Review: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

March 1, 2017
Review: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max BrodskyWinter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Published by Orbit Books on February 14 2017
Genres: Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 432
Our reviews of this author: The Immortals (Olympus Bound #1)
Format: Finished hardcover
Source: Publisher

Thanks to Orbit Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I had so much fun last year with The Immortals, the first of the Olympus Bound series, and I was hoping for more of the same. I wasn’t disappointed. Brodsky gives us a very strong sequel that builds on the world-building of the first book and introduces a new threat to our present-day Greek gods and goddesses. Even better, she moves along the romance between Selene and Theo and makes it feel realistic, even though we’re dealing with a millennia-old goddess and a present-day history professor/geek/authority on all things Greek. I think I enjoyed the first book slightly more, since this seemed to take ages to get through. (Not that I was bored, but it felt longer than the first book and it literally took me two weeks to read.) Still, if you love puzzles and enjoy finding hidden meanings in historical places and objects, you’ll love this series. I will even go so far as to say Winter of the Gods can be read without having read The Immortals first. It has a self-contained plot, and although the first book introduces you to the characters and their relationships, Brodsky does a great job of jogging our memories and subtly bringing new readers up to speed.

Briefly—in case you haven’t read The Immortals—it turns out the Greek gods and goddess of mythology are actually real, and they’re alive and well and many of them are living in Manhattan. Selene DiSilva used to be known as Diana, Goddess of the Hunt, but now she protects women from abusive men. Her brother Apollo is now known as Paul and is a famous rock star, and other gods and goddesses have also taken on modern roles and appearances in order to keep their secret identities safe.

Theo is a professor at Columbia University, whose specialty is ancient Greek and Roman history. In the previous book, he met Selene during a murder investigation. Over the course of the story, Selene and Theo start to fall for each other.

After the events of the last book, Selene and Theo have settled into a mostly comfortable relationship, although the virgin Huntress is still a virgin, much to Theo’s chagrin. But their happy existence doesn’t last for long, as the two are called in to help investigate a ritualistic murder. The body of an older man has been found draped over the statue of The Charging Bull on Wall Street, surrounded by several dead animals—a crow, a scorpion and a dog—which have been carefully placed around the body. Theo takes one look at the crime scene and suspects a cult might be involved, but he and Selene have lots of digging to do before they uncover the truth.

When they realize that the victim is none other than the god Hades, they are horrified that an immortal god is dead. And when Selene is attacked and her golden bow and arrows are stolen, both she and Theo start to put the pieces together: someone is targeting gods and goddesses. In order to track down the cult responsible for Hades’ death, Theo and Selene team up with several of Selene’s immortal family members, and it isn’t long before everyone finds themselves in grave danger.

Once again, Brodsky’s prose is compulsively readable, and her dialog is so funny. When you’re writing a story about the ups and downs of family relationships, good dialog is very important, and this book is chock full of wonderful moments between Selene and Theo, and Selene and her problematic siblings. If you think reading about mythological characters is dry material, then think again. Brodsky breathes life into three-thousand year old Selene and her brothers, aunts and uncles with snappy dialog interspersed with interesting facts about mythology.

Theo and Selene go through lots of changes in this story. You would think it would be hard to maintain an interesting romance when Selene continues to insist on staying a virgin, but I thought the author handled it very well. Selene is a prickly character and isn’t that easy to get along with, so it says something about Theo that he wants to stay with her, even after everything that’s happened between them.

There are plenty of interesting facts about the gods, and for mythology buffs, this story is like catnip! But don’t worry: Brodsky knows how to incorporate a damn good story with her love of history, and the two mesh wonderfully together. She’s obviously done a ton of research, and it shows.

A couple of things didn’t work quite as well for me this time, although they were very minor. For some reason, Theo grated on my nerves more than the last book. He came across as whiny, especially when Selene tries to cut him out of the action (for his safety, of course), and his constant “know it all” attitude about historical facts became a bit too much. He’s also very jealous of Selene in this book, especially when she’s interacting with her half-brother Flint (Hephaestus, God of the Forge). I also though the writing was overly dramatic in some spots, but it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the story.

The last several chapters are action-packed and emotional, and an unexpected twist at the end caught me off guard, but I can see why the author decided to go in that direction. Brodsky does a great job of wrapping things up at the end, but leaving just a crumb or two unresolved to whet our appetites for the third (and final?) book of the series, Olympus Bound. This series is highly enjoyable, and if you haven’t started it, I recommend you do so right away.

Tammy Sparks
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