You know those books that keep you up hours past any reasonable bedtime because you just have to know what happens next? Those books that make want to run up to strangers in the street, grab them by their shoulders, and say, “You have got to read this?!?”
This is one of those books.
Receiver of Many is Rachel Alexander’s sweet, sexy, and beautifully written re-telling of the Hades and Persephone myth. And it is so good on so many levels.
First, her characters are amazing. Yes, they’re gods – but I’ve read books with human characters who weren’t half this nuanced or well-developed. Hades and Persephone both have understandable motivations and reasonable fears. They both struggle with their insecurities and try to become better, uh, gods.
They’re also surrounded by a fantastic cast of supporting characters. I was especially fond of Thanatos, or Death – he’s awesome.
But it’s not just the characters. Rachael Alexander’s world-building is absolutely lovely, especially her vivid and beautiful depictions of the Underworld. She’s clearly done her research; Receiver of Many is infused with historical details that make the novel feel like Bronze age ancient Greece. And her version of the River Styx is now the only one I will ever imagine.
Plus, the plot is fantastic. Sure, like all the other introverted book lovers out there who spent most of junior high in the Mythology section of the library, I’m familiar with the details of the Hades and Persephone myth. But this novel kept me guessing. Yeah, you know pomegranates are going to feature prominently, but it’s one hell of wild ride to get there.
Now, if you’re a romance fan, you’ve probably noticed many romance novels follow the same set of rules.
These “guidelines” typically have the novel begin with an initial attraction between the two romantic leads, and then a series of contrived circumstances (or occasionally outright stupidity from one or both characters) that keeps them from doin’ it. After many pages of tension and separation, the book ends with sex and/or a wedding.
Well, Receiver of Many breaks all those rules. Beautifully. And believably. Hopefully I’m not giving too much away to say there’s sex right off the bat (you do know the myth, right?), and then the characters have to learn how to live with one another.
Which brings me to philosophy.
Yes, philosophy matters to me; if a book is sexist or otherwise troubling, I have a hard time enjoying it. That’s why I couldn’t stand Twilight, and I had to put down Hardwired. It’s also why I stopped reading the Wheel of Time series (the female characters were all so terrible). So a book isn’t going to get my full approval unless it’s got a strong supporting philosophy.
And Receiver of Many gets it, on every level.
The story is sex-positive, with strong, believable, and charismatic male and female characters. The ultimate conflict between Hades and Persephone is their struggle to learn to live together, honestly and as equal partners, in two worlds that constantly try to raise one above the other. For a story about gods and myth, their challenges were incredibly realistic and touching.
Which means this book was so freaking good it gave me a serious book hangover.
Check it out here.
You can thank me later.
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