“The Gorgon Bride” is a whimsical story about a whirlwind romance and trying to discover if that romance is the real deal, or just a passing fling. As someone who adores Greek Mythology, I was instantly intrigued by this book, and for the most part, the author does a nice job of touching upon a great number of myths and portrays the Greek gods well enough to where you don’t necessarily need to know all the stories for the various people who make cameo’s in the book, but it certainly does help. The reader follows Alex, though, a modern day man who finds himself suddenly dead, the Greek gods are suddenly back from their centuries long hiatus, and that Athena has taken an interest in Alex in particular. Why Alex? That’s never really explained….
In the very first chapter, Athena drops a whale on Alex’s head and kills him. How does he know it’s Athena? Because Hermes makes him sign for it like a package. Why has Athena picked Alex to have a whale dropped on him? Then let’s slip that she was told this mortal will eventually piss her off so he’ll owe her a favor? Post-whale smooshing, mind you. I still have no clue. Maybe I missed it, but this question was bothering me the whole time. Because everything that happens next, and everything Alex tries to prove, is all because Athena claims to have been wronged by Alex’s arrogance when he meets her in the Underworld. But, excuse me, Athena started it with the whole whale thing! Doesn’t she owe him, not the other way around? But I digress. Why the whale is there to begin with gets explained, which was kind of funny, just not why Alex of all people.
Regardless, Alex is then tasked with finding Eurayle, the gorgon, her true love for all eternity. And surprise, surprise, it’s not surprising who that turns out to be. How someone can see past the snakes for hair and form an insta-love to an actual monster that fast, I have no clue but there it is. The sad thing is, the story didn't even need that instant attraction! You'll find out what I mean if you read the book, but suffice it to say, it became rather pointless early on.
Unfortunately, while the writing is very clever and witty, Alex and Jessica are both rather flat in terms of character depth and felt too similar to me. I never connected much with Alex and never had a very clear view of him in my mind’s eye, making it personally hard for me to be invested in his trials. That being said, the gods interactions were by far my favorite. Ares interacting with Athena—or pretty much Ares interactions with anyone for that matter—was very well done, and I found myself chuckling on occasion. I also really enjoyed Kharon and Alex’s first encounter. It’s clear the author knows his mythology but, given the stories focus lay elsewhere, the gods did feel a bit stereotypical at times. But I believe this was done for the benefit of a reader who, like Alex, doesn’t know their mythology.
I wanted to like this book a lot more because of the mythology aspect and how well the author writes. The plot, at its core, is clever and I highly enjoyed the witticism and snark of the characters and writing when it was present. Surlak-Ramsey is clearly a very talented writer who can tell fun, light-hearted tales succinctly without letting the flow and action of a novel lag. However, that thing with the whale, the human characters being so two dimensional and kind of dumb in my opinion, plus Eurayle is barely in the book, and my dislike of insta-love and romances in general, made this book pretty hard to rate. I was wavering between two and three stars the whole time, but the action at the end and the book’s conclusion as a whole has me rounding up, because it is pretty fun and cute. All in all, this is a light and entertaining read, I’d even say it was a good middle-grade book as those plot holes probably wouldn’t bother younger readers as much—plus, while Alex goes through some pretty dire tasks, the violence is fleeting and not permanent because Alex is already dead, the love is all pretty innocent, and there’s no graphic language. But I was just expecting something… more, or just different from “The Gorgon Bride”, so I’m giving it 2.75 stars but am rounding up because it is a light read all other issues aside. And thanks to the publisher for providing me a copy for review!
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