrama of the piece, taking it from semi-okay to completely eye-roll worthy.

I wish I could say that this was better. I really do. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not even mediocre. The only good things I have to say are good cover, queer characters exist, and I like stories that play with mythology. Unfortunately, that’s it.

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