Katee Robert writes absolutely delightful candy. Her books are scorching hot and her sexual politics are good. She respectfully writes messy, complicated characters with scars (emotional and physical), but keeps it light enough not to be retraumatizing. I don’t become immersed in her worlds, but I do go back to them for escape and comfort.
I was introduced to her Wicked Villains stories, which recasts the villains of Disney movies as the actual good guys. They live in a divided city with Hades sex club as their neutral territory. Neon Gods is in the same world, but a different city – Olympus. This is a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth, but with a lot more sex and and Persephone has agency. You don’t have to know the myth to appreciate the story, but Robert works in a lot of elements that lovers of the mythology will appreciate.
If Olympus is ruled by the Thirteen, the Thirteen are ruled by Zeus. It’s a legacy role, one passed from parent to child, the bloodline stretching back to the first founding of the city. Our current Zeus has held his position for decades, ever since he took over at thirty. He’s somewhere north of sixty now. I suppose he’s attractive enough if one likes big barrel-chested white men with great boisterous laughs and beards gone winter-gray. He makes my skin crawl.
Persephone’s mother has arranged her marriage to Zeus, which would make her the next Hera. Zeus has had previous wives and there are whispers that their deaths were intentional. Persephone flees and is rescued by Hades. when she crosses the River Styx. She makes a deal that she hopes will keep her safe from Zeus and allow Hades to get revenge. The deal keeps them in proximity to each other and of course they catch feelings.
Neon Gods would be a great entry point for a new Katee Robert reader. It may share a universe with her Wicked Villains and Sabine Valley (a retelling of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with a lot less singing and dancing) series, but it is not dependent on them. It might be my favorite of Robert’s books. She balances the world building, relationships, and sexy times really well. Hades and Persephone are a nuanced grumpy/sunshine paring. They each understand the power of image and see the person beneath the mask. The ways they choose to be vulnerable gets pretty swoony.
I suspect this is going to be another addictive series from Robert. I’m already looking forward to how she’s going to retell Orpheus and Eurydice. Neon Gods is available June 1.
I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.