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. (Publisher's summary for Powell's Books)
In her debut novel Radiant Darkness, Emily Whitman revamps the Greek myth of Persephone as a coming of age story meant to appeal to YA readers. Unfortunately, for me this story fell short. I found Persephone lacking a strong voice, which made the narration tedious. Several times I thought about not finishing the book, but forced myself to continue reading hoping that it would get better. I thought the relationship between Persephone and Hades seemed superficial and emotionless, and the characters flat and one-dimensional.
The one aspect of the story I did enjoy was Persephone’s friendship with a secondary character Melita, a mortal who helps Persephone with her garden in the underworld and tells her about the mortal world. Through this relationship, Persephone learns about Melita’s daughter, Philomena and eventually helps save the girl. This was an original element to the Greek myth and added some suspense to story that otherwise had very little.
While I have always been a huge fan of Greek mythology, I found Radiant Darkness a real disappointment.