Miranda the Gayvenger's Reviews > The Dark Wife

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
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May 19, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, young-adult, yay-gay, sp-indie, mythology, romance-fantasy
Read from May 17 to 18, 2011 — I own a copy

I’ll just say it right off the bat: I really loved this book. A large part of my love comes from the fact that there are very few YA books that represent me. Most YA books that have gay main characters usually deal with the coming out issue, or having the main characters dealing with their sexuality. It’s always an “issues” book. I’m not saying those books are bad--far from it, I think we need those books if they help gay teens--but we also need books where the sexuality of the main character is nothing to really be commented on, and their life doesn’t completely revolve around it. The fact that a book exists that accomplishes this and is also a retelling of one of my favorite Greek myths? Consider me estatic.

I loved how Diemer expanded on the myth of Persephone and Hades, offering a version that could have happened but got misrepresented and misunderstood throughout time. Persephone’s myth is a little tricky to properly retell: Once you get her to the Underworld, what are you supposed to have her do? The original myth pretty much glosses over all that with a simple “she got homesick so she went back home for a bit”. Persephone does get a little homesick in this book, but it doesn’t force her home. It was a realistic reaction to being underground in a relatively dark place but she didn’t let it rule her. Diemer expands on Persephone’s time in the Underworld, having her learn how things work, taking an interest in the kingdom around her. She shows why Persephone will make a wonderful Queen of the Underworld by Hades’ side. Diemer doesn’t just expand on the Persephone myth, but also other various features of Greek mythology, right down to the Elysian Fields. It’s all believable and obviously well thought out.

As for characters the one I loved the most was Persephone, which is fitting. She’s a goddess who’s been sheltered her entire life, but she’s also compassionate and loving and, though she doesn’t think so, incredibly brave. Through her courage she changes the world she knows, from the Underworld to Olympus, and it was beautiful to read about. Her journey as a despairing woman who feels she has no control over her own life to a woman who reclaims herself--her agency and power and life--was very wonderfully done, and it was empowering as hell to read. All the main cast are wonderfully written, and Hades is no exception, a kind and compassionate goddess of the Underworld who loves her subjects even though they hate and fear her in return. The chemistry between Persephone and Hades was incredible, and you can see why they’d obviously work well together and be wonderful Queens. Also of note was how Demeter was changed from a controlling, selfish mother to one who couldn’t escape Zeus’ rule, so did her best to protect her daughter from the worst of it. There were quite a few scenes between Demeter and Persephone that made me tear up.

The writing was smooth and beautiful, the description vibrant. Though I admit I can see it not working for everyone--sometimes it does swing a little too close to purple prose--I was never particularly bothered by it, and in fact I rather loved it. I could easily envision myself in the Underworld, or the Immortals Forest, thanks to the clear description and atmosphere Diemer creates. The pacing was steady throughout with hardly a slow moment and Diemer packs a lot of stuff into a 250 page book, but none of it hardly ever felt rushed, save for the ending. The ending was a bit rushed and I do rather wish the resolution could have been fleshed out more, but the rest of the book more than makes up for that, by a longshot.

The Dark Wife was a beautiful, moving tale of a goddess finding herself in an unfair and cruel world, and reclaiming herself in the face of it. It’s definitely a must read for anyone interested in well done retellings, or a reader who’s looking for representation in a genre that only represents us a certain way. It’s a new favorite book of mine and I will eagerly devour anything else Sarah Diemer writes.
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Reading Progress

05/18 page 110
43.65% "Really enjoying it so far."
05/08 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Ceilidh (new)

Ceilidh Great review. This is probably the most talked about self published YA on the net right now and with a synopsis like that, how could anyone resist? I'm so glad LGBTQ YA is finding a profitable and marketable niche online and can only hope that the big publishers take notice.

Miranda the Gayvenger Thank you. :) It deserves to be talked about, and talked about widely. I'd love for it to get lots of recognition and for lots of people to read it. I do hope the big publishers take notice, too, because we need more books like this out in the market and on bookshelves.

message 3: by Jess (new) - added it

Jess Bought the book because of this review. Can't wait to read it!!! Thanks for reviewing it. :D

Miranda the Gayvenger YAY! Hope you enjoy it. <3

message 5: by S. (new) - added it

S. H. The first paragraph, about incidental sexuality - you put it into words! I've been trying to express the same idea for a long time! I want to frame it and put it on my wall, haha. Thank you! :-D

Paris Duvall Couldn't have said it better myself!

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