Goddess by Josephine Angelini
Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you know me at least a little bit, right? Well enough to know that I would pick a theme for a month just so that I could read a certain book? Excellent. Then you will understand completely when I tell you that I chose trilogies just so that I could get to Goddess.
The third book in a trilogy can be tricky. Often times, it’s where all the action is, the climax of the series. It’s where the author has to prove that there was a point to everything that came before. And unfortunately for me, it’s also where grand battles often play themselves out. I tend to tune out a bit when it comes to grand battles. But that’s just me! I know tons of readers that relish the more military aspects of books.
Consequently, I found Goddess a bit disappointing. Angelini does much better without a war waiting to be written and I found some of the resolution underwhelming. And of course, it did not help matters one bit that the big payoff of waiting to see if Helen gets her true love was not terribly exciting. If the book had erred on the PG side overall and had omitted a big sexy, romantic payoff because it lacked racy content throughout it would have made sense, but when the author has no issue writing about other characters having been together or having been naked and then refuses to give you the same excitement with the main characters, it can be a bit of a letdown.
I do love that the gods are being treated with appropriate weight. So many of the stories of the gods cheerfully gloss over the horrors, “oh, well, he turned himself into a bull, made her love him and she bore him sons”, but Angelini calls it out for the power-abuse and rape that it often was. Now, does this make the series remarkably less younger-reader friendly? Of course. But, you know, it is nice to have a book telling readers to take their romanticized myths and legends with a grain of salt. The sex in this book is largely violent in nature. As such, I’m leaving it mainly in the violence section.
Also, if readers enjoy Goddess, it’s a natural choice to read Goddess of Yesterday next, which is similarly violent and dark, but set in Ancient Greece.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – A man kisses a girl’s face. A couple falls into each other’s arms and kisses repeatedly. A couple says that the girl could already be pregnant. Bodies press together. A woman’s voice arouses men. A woman is pregnant by her lover. A man is referred to as an “almost rapist”. A girl has a powerful aphrodisiac effect on males and females alike. Her best friend once kissed her. A girl and boy sit next to each other and their thighs are pressed against each other. A couple strips to their underwear to have a physical altercation. During a fight a boy pins a girl down and she wraps her legs around his waist. There is talk of tongue kissing. Someone jokes that a male character has already slept with every hot girl. Two people are encouraged to kiss. A guy is told to carry a girl off over his shoulder (he doesn’t). Dating is discussed. A guy pulls a girl close and kisses her brow. A woman’s form in her nightgown is discussed. She is half-bursting out of her nightgown in all the right places. A couple undresses to go swimming. A girl is standing in just her bra. A girl doesn’t mind if someone gets the wrong idea and assumes she slept with someone. A man has memories of a prior life and sleeping next to a woman. A girl moves lingerie in her room. A woman marries a man she didn’t love. A man kisses a woman, slides his knee between her thighs, lifts her skirts and touches her bare skin, tears off her clothes. She wraps herself around him. A man supposedly “only goes for little girls”. It is absolutely clear that this is unacceptable and that the man in question is evil. A man kisses a woman and carries her to his bed. A girl says she doesn’t want having a child to be anyone’s choice but her own. A woman wakes up with her naked body tangled with a man; they had made love. A man is impotent. A couple has a sex (this word is not used, but it is very clear that they have just had sex). The man wants to marry the woman but she says it is not possible. Lots of couples are naked together, lots of men are shirtless throughout. A woman tells a man she loves him, they kiss. There is lots of talk of love. A god “lusts” for someone. There’s a truly cringe-inducing description of a girl who “turned her mouth up…like a shy flower opening for the first time”. Yick.
Profanity – “damn,” “jackass,” “hell,” “bastards,” “crap,” “blasted,” “ticked,” “bitching,” “dickhead” which seems oddly out of place, “bitch,” “ass,” “getting off” which isn’t profanity, but you know, “frigging,” “son of a biscuit,” “pissing…off”,
Death, Violence and Gore – Someone’s throat was slit. Someone died to help someone else. A character killed someone in order to save others. A woman’s husband is already dead, killed in battle. She contemplates suicide but know it will not bring her to the same part of the underworld. A girl bites someone. A man has long scars on his body. Blood leaks from a woman’s mouth and a gash in her head. A man beats a woman and threatens to beat the child out of her. A woman is stoned. Her skin is described as pulpy and ragged. There is a plan to behead someone. A knife was in someone’s heart. In a dream a dolphin hits a girl until she bleeds. Men in an army follow a man to certain death. A woman is gored to death by talons, another is trampled to death by a horse, both were raped before death. There’s a feeling that perhaps women are being killed to avoid the chance that they might be pregnant after the rape. A teacher at the school died. A woman wears a dagger. A man carries a broadsword. A woman is warned that her future husband might kill her. She is married off in the hopes of preventing slaughter. Men grunt, scream and die. Bodies are heard falling. A woman says that people want to kidnap her in order to bear children with her. A girl throws everything at hand at an approaching man. A woman is badly injured in an attack. There’s a lot of people wanting to kill each other. People believe that a baby should be left to die. People want to fight to release tension. A woman had to kill many people. She has violent spells. A man tries to kill his sister and her unborn child, but she kills him first. A boy’s cousin tried to kill him, but he killed him first. A girl tears and claws at her own skin. There’s discussion of whether or not people would kill Hitler if given the chance (answer: yes). In Arthur’s time, people are at war. Arthur’s soldiers are unprepared against the Berserkers who routinely hurt women and children. A woman’s father died, he had been tortured previously. There’s talk of killing a child (oh, yes, this does happen more than once, and in reference to more than one child). A woman raises a sword to cut out someone’s heart. A man is burnt to the bone, his body bloody; his skin flaking off. He is a character we care deeply about. His heartbeat stops. Innocent children are thrown from the top of a wall. Someone dreams of fields filled with bones. Women are to be divided as the spoils of war. People very frequently contemplate killing others. A man will beat his wife for the rest of her life. All the children of a town are to be killed. A man lost his wife in childbirth. Two men are scheduled to duel at dawn. People sharpen swords. Armies prepare for battle. People are shot with arrows. When the arrows are removed, blood flows in rivers. People are cut down with swords in the midst of battle. A woman sworn to revenge plans to kill someone. A woman kills people and electrocutes others. A man is beheaded (this isn’t the first beheading of the book) and his head rolls into fire, his dead eyes still looking. His body falls down after. A woman is killed, her head is almost completely severed. A Kraken squeezes someone with its tentacle and that person died a gruesome death. A character we care about is stabbed in the chest and dies. Another is killed with an arrow. All kinds of creatures attack a girl. A man is cut in the leg and his kidneys are pierced. The person he is fighting is deliberately delivering non-fatal blows in order to make death as prolonged and painful as possible. He is eventually beheaded. A man had killed someone with his bare hands.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Someone joking asks if someone else is drunk. At that point there is no indication of drinking whatsoever, just failure to do a task well. A character jokes about drinks on a flight and having a fake ID. Some soldiers fight in drug-induced trances. A woman is drugging a man.
Frightening or Intense Things – A massive eagle carries a woman in its talons, she struggles to be free. A place is cursed that everyone should die unloved and childless. There’s a Kraken.