It's Book Review Wednedsay! Today, we're taking things back to a fantasy version of Ancient Greece, where the powers of the gods are manifested in very real ways…
Olivia is a sixteen-year-old Vestal Virgin, a happy devotee of her beloved goddess Vesta in her home nation of Parcae. But when her faith in Vesta is shaken, Olivia illegally experiments with her own divine power, making a discovery that could save her country from war - if she's brave enough to share it. After an accidental revelation proves Vesta is fake, Olivia and her fellow Virgins are tempted by a charismatic academy boy, Cassius, to invoke the real gods. Although they risk death if they are discovered, Olivia and her friends test their skills in secret experiments. But their games take an unexpected turn when flighty blonde Lucia reveals surprisingly deadly powers.
Gaius, a brilliant military student, must protect the girls and plan for war against an enemy nation while ignoring his growing attachment to Olivia. As a Vestal Virgin she has taken a holy vow of chastity, and the consequences of breaking it are severe...
My Review: 4 Stars
I'm not going to lie: I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to! At the beginning, the book was a bit too heavy on the religion side of things. It was all about Olivia's devotion to Vesta, the practices of the temples, and the close-minded beliefs of the Greeks. But once she finds out that Vesta is a fake (a beautiful reveal, I might add, though a bit clumsily done), the story gets interesting. I did not like how the technology relied on divine favor to work, but that's just my preferences.
The explanations of how the divine favor worked wasn't very clear. There were a few mistakes in the use of tenses, not to mention the occasional typo. One thing I didn't like was how inconsistent the personalities of the characters were. They seem fairly bland, but particularly Cassius and Gaius have no real personalities to define them. They changed from chapter to chapter, until the author finally settles on one personality type near the end. Made the characters less interesting.
The author showed EXCELLENT understanding of the Greek Pantheon, which, as a mythology lover, I found awesome. There were a few anachronsisms (like "shopping bags" or "bombs"), but overall it was fine. The ending stuck in my craw a bit. It's the clichéd "deux ex machina" ending.
There was no personal sacrifice required from the heroine to achieve the final ending, and there was no suffering or character growth. It was a bit "meh" overall. But, all in all, I enjoyed the book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't as particular or finicky as I am!
Here's a Taste:
“Lucia, is there anything you did, anything you visualized, that helped you make the ball fly?” Cassius asks her.
“Um, well, I thought about her bow,” Lucia said. “That’s why I held my fist up, like this.” She demonstrates.“I pretended I was holding a bow. I guess we could even try pulling back an imaginary string.”
Encouraged, Marta and I try the bow technique. It helps tremendously. My ball flies more than forty yards, and Marta’s gains a good twenty. We both cheer and dance around each other, thrilled, but Gaius is unimpressed.
“That’s great. If we can get the enemy to come up close for a hug, we can definitely obliterate them.”
“Good job, girls,” Cassius breaks in supportively with a smile. “We’re still making progress. That’s what’s important.”
I’m so grateful to him for being here with us now. Gaius is a serious de-motivator.
“What if I asked Diana to help you?” says Lucia. “I think she would listen to me. I think we’re friends now.”
“Really? Will she let you do her hair?” gasps Marta in mock enthusiasm.
“Shut up,” says Lucia, “or I’ll ask her to turn you into a beaver or something.”
Then she closes her eyes and stands close behind me, her palms upturned. “Dear Diana, please listen closely to my friend Olivia and help her when she prays to you. She’s special.”
“Thank you,” I murmur to her.
Then she moves to Marta. “Dear Diana,” she prays, “Please help my friend Marta, who is a horrible shrew but whom I love, by listening to her prayers. She obviously needs all the help she can get.”
Marta snorts. I think she is simultaneously irritated and moved.
On our next attempt, our cannonballs fly in a high arc across the circus, covering more than a thousand yards and slamming into the far distant tree line, as Lucia’s did. We’re all stunned. No one speaks.
“We did it,” Marta whispers.
“Oh my gods,” Gaius says fervently. “Wait here.” He goes running to his other bag, still hidden in the ditch on the other side of the track. When he returns, he’s holding another iron ball, identical to the first.
“Lucia, this is extremely dangerous,” he says to her carefully. “This is the finished weapon. It is an iron ball packed with explosives. You need to make it fly into the trees, and then detonate it. Please be careful. If this goes wrong, we could all die.”
” she snaps. “Why does everyone talk to me like I’m an idiot? Don’t answer that,” she says to Marta, cutting off what surely would have been a snotty comment.
Gaius makes everybody stand as far away from Lucia as possible, going so far as to make us hunker in the ditch with the whining mosquitoes buzzing around us. We can only watch by peering over the top.
“Oh my gods, please don’t let her blow herself up,” he whispers, frantic with worry, his face in his hands.
I think he needs to give her a little more credit. At this point, she’s proven she can handle herself.
“Get down, everyone,” Gaius nags us.
Ignoring him, we watch Lucia straighten herself up, square her shoulders, and take a deep breath. She holds her hand out. She counts to three. As before, she propels the ball through the air toward the tree line. I try to watch, but Gaius shoves me down with unnecessary force, sending me rolling into the bottom of the ditch. There is a massive explosion.
As the smoke clears, I scramble back up so I can see the results of the detonation. Where there was formerly a distant grove, there is now a smoking pile of shattered trees. The extent of the devastation fills me with awe.
“Oh,shit,” Gaius says in disbelief. “We are going to destroy them.”
About the Author:
Callista Hunter is a librarian and first-time author who loves fantasy and YA fiction. She has studied Latin poetry and is fascinated by the mythology of ancient Rome. Find the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Goddess-Callista-Hunter-ebook/dp/B00S6T3E50/
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