Summertime reading catch-up: Jordanna Max Brodsky’s ‘Winter of the Gods’

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Orbit/2017

I was excited to read and review Jordanna Max Brodsky’s Winter of the Gods. I loved the first book of the series, The Immortals: Imagine a feminist DaVinci Code written by a woman who cares about intersectionality and doing some actual research. (I know, right?) No shade to Dan Brown—well, maybe a little, though I sincerely enjoyed the Robert Langdon series.

Brodsky’s Olympus Bound series follows the goddess Artemis, now living in present-day New York City, going by the name Selene, and working as a private investigator for women who need her help. For the most part, that means scaring away abusive exes by any means necessary. In The Immortals, when Selene uncovered a cult killing off innocent New Yorkers, she and classics professor Theo Schultz followed the clues and stopped the killers. Oh, the trope reversal! Slightly bumbling yet attractive male sidekick who defers to the strong, acerbic, secretive main female character? Where had this book been all my life?

In this second Olympus Bound book, Selene and Theo are invited to consult on another murder case. The victim this time is a relative of Selene’s—one of the original Greek gods. Selene has more to worry about now that she and her family might be in danger.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and much of what I loved about the first continued into the second. Brodsky presents her intense research organically: I never felt like I was reading a research project but still found myself learning about Greek mythology. The characters are complicated and well-rounded. The tension ebbs and flows, both in narrative and subtext, and keeps you turning the pages.

I wish the book contained and explored more female-female relationships. There were some fantastic female main and side characters, but it never felt like there were situations where we got to see them interacting together beyond a brief conversation or two—most of the plot was driven by male characters. It seems like exploring the various female relationships would have been a natural way for the novel to progress, and I found myself surprised by this lack.

The last quarter or so seemed a little rushed and at odds with the rest of the novel. Questions that characters had been hand-wringing over for hundreds of pages were suddenly acted upon, relationships that had been built over the course of two novels changed, and I found myself missing the emotional response to those changes. There could be reasons for the seemingly out-of-character responses, but by the end of the novel, I don’t know if I ever came to understand why.

Ultimately, I enjoyed the first novel in this series more than I enjoyed the second, but I still want to get my hands on the next book—set for release next February—to see if the problems I saw arising at the end of Winter of the Gods will be explored.

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