Book Reviews

Book Review: A Game of Fate

Title: A Game of Fate
Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical fiction, Romance

What It’s About: Hades, the God of the Underworld, meets with Sisyphus de Ephyra to deal with him over the business empire that Sisyphus has created, one that was built on drugs and the suffering of the individuals of New Greece. Sisyphus has broken one of the most ancient rules of hospitality–the law of Xenia–by killing his competition after inviting him onto his own territory. Hades warns Sisyphus that he will pay for the trespass, and tells him that he does not have much longer to live, as after all Hades can see the future of the souls.

He returns to his club Nevernight, and hides out in his office to think about all of the deals that people will come seeking from him at the club. His assistant, Minthe, a nymph, comes in and lets him know that Aphrodite is here to see him. He goes to see her, and they play, with Aphrodite striking a bargain with him–he has to make someone fall in love with him in six months or he brings back her own lover from the dead, despite Aphrodite being married to Hephaestus. He agrees to the bargain, and heads back up to his office, where he leans over the railing. It is then that Hades’ eyes are drawn to a beautiful blonde girl wearing a pink dress. He realizes that he is having a very primal reaction to the girl, one of possession, and unravels the glamour that is hiding the unseen threads of fate from the visible world. It is then that he realizes that a thread is connecting him and the girl–she is meant for him and he has waited an eternity to have someone love him and he love her back.

The girl ends up in the gambling den, and asks him if he could teach her how to play the cards. Intrigued, Hades agrees to explain the game to her, and offers that anytime one of them wins a hand, they’ll answer a question. She agrees, and he is able to see the girl’s soul–from which he’s certain that she has Demeter’s magic, and is a Goddess of Spring who does not believe in herself so she has stunted flowers. They continue playing the card game, until she asks him a question about Hades, at which point, he reveals that he is Hades. She runs away from him, but not before he marks her so that she comes back to him. He continues to bargain with other mortals over card games, before he teleports to the Library where the Fates are located and asks about the girl. Her name is Persephone, and the Fates confirm that she is a Goddess of Spring. He visits Hecate, the Goddess of Witchcraft, who lives in his realm, and tells her about the situation with Persephone, before he heads out to Tartarus, where he tortures the soul of the man that Sisyphus killed.

He wants to know their connection to the Triad, a group of Impious mortals who opposed the gods, demanding fairness, freewill, and other demands–and they tended to be dangerous, wanting to overthrow the Gods. The man doesn’t tell Hades anything more beyond saying that War is coming. By the time that Hades is finished with the torture of the man, it is almost noon, and he’s about to go to sleep when Minthe tells him that the girl from the evening was here demanding to see him. Hades teleports to his club, Nevernight, where he finds that one of the ogres in his employ has choked Persephone, and tells him that he will deal with him later.

Persephone demands that Hades removes the marks from her wrist–he tells her that he cannot until she finishes the contract, and it has to be one of his choosing. He tells her that she has six months to create life in the Underworld. Persephone agrees to that as well as to giving him a favor-something that he can request at a future time and that has to be honored. He tells her to come back the next day so that he can take her to the Underworld to see where she can create life, and Persephone reminds him that she can only do that after class, which he agrees with.

After he sees the car carrying Persephone disappear around the corner, Minthe tells him that Thanatos, the God of Death, has been waiting for him in the Throne Room, so Hades teleports there. Thanatos gives him the news that the Fates are in an uproar, because Atropos’ shears had been broken, and together they head over to Fates’ island, where the Fates tell him that they went to cut Sisyphus’ thread, only for it to be reinforced and resulting to the destruction of Atrophos’ shears. They threaten him with unravelling the thread connecting him and Persephone if he is not able to get Sisyphus, and kill him. Hades does not want that to happen, so he goes to Hephaestus and asks him to repair the shears but also to create a weapon that does not kill but forces the person to tell the truth.

Sure enough, Hephaestus comes through with manacles of Truth–that force the wearer’s powers to be weakened and also for the person to tell the truth. Hephaestus tests out the shackles on Hades, from the minute he shows up at the forge the following day, and asks Hades if he has slept with Aphrodite. Hades cannot help but answer truthfully, at which point Hephaestus releases him from the shackles. Hades also sees Persephone show up with Adonis in his office wanting to interview him for an article–she is a journalism student after all. She returns later in the evening but goes straight to the underworld and gets rescued by Hermes from the waters of the Lethe. Hades heals her, and lets her rest before he shows her the Underworld.

