Kate’s Review: “Lore Olympus: Volume 1”

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Book: “Lore Olympus: Volume 1” by Rachel Smythe

Publishing Info: Del Rey, November 2021

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice.

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

Review: It has come up before on this blog, but I absolutely adore the story of Hades and Persephone from Greek Mythology. That said, I am always VERY wary of new and updated takes on this myth, as I am always worried that well meaning creators will take this thousands of years old story and critique it through a modern day lens and decide that it is wholly unacceptable (and to be fair, it’s not like I can blame them because HOO BOY, the optics of it). I am always FAR more interested in adaptations that, instead of making it about grooming, abuse and uneven power dynamics, tap into the very ample potential of a story about a woman discovering her own power and coming into her own on her own terms and with agency… And yeah, it sure doesn’t hurt if there is some steamy romance involved (what can I say, I love a depressive demon nightmare boy and Hades is the originator). So when a Book Club friend asked me if I had heard of “Lore Olympus” and told me what it was, my first question was “okay…. you know my tastes with this story, am I going to like this?” And she said “OH yeah”. So I got “Volume One” from the library, and sat down one night intending to start it. But then I proceeded to finish it and ordered all available volumes to be added to my personal library. Suffice to say, I loved “Lore Olympus: Volume One”.

This is everything I need in a Persephone and Hades story. Everything. (source)

“Lore Olympus” is a long running web comic that takes on the Taking of Persephone with a lot of modern sensibilities, a distinct soap opera attitude, and a slow burn romance between two super different, super complex, and super likable Greek deities. The first is Hades, the sullen and emotionally damaged King of the Underworld. In this Hades is a corporate overlord who lives alone, tolerates his more fun loving brothers Zeus and Poseidon, dotes over his EXTENSIVE dog collection, and buries his past traumas of being a son of Kronos and ALL the baggage that entails. The other is Persephone, the goddess of Spring who has just come into her own, leaving a very sheltered life in the Mortal Realm to be roommates with Artemis on Olympus as she begins her studies and starts a (reluctant) journey to remain a maiden devoted to purity. Through a series of coincidences and the pettiness of other Gods, Hades and Persephone meet, and thus begins a very, very slow burn that brings in not only a VERY lovely romance, but also other well known deities and their nonsense, updated interpretations of various myths, and the start of a story of two people who have a deep, deep connection finding out things about each other as well as themselves. “Volume One” is setting up a lot of the groundwork, introducing us to a huge cast and a lot of settings, and it is done with a lot of heart, a lot of humor, and so many different emotional beats. I loved this start of getting to know both Persephone and Hades, seeing their aspirations and their slowly building friendship and the peeling back of their layers. I love how sad and awkward and brooding Hades is. I love how effervescent and charming and, shall I say, edgy Persephone is. I love that we are getting teasing moments about their characters and what multitudes they contain. I love how Rachel Smythe is being slow and deliberate as she starts to carefully explore the romance that these two will surely have. Because when they interact, it is such a joy.

I also really loved the way that Smythe brings in all sorts of other Greek Mythology players and inserts them into this modernish remix of the lore. You get some fun contemporary interpretations of these characters, like Zeus and Poseidon forcing Hades to attend rowdy brunches with them, or Artemis being a well meaning but condescending roommate, or Eros being a bit of a hot mess romantic (who is dealing with his OWN baggage, with hints to his messy relationship situation with Psyche, YES PLEASE, MY OTHER FAVORITE MYTH). But we also get some darker moments and characterizations, with Smythe turning well known players on their heads and making them more sinister. The most obvious example of this is Apollo, whose Golden Boy reputation hides a personality that oozes with malevolent privilege run amok. But my favorite was Hera, the long suffering wife of Zeus who, in original mythology, is always portrayed as a shrew of sorts. In “Lore Olympus” she definitely has a nasty streak, but you can tell that it is due to a deep unhappiness that she is living with, and not just because of her philandering husband. I really, REALLY love Hera in this series.

And finally, the artwork is very cute. Smythe has this really easy to connect to style, that can shift on a dime from cartoony and quirky humor to absolutely breathtaking imagery. The use of color is phenomenal and I just love how she has designed all of the characters.

We are off to a fantastic start in “Lore Olympus: Volume One”. I look forward to seeing how Hades and Persephone grow as a couple and as individuals.

Rating 10: BE STILL MY HADES/PERSEPHONE LOVING HEART. What a fun, emotional, and slow burn take on one of my favorite Greek Myths of all time.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Lore Olympus: Volume One” is included on the Goodreads lists “Greek Mythology Retellings!”, and “Hades and Persephone”.

4 thoughts on “Kate’s Review: “Lore Olympus: Volume 1””

  1. YES! I was so late to the Lore Olympus fandom as well, but now I am 3 books in and deeply in love. Also, if you play video games, consider checking out Hades which has a deeply satisfying storyline as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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