I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Series: Olympus Bound #1
Published by Orbit on February 16 2016
Genres: Adult, Urban fantasy
The nitty-gritty: A fun and furious romp with the gods through Manhattan, an intricately plotted murder mystery, and a delightful and refreshingly chaste romance.
“One half brother with a huge penis, another with giant testicles. No wonder I’ve never gotten along with my family.”
– Selene DiSilva
I was so excited when I was approved for this book, because I’ve been eyeing it for months. The cover alone was enough to make me giddy, but even better was the fact that it’s urban fantasy with Greek gods and goddesses in New York City! I have to admit I’m not terribly well versed in Greek mythology. I mean, I know the basics, but I actually haven’t read many books dealing with the subject. Well, I hope that’s going to change, because I’m hooked. I had so much fun with The Immortals, and yes, I learned a lot. Brodsky accomplishes that elusive thing in fiction: she’s done tons of research and put all of it in her story, but she’s done so without hitting us over the head with it. Add in the fact that this is a fantastic story—a page-turner-mystery-romance with murder, comedy and lots of action.
Present day Manhattan holds many secrets, the biggest one being that many of the Greek gods and goddesses are still alive and hanging out there—although they wear disguises and call themselves different names. Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt (one of her many monikers) is one such goddess. Even though her powers have all but faded over the past two thousand years, she still makes it her duty to protect wronged women. Selene DiSilva, as she now calls herself, roams the streets, answering the calls of distress and handing out violent justice to the men who abuse these women. (Think Anya the vengeance demon from Buffy.)
One day, however, walking along the lake with her trusty dog Hippolyta, Selene discovers the body of a young woman. The body has been violently mutilated, and even stranger, the woman appears to be dressed in traditional Greek garb that makes Selene think the murder is ritualistic in nature.
Professor Theo Shultz teaches the classics at Columbia University, but his world is shattered when he’s told that a fellow professor in his department, a young woman named Helen Emerson, has been found dead. When Selene and Theo meet, and Selene describes the condition of Helen’s body, Theo immediately agrees that her murder is much more complicated than it appears. Someone seems to be trying to reenact an ancient Greek ritual, and the worst part? Helen’s is only the first sacrifice planned.
Selene reluctantly teams up with Theo, who just happens to be an expert in all things Greek, in order to solve the mystery of Helen’s death before more women wind up dead.
Wow, I don’t even know where to start, there is so much to love about this book! First of all, I have to applaud the author for her meticulous research and very careful plotting and attention to detail. Obviously, there are tons of interesting facts about the Greek gods and goddesses, but she also throws in details about the history of Manhattan and somehow makes it all fit into the story. Her ability to combine the past and the present was nothing short of brilliant. I don’t want to say much about it, but let’s just say there is one scene where she figures out a way to combine elements of an ancient Greek ritual with the show Saturday Night Live. And there are plenty more examples like that.
I’ve read several other reviews of this book that use the word “pretentious,” but I honestly loved every scholarly word, and while there are some sections of the story that veer a little too much into info dump territory—Theo is mostly to blame for these sections. He is, after all, a professor of classic Greek myths and legends—for once, I didn’t mind. All that information leads to solving the mystery of who’s behind the killings, and it was fun trying to take those details and figure out how they fit into the story.
Selene and Theo are the stars here, and I loved their relationship. At times The Immortals felt like a good old-fashioned, feel-good romance. The best part is that—in case you don’t know all your Greek mythology history—Artemis/Selene is a virgin, and even after two thousand years, she’s still a virgin when this story takes place. As she reluctantly begins to fall for Theo, she’s torn between human need and her vow of celibacy. Theo doesn’t know who she is, and so he’s getting lots of mixed signals. I was surprised how satisfying their relationship was, even when nothing much happens between them.
The other relationship I loved was between Selene and her very sick mother, Leto, who is dying even though she’s supposed to be immortal. I loved the scenes with Selene, Leto and Selene’s twin brother Apollo (who calls himself Paul in the present day), as both Selene and Paul are completely devoted to their mother and they are doing whatever they can to find out why she is fading.
Brodsky uses the idea that the gods are losing their powers because people have stopped worshipping them, and I thought it was a well thought out idea that some gods are stronger than others. For example, Paul is a rock star, and so he has lots of worshippers, therefore his power is stronger than some of the other gods who aren’t worshipped as much.
The author adds a couple of very handy items to her book. First, a flow chart of the gods and goddesses and their relationships to each other was something I ended up referring to over and over again. And at the end is a glossary in case you need to brush up on your knowledge of all things Greek mythology.
At times the dialogue and action seemed over-the-top, and felt much like a graphic novel in that respect, but for me, it simply added to the reading experience. This is a story, after all, about gods and goddesses, who are by definition bigger than life! I couldn’t be happier that this is the start of a series, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next installment.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy. Quote was taken from an uncorrected proof and may differ in the final version of the book.