Monday, February 23, 2009

The Surrender of Persephone: A Review

The Surrender of Persephone by Selena Kitt (2009; Phaze Books) retells the Classical Greek myth of the virgin goddess of spring, Persephone, and her abduction by the god of the Underworld, Hades. In myth, Persephone grows into her role as queen of the Underworld to become a powerful and mysterious goddess. In Kitt's uncensored version, Persephone chafes at her mother Demeter's restrictiveness and dim view of males, both human and divine.

On her way to gather wild flowers for her mother's harvest festival, Persephone pauses to watch a mortal laborer bathe in a stream, entranced by his beauty. She gets sidetracked by the goddesses Artemis and Athena, "virgin" goddesses who are off-limits to males but more than happy to dally with other immortal women. Despite such pleasurable divine intervention, Persephone still wonders, "Will the ache between my thighs only be satisfied by a man?"

Up from the depths of the earth comes Hades, also known as Aidon. He lifts Persephone into his chariot and takes her to the eerily lovely splendor of his Underworld kingdom, the land of the dead. In his mind, this is a perfectly acceptable arranged marriage, a deal between Aidon and Persephone's father Zeus. Persephone feels a mixture of fear and attraction to the handsome, amber-eyed god. Slowly, he introduces her to a world of sensual delights balanced with controlled pain.

I'm not usually a fan of books about bondage, dominance and submission. If I were, I would probably prefer the women on top. Aidon dominates Persephone, and from Kitt's skillful writing, it is also abundantly clear he loves her. The couple comes to love one another and seem to be meant to be together. The sweetness balances the S+M themes.

Only two things slightly mar this darkly romantic tale. One is the implied heterosexism. Why shouldn't Persephone's encounters with Athena and Artemis be as satisfying as her encounters with Aidon? The other is Debi Lewis's cover art. The models are beautiful, but don't quite match the book's descriptions of its divine beings.

Otherwise, The Surrender of Persephone is a highly enjoyable erotic romance. Pour yourself a nice glass of pomegranate juice and settle in for a good read.