As a reward for my fortitude (at least that's what I like to tell myself), Hachette Books sent me a copy of Gods Behaving Badly, a debut novel by Marie Phillips (click here to listen to a podcast interview). Gods Behaving Badly is about Greek gods and a couple of mortals with whom they cross paths. According to Kerry Fried in Newsday, it is "[t]he most amusing and instructive collision between gods and mortals since A Midsummer Night's Dream." High praise indeed, but is it true? Personally, I love the title, but the jury (of one ~ me) isn't in yet, though I can say that I've read the first chapter and it already had me laughing out loud.
Being a Greek god is not all it once was. Yes, the twelve gods of Olympus are
alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London townhouse-and none too happy about it. And they've had to get day jobs: Artemis as a dog-walker, Apollo as a TV psychic, Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Dionysus as a DJ.
Even more disturbingly, their powers are waning, and even turning mortals into trees--a favorite pastime of Apollo's--is sapping their vital reserves of strength.
Soon, what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills. Two perplexed humans, Alice and Neil, who are caught in the crossfire, must fear not only for their own lives, but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed-but can these two decidedly ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?
So, after the month I've had, I need a few laughs. I'm going to bed now to snuggle beneath the comforter and read more of Gods Behaving Badly.
But, first: The Giveaway! Leave a comment to this post and you will be entered to win a copy of Gods Behaving Badly. Put a link to the contest on your blog, and your name will be entered twice. For each five comments, one copy will be given away, up to five copies. So leave a comment, tell your friends, post a link on your blog. The contest will run through 12:00 p.m. (PDT) December 24, so if you win, it will be a nice
early late Christmas present! (Sorry, contest open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.)
I'll be back in a couple of days with my review.
And here it is, finally, my review: I thought it was a wonderful read, light and amusing without being fluffy, serious without being depressing. Imagine if you will the mighty Greek gods of Olympus ~ Zeus, Hera, Athena, Artemis, Mars, Persephone, Apollo, Hermes, and Pluto (not the Disney dog) ~ living all together (except for Persephone and Pluto who live in Hades) in a rundown tenement in London. And imagine these formerly powerful and amoral gods and goddesses trying to fit into modern times. Dysfunctional doesn't come near to what things are really like for them, especially now that their powers are in decline. I mean, think of it: Aphrodite as a phone sex operator, Artemis as a dog walker, Eros as a born-again Christian convert who doesn't believe in Christ but really really wants to.
The story begins when Artemis discovers that her brother Apollo has turned Kate, a mortal female who had apparently resisted his lovemaking, into a tree. She and their aunt, Aphrodite, force Apollo to swear on the River Styx that he will refrain from harming any more mortals unnecessarily for a decade or until they get their power back, whichever comes first. Things get interesting when Artemis hires Alice, a mousy, almost unbelievably ordinary mortal woman, to clean house for them. Unfortunately, Apollo has fallen madly in love with Alice (aided by an arrow shot by a certain god of love who will remain nameless), but Alice is too much in love with Neal, a painfully shy guy who is too afraid of rejection to ask her out on a date though he pretty much adores her too.
As happened all too often in mythology when the gods played with human emotions and lives, the games take a deadly turn of events, and Neal has to make a choice to turn his back on Alice or become the most unlikely hero that ever was.