Book Review: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Book 2 of Olympus Bound
Publisher: Orbit (February 16, 2017)
Length: 447 pages
As The Immortals was one of my top reads from last year, I couldn’t wait to dive into its sequel, Winter of the Gods. And while I didn’t feel this sequel was as good as its predecessor, I wasn’t disappointed either—returning to Jordanna Max Brodsky’s extraordinary vision of New York City, where Greek gods walk the earth in human guises, was once again a pleasure to experience.
Our story opens several months after the end of the first book. With the weather getting colder and Christmas fast approaching, Selene DiSilva’s antipathy for the holiday spirit is enough to make Ebenezer Scrooge look like a paragon of cheer. On the bright side though, as Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt, defender of women and girls, Selene has also been keeping her spirits up with her vigilantism to bring justice to the abusers of those she has taken under her protection. And trust me, Selene DiSilva is not someone you’d want as an enemy.
However, Theo and Selene’s lives are soon turned upside down by a body found on top of the iconic Wall Street Charging Bull statue, surrounded by evidence pointing to a ritual performed by a sacrificial cult. The identity of the dead man comes as a shock as Selene realizes that she and the other gods are still in danger. Someone out there is hunting her and her brethren, and once again there’s a possibility that the culprit may be one of their own. Now she must reach out to the other immortals for help while Theo scours his knowledge of mythology and his field of classical studies to make sense of the mysterious clues left at the murder scene, all in the hopes they’ll catch the killer before it is too late.
There are many reasons why Winter of the Gods is a strong sequel. Those who enjoyed The Immortals will be pleased to find it continuing central themes from the first book, including the fresh perspective on popular Greek myths and the premise that the Old Gods live among us in secret. And like the first book, this sequel also reads like a mystery thriller, taking the reader on a Dan Brown-esque race around New York City to locate certain landmarks by solving problems and symbolic clues related to classical mythology. It’s a modern day murder mystery with a fantastical twist, and you’re definitely going to want to keep reading (or start this series) if you enjoy your urban fantasy spiced up with a touch of myth and magic.
However, there were a few disappointments as well. Selene DiSilva has always been a dangerous woman, but there’s no denying that the events from the first book have transformed her into an even more ornery and aggressive character. While I admired her as a powerful and strong-willed protagonist in The Immortals, in Winter of the Gods I confess I found her a lot harder to like, not to mention her behavior also cast an unhealthy shadow on her relationship with Theo. Selene is may be the protector of women and girls, but that doesn’t stop her from frequently extending that protection to all the needy and vulnerable of New York, which she sees as “her” city. Knowing this while reading about how she abuses Theo—emotionally and, at one point, physically—was a little hard to swallow. Let’s just say the following interactions between Theo and his friend Ruth gave me a real eye-opener on the nature of his relationship with Selene:
“Theo forgot how much he liked spending time with someone who always laughed at his jokes—someone whose emotions he could not only predict but, to some extent, influence. When Ruth was sad, he could cheer her up. When she was happy, he knew why.”
“Theo was a little taken aback by her alacrity. He was used to bargaining, cajoling, convincing. It felt odd to have someone so willing to help.”
Wait, so someone being pleasant towards him is actually something he finds surprising? What does that say about Selene? And Theo’s acquiescence and excuses for her, argh! The whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth which slightly affected my enjoyment of this novel, and it didn’t help that the romantic drama—like all the bickering and the jealousies—often caused pacing issues and distracted attention from the main mystery. When all is said and done, I was glad that the story ultimately had Theo and Selene looking more introspectively at their relationship to see if it was really the best for them or not (it’s an important conversation and kudos to the author for addressing the issues). For me though, all the chemistry had already been leeched out of their romance by then, and unfortunately I think that might have dampened the emotional impact of the ending.
Still, despite my complaints, they didn’t take too much away from my overall enjoyment of the novel. While a few minor flaws give Winter of the Gods less of an edge compared to the first book, I still highly recommend this sequel especially if you liked the ideas from The Immortals and wanted to see them expanded and explored. I can’t wait for the final book of this trilogy to see how the remaining conflicts and questions will resolve themselves.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Immortals (Book 1)