Reviewed by: Margaret
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
Selene di Silva, once known as Artemis, prowls the streets of New York in search of women who need her help and punishes the men who harm them. She’s lost most of her powers, as all of the gods have, but she clings to her identity as a protector of the innocent. One morning, she finds a body washed up on a riverbank and dressed like a sacrifice from ancient times. She vows revenge on the woman’s behalf, but she also fears that victim is part of something bigger.
Selene meets classics professor Theo Schultz at the site where his former girlfriend’s body was found. After she shares the details that point to ritual sacrifice, Theo is able to piece together evidence that someone is trying to revive an ancient cult. When the police don’t believe his theories, Theo turns to Selene to help stop the cult. The huntress and the academic are an unusual team, but I really liked them together.
Between the evidence in the murders, the research into the rituals, and the mythological backstory, there’s a lot of information in this book, which made it a slow read for me. The fact that it’s over 450 pages probably didn’t help that feeling that I might never get to the end. Still, I was engaged in the story the whole time. I loved the stories about New York history. Selene, under a different name, was one of the first women to join the NYPD in the 1920s. She knows where the hidden springs and caves are in Central Park. Her “human” life is just as interesting as her life as a god.
I also liked the way Brodsky imagines some of the gods changing over time. They need to maintain some of their attributes to preserve their identities and their immortality, but they all have several epithets to choose from. Apollo, god of poetry, becomes the lead singer in a folk-rock band. Hermes, god of communication, is currently a movie producer. Only six of the twelve Olympians appear in The Immortals, so I’m curious about how the others might be portrayed later in the series.
The Immortals also spends a great deal of time on the chicken-egg argument of whether or not the gods created the myths or vice versa, which makes my little Lit. major heart so happy. Selene acknowledges that her memories have changed over time as the myths have changed and the most vivid ones are those immortalized by poets. But she doesn’t want to believe that her life was not her own. Theo teaches his students that the myths were adaptable, an oral tradition that could change over time to suit society’s needs. He needs to adjust his philosophy a bit after he learns the gods are real, but I think ultimately that’s the lesson that Selene learns from him. Her story is about learning to break free from the past, defy expectations, and choose your own identity.
Sexual content: kissing, graphic violence, references to rape