Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Length: 293 pages
“Become immortal or die trying” says the cover of this Harlequin Teen novel. Kate and her mom move back to her mom’s childhood home in tiny Eden, Michigan. A valid premise for any teen novel, but it gets more complicated. Kate’s mom is dying of cancer, and Kate wants to spend all her time with her mom, rather than trying to make friends at a new school. Normally I don’t like books where the premise involves anyone dying, but I was willing to give this one a chance because of Henry. Not a pale, tortured vampire, but a dark, brooding god of the Underworld. Excellent.
After Henry demonstrates that he can bring people back from the dead, he offers Kate a choice. He’ll keep Kate’s mother alive as long as Kate agrees to live with him for six months of the year and pass seven tests. Failing any test means death for Kate’s mother…and Henry too. But if she passes, she becomes Henry’s bride and a goddess.
As a practiced reader, I was more than willing to suspend my disbelief and accept that Henry was Hades, god of the dead. Yay for more Greek mythology! However, it took Kate 136 pages to accept this. 136 pages of her doubting what I had accepted when reading the back of the book was frustrating, and it was hard for me to get into the book at first. But as I read on, I came to accept that was just part of Kate’s personality. She’s a little obtuse, but also very selfless, and she grew on me as the book went on, especially as she learns to accept things, and learns to value her own life, not just the lives of people she’s trying to save (her mother, Henry, and the list goes on). Because it turns out that it’s not just Kate versus 7 tests, it’s Kate versus a mystery person trying to kill her before she passes the tests. Just in case it wasn’t hard already.
The moments between Henry (who is still working on getting over Persephone) and Kate were some of the strongest in the book. There was also some good betrayal and plot twists in the novel to keep a reader interested. And of course the major questions: will she pass the tests in time or will she die trying?
This this is fun book, especially if you’re into mythology and romance. And apparently it’s the first in a series, because YA rarely does solo books these days.