A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair is a modern take on the mythological story of Hades and Persephone. The setting is a world similar to our own but one where the Greek gods and goddesses mingle with humanity and are treated like celebrities. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s really not and I’ll tell you why after the synopsis. This review will have spoilers.
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.
The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a Goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.
I mentioned in last week’s review for The Shadows Between Us that the book had a good premise but the author either didn’t have the skill or dedication to really follow through with it; the same is true for A Touch of Darkness. I wouldn’t say that this book reads like a first draft but it definitely doesn’t read like a finished novel.
The world building was decently done. I really liked the modern take on a Greek city. In this city, named New Greece, the gods and goddesses own the most elite clubs, restaurants, hotels and other venues. They’re not really worshiped but instead treated like modern day celebrities. They’re the rich, beautiful and famous. All of that is well and good but the actual characters are where this book falls apart.
The story is told from Persephone’s point of view. Persephone is the Goddess of Spring and the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. Her father is conveniently never mentioned but I suppose that makes sense since he is Hades’ brother. An uncle and niece love story doesn’t quite appeal to most people. Anyways, Persephone is just… the worst. She’s stupidly stubborn because she’s an “empowered woman.” It’s so annoying. She never made a wise decision and was unbelievably immature. Reading from her POV was like reading from a thirteen year old’s POV. I wanted to like her but there was nothing likable. Now let’s talk about Hades.
Hades COULD have been really interesting. There’s so much potential for a really cool story when you’re writing about the god of the Underworld but that just didn’t happen here. It’s obvious from the beginning that Hades is going to end up with Persephone but I assumed he would be mysterious, hard to get to know and/or troubled… nah, he’s just all around amazing. He really reminded me of Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I do like Rhys but I don’t like overly perfect men. I want flaws and depth. The main problem with this book was none of the characters had any depth and that made me not care about them.
The pacing and overall writing wasn’t the best either. The story progression was completely dependent on miscommunication. If Persephone would have just TALKED to Hades, her mother and her friends, 99% of the issues would have been solved instantly. The romance was well written but it was very instalove/lust- ish. It was clear that the author was more interested in writing the explicit scenes over creating an intriguing plot. There were also quite a few typos that I feel should have been caught in editing and as I said above, that made this book feel like an unfinished novel.
I didn’t hate this book but it’s not a new favorite. There were parts of it that I enjoyed and I was entertained enough to want to read the second book, A Touch of Ruin. I believe this will be a trilogy but if the second book isn’t much better than the first, I won’t be reading the third. Do you like retellings of Greek mythology? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!