Artemis in the Modern World
The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
from Orbit Books 2016*
Urban Fantasy Meets American crime show à la Castle, with a dash of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon, and Greek mythos
*Orbit Books provided a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Jordanna Max Brodsky's The Immortals delivers a quick-paced urban fantasy that will also satisfy your crime-loving sweet tooth. This is the first book in the Olympus Bound trilogy and is a solid debut novel.
Set in modern day Manhattan, despite the trend toward faith in science and technology, the old gods are still entangled in human lives. The book follows Selene DiSilva who serves up vigilante justice in defense of abused women. When Selene stumbles upon the gruesomely mutilated body of a woman, wreathed in laurel and other ancient symbols, she realizes this is more than a byproduct of the modern city. Selene recognizes the subtleties and specifics in the murder as references to ancient Greek traditions meant to honor the gods, including the goddess Artemis - her true name and personage. Reawakened to her godhood, Selene vows to hunt the murderer and seek vengeance for the victim and for the defilement of sacraments to the moon goddess. Enter stage right: Theodore Schultz, a Columbia Classics professor knowledgeable about ancient Greek rites and customs - also Selene's unlikely human sidekick. Schultz worked with the victim at Columbia and likewise vows to hunt down her murderer using his knowledge of Greek myths and history.
First, this book is a lot of fun. The kind of book you binge read in the summer with a snack nearby while catching some sun.
I enjoyed how Brodsky played with how the Greek gods and goddesses would interact in the modern U.S. Seemingly, Brodsky thought of answers to numerous questions that reader might have about the world building in this urban fantasy, such as: Why are a majority of the Greek gods living in the United States? Why aren't the gods as powerful and influential as they once were? How might they look and what would their occupation be? I'll leave these answers up-in-the-air and not ruin the surprise.
Moreover, as a self-proclaimed history nerd I enjoyed how ancient history was brought into the book and that Theo, the sidekick, is a professor! I love seeing how academia is portrayed and how historical knowledge can be useful. Crime-fighting history nerds for the win!
Though I enjoyed the ride, there were a few dissatisfying parts. I found it difficult to empathize with Selene. She is written to be a standoffish, powerful, celibate woman, who finds men irritating at best, monstrous at worst. There's very little tenderness, warmth, or well, humanity to be infested in. As this is the first book in the trilogy is seems that Brodsky is working toward how Selene balances her harsher attributes with a newer softer human side. I found Theo to be the character I could most readily understand and follow throughout the story and was at times put out that the story shifted back to Selene. However, as mentioned above there was character development with Selene and she begins to gain both her identity and her humanity by the end of the novel. I'm interested to see how this develops in the next book.
Moreover, it seemed to me that many of the clues and conundrums were solved fairly easily and I kept thinking to myself, "How convenient!". This isn't a huge problem, but mystery/crime readers might not be impressed with the detective work. I worked out who the villain was pretty early on, which can happen with mysteries so it's not a knock on the writer. Rather I don't think it's a strong attribute. Again, this might be remedied in future books.
All this being said, I found The Immortals to be an enjoyable and light read. It's a fun urban fantasy that picks out key elements in other works and genres and reworks it into a new story.