They end up having a spat, and he wants to teach her a lesson so he revokes her favor that will not allow her to enter and leave the club and the underworld freely, and when they finally have the conversation, she asks him to also not walk away when he’s angry or hurt. He agrees to it, and they become closer.

Hades sees Poseidon and Helios asking about where Sisyphus is hiding, using the shackles on Poseidon to get the truth out of him and stealing Helios’ prized cattle. With Poseidon’s help, he sets up a meeting with Sisyphus, which turns out to be a golem–fake copy of him–and then gets called into court in Olympia over the cattle issue. He also creates a project for his foundation with the sole purpose of creating a rehabilitation center for the mortals with whom he bargains for something. This project was inspired by Persephone’s words about doing better and helping those who suffer addiction through rehabilitation, as well as her very scathing article on him. In the meantime, he watches as Persephone becomes friends with Hecate and Hermes, and also the people of Asphodel Fields as well as the souls come to love her. She plans a ball for the souls that are being reincarnated, and Hades is part of that in his Divine form, along with her. By this point, they have had sex a couple of times, and he can tell her feelings for him, but he has his doubts about whether he’s good enough for her. They decide to do a date, and Persephone tells him that she enjoys baking, so he asks her to teach him how to bake. He shows up at her house in sweatpants and a shirt, where they bake cookies together, before having sex in her room. At this point, Demeter shows up and accuses Hades of defiling her daughter, telling him to stay away from her. An argument ensues, and Demeter strips Persephone of her favor–the one that gave Persephone the glamour. Hades goes to Olympia, knowing that this will be an issue at court, and sure enough Demeter is complaining to Zeus. Ultimately Zeus rules in Hades’ favor, when Hades tells him that Persephone has willingly come to him.

Hades is able to find Sisyphus, but the man escapes thanks to Minthe, who has been going around gossiping mean things about Persephone. He finds out thanks to Hecate who tells him what is going on, and these two things result in him stripping Minthe of his favor. The woman is shocked because she thinks that Persephone is not good enough for him, but that she is because of a one-night stand they had several years ago, even though Hades never acted upon it since. He is glad to be rid of her after all the warnings he had given her over the months previously regarding Persephone, and the fact that she is to be their Queen.

Nearly six months had passed by this point, and Persephone has fallen in love with Hades–Aphrodite had asked and found it to be true, so she shows up at Hades’ nightclub to tell him that he’s won the bet. But she reveals that she had told Persephone about the bet that she had made with him about having someone fall in love with him. This angers him, and he sees Persephone. They have sex but she gets angry at him about the whole bet, and the fact that she loves him despite everything. In anger, she makes vines grow out of the ground, trapping him, thus creating life. Her contract has been completed, and she is free to leave. Hades does not stop her even though it does gut him.

He had put out an offer to Sisyphus for immortality, which Sisyphus shows up for but then tries to backstab Hades by pulling a gun out on him. In the end Sisyphus ends up dying, just as the Fates had requested, but Hades has no idea on what to do with Persephone. It is Hecate who tells him that he needs to tell Persephone that he loves her, because he hadn’t done that even when she had told him that she loved him. Hecate tells him that she will send him a flare of magic when she finds Persephone and does that, leading him to a cafe where the two women are talking. Persephone tells Hecate that she doesn’t think Hades loves her, otherwise he would have come found her, to which Hecate responds that she may have gotten her wish. Persephone turns around to see Hades, and runs to him.

Hades visits Orpheus–a man that had come to him in front of Persephone, requesting to trade his life for his wife’s life. At the time Hades had disregarded his request, and Persephone argued why he couldn’t at least meet the mortal with a compromise by showing him his wife in the Underworld so that he could get closure. Hades asks Orpheus why he carries guilt with him, to which Orpheus responds that he feels guilty for living his life while the love of his life had died, and every moment that he lives, he just feels guilty knowing that she is not experiencing this with him. While Hades cannot grant Orpheus his original request, he does grant Orpheus a 24 hour stay with his wife in the Underworld.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the book and I loved seeing this Greek Mythology stuff from the perspective of the God. Of course, there are some weird things that I’m questioning about it–apparently all the Gods and Goddesses have horns on their heads as a sign of Divinity, which I don’t recall being the case in the original myths, and Hades specifically can turn his fingers into screw-like spikes, which sounds terrifying and a bit ridiculous? But I really enjoyed his moody, and broody personality, and can’t wait to see more of him in the near future.

The verdict however, is out on whether this is better than the other series from Persephone’s perspective. I guess we’ll see.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Game of Fate”

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