I recently won the Spring Carnival giveaway on Books Devoured‘s stop of the hop, and the prize was a surprise book off of my Amazon wish list. Well, Shannon must be a mind reader, because she sent me the exact book that I’ve been hoping for. A mere two days after she emailed me to let me know I won,The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter arrived on my doorstep. I was in the middle of another book at the time, so I had to wait until Saturday to read it. Once I started, I read straight through, stopping only here and there to check email, feed my child, and help him drag his bike up and down the hill.

I’ve always been fascinated with all mythology, Greek in particular. The Greek gods were an interesting bunch, and aside from the Egyptians, their tales are the most vivid and detailed, in my opinion. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the Greek gods, in may ways, were the most human-like gods. They fell in love, betrayed each other,  got jealous, took revenge, started wars- just like humans. They weren’t above the petty behaviors that we exhibit on a daily basis. They were more realistic, or at least as realistic as any deity can be.

The Goddess Test doesn’t really follow traditional Greek mythology, especially since it takes major liberties with the Persephone/Hades myth. This didn’t bother me, because I feel there are many ways to interpret the ancient stories, but I thought I should warn Greek mythology purists. The story follows Kate Winters, an 18-year old girl who has spent the last four years of her life caring for her dying mother. When her mom asks to die in her childhood town, Kate drives her to the middle of Michigan to a leaky house and starts her senior year at a new school.

During her first week at school, Kate becomes the victim of a prank that goes very wrong, and she meets Henry, who just happens to be the God of the Underworld. Henry offers her a deal, and she takes it (actually, it ends up being two deals, but I don’t want to give away too many plot details). In exchange for keeping her mother alive, Kate must spend six months with Henry on his estate, which just happens to be populated primarily by dead people. Oh, and she has to pass a series of tests to determine if she’s worth co-ruling the dead. Should she fail even one, she’ll be sent back to the land of the living with no memory of her time there. To make matters worse, someone has either murdered or driven insane all the girls who attempted the task before her.

When I read that Kate would have to go through a series of tests, I was expecting something a little different, something more life threatening. But Kate’s tests aren’t really adventurous quests so much as tests of her character. Neither Kate nor the reader really sees them coming, and most of them we don’t really find out about until the end of the book. The story is more about Kate’s time in the manor, how she feels about Henry, and how she is learning to say goodbye to her mother. Despite the fact that it wasn’t what I expected, I wasn’t at all disappointed. I got a different story than I was looking for, but it was a good story nonetheless.

Kate was a very likable character. She was strong in her beliefs and fair in her judgments. She didn’t just dump all her preconceived notions about reality the moment a cute face showed up and spun an incredible story- she made him earn her trust. This is important to me, because too often teenagers are painted as these beings who will believe anything they’re told, as long as the one telling them is hot enough. The other characters in the book weren’t quite as vividly painted as Kate, and that was my only major issue with the book. I felt that the author could have done more to bring them to life, so to speak (despite the fact that most of them were either dead or never really “alive” in the first place). Aside from Kate, they all just seemed to be background characters, and it shouldn’t have been that way for some of them, especially given their important role in the book. Still, I read the entire book in one afternoon, so that should tell you something about it. It kept my attention and I’m already looking forward to book two.