ARC REVIEW #154: Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) by Kendare Blake

Title: Antigoddess
Series: Goddess War #1
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Pages: 336, Hardcover
Source: ARC obtained at BEA

Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

“Fate has its way. Fair or unfair doesn’t matter.”
Kendare Blake's work is many things, but above all else, it is original. She has a way of writing what's never been written and she certainly isn't afraid to take risks. Antigoddess is no exception.

This is not your average take on Greek Mythology. In this book, the Gods are dying, each in a way fitting to the lives they have lived. For Athena, she is slowly suffocating on the feathers of owls, her faithful servants.
“Athena smiles. Then she coughed. At first it was just a light tickle in her throat, but it got worse. She felt something moving, coming loose down in her right lung. It itched. She coughed harder, until she was bent over, hacking.
‘Athena!’ Odysseus held her by the shoulder. She took great, whooping breaths; her coughs sounded like something ripping a bed sheet.
Finally she sputtered. She’d managed to dislodge it and worked it up her throat. Her fingers fished around on her tongue, and held the feather in front of her face.
Just one, and mostly white, with a little brown speckling at the edges. Only the shallowest bit of the left side had any blood or tissue stuck to it. The rest was just wet.”
The slow death of the Gods has sparked a war, and sides are forming. Athena refuses to go quietly and without a fight. Her search for answers and allies causes her to seek the reincarnated Cassandra of Troy, a prophetess and supposed-weapon. But not only is Cassandra ignorant of her past life and potential, she is guarded by Apollo, who cares nothing for war over Cassandra's own safety. Meanwhile, there are other gods who will do whatever it takes to stop her and take the girl for themselves.
This is not a tale of love and happiness, but rather a tale of war and death. And it reads as such. There is a sinister feel to the story, as if all events are cast in shadow. It is almost depressing but purposefully so.  
“’There was a time when we mattered,’ said Athena, but Hermes shook his head.
‘No. There was a time when we lived. Rather than just existed. But that hasn’t been for centuries. I walked with mortals, played with them, ate with them. I’ve used up more of them than I can count or remember. But I stopped living. Look at us, Athena. No family, no friends-‘
‘You’re my family. You’re my friend.’
He squinted at her and smiled sarcastically. ‘You need a helping hand and I’m afraid of dying. You can’t fight alone and I don’t want to be alone. We call each other ‘sister’ and ‘brother’ but I don’t know if that means anything, Maybe it never did. Gods are cold. War, killing, and stabbing each other in the back is really what we do best.’
‘What he said was true enough. What they were probably wasn’t worth saving. But it didn’t mean she would let herself go.”
The imagery in this story was wonderful - very dark and ominous - which was fitting for the mood. Her descriptions and details really made the scenes jump from the pages of the book. 
“The old woman stood in the middle of the road as though dazed. Her arms hung slack at her sides, and she swayed on her feet, which were planted wide apart. Something was off. Something wrong. The vacant way she stared at the car made Cassandra want to crawl under the seat.
‘What’s the matter with her face?’ Henry asked. As they watched, the old woman’s cheeks began to sag. The lines became deeper, and the corners pulled down until her mouth was a leering scowl. Then it dripped off, leaving behind a wet, black spot.
‘Get it in gear, Aidan.’ Andie said shrilly as more of the old woman’s face detached and hit the pavement. All of her skin liquefied; her hair slid down her head to reveal the skull beneath: obsidian black and covered in slime and scales.”
And Blake does not forgo humor. She manages to humanize the gods and make them relatable. Since they have slowly been becoming less than what they once where, it works. They didn't go from all powerful gods to barely more than human in a day. It was a such a slow decay that they almost forget their former glory. And I just loved the dialogue with them poking fun at themselves. 
“’Everything born must die,’ she repeated. ‘But I sprang fully formed from our father’s head. So that doesn’t exactly count, now does it?’”

“’Don’t question me. I’m a god. Dammit.’”

“’Who do you think we are?’ Athena asked. She was genuinely curious. No mortal should recognize her, or Hermes either. They looked nothing like any of their paintings and statues. No vacant eyes or marble butt-cheeks.”
“’You turned me into a cherry snow cone.’ Athena gestured to her bleeding head. ‘Why should I do you any favors?’”
But, and I say this with regret, this book didn't 'wow' me. I hate to admit it but there were times when I was simply bored, just waiting for something to happen, or some of my questions to be answered. And I REALLY struggled with understanding the 'why' behind this story. Why are they dying? Why are they fighting each other? Why will killing one another prolong their life? Why are some of them not dying? Why Why Why! None of this was really explained. We were only given slightly vague and puzzles references.
“’The Twilight of the gods,’ Demeter said when the rumbling had stopped. ‘But not all of the gods. Some of us are the bitches of fate and will persevere.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean you’re not fighting our deaths. You’re fighting a war. A war against your own. And you will lose.’”
Antigoddess definitely has its appeal but ultimately something was missing for me to really love it. And the lack of information was a hurdle I just couldn't overcome.



  1. Oh that's kind of a bummer!!! I know this was a really widely anticipated release so that's just a bit disappointing that it wasn't a "wow" book for you. I'm definitely still curious because the concept does sound interesting and I feel like I could easily get into it... As long as the plot keeps moving (and has answers). Good to know!! :)

    1. It is a bummer. I loved Kendare Blake's Anna series so maybe that skewed my expectations for this one. I am definitely curious to see what others think of this book. I still plan on reading the next one, I just hope we get more in the way of explanation.

  2. Oh, sorry it wasn't impressive but good to know it had its appeals. I like the cover and description so maybe i'll give it a go.

    Good review :)

    1. You should! I think this book still had a lot of good and I think the series holds potential.

  3. I'm super sad that the book didn't end up explaining much about why things were happening. That always bothers me too. I think I'll still read this one, (because of the interesting premise and the fact that I love mythology books) but I'm not going to rush to get a copy when it comes out. I have other higher priority books. :)

    1. I look forward to seeing what you think of it! I still liked it, it just wasn't as great as I had hoped after loving her Anna series. And I really struggled with the 'Why' the whole time.

  4. I am a huge fan of Anna Dressed in Blood, so this one was a no-brainer for me. It immediately went on the TBR. I haven't read it yet, but I still plan to. IT does sadden me that the reviews for this one aren't quite as fantastic as the reviews for Anna. Still, this woman is a master at writing and telling an amazing story. I may just wait until the second book is out, so that maybe there will be more answers than there seems to be!


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