A few years ago I purchased a lovely little lot of books at an auction, and among them was a beautifully bound edition of “Chrysomela, A Selection from the Lyrical Poems of Robert Herrick.” The poems were chosen and introduced by Francis Turner Palgrave, the famous anthologist, and I enjoyed reading the charming and quaintly antiquated prose of his preface. One phrase in particular struck me as being quite apropos of Molly’s style, as well as of Herrick’s poems:
[T]he power to describe men and things as the poet sees them with simple sincerity, insight and grace: to paint scenes and imaginations as perfect organic wholes; -- carrying with it the gift to clothe each picture, as if by unerring instinct, in fit metrical form, giving to each its own music; beginning without affectation, and rounding off without effort; - the power, in a word, to leave simplicity, sanity, and beauty as the last impressions lingering on our minds ...Let me give an example of why I find Molly’s prose (and okay, maybe it’s not “metrical,” technically, lol, but it IS lyrical!) so enchanting, and so powerfully able to pull you into the emotional world she’s created:
Lute music rose from somewhere near, and the smell of sweet incense and drying autumn leaves curled into the darkening sky. Her feet moved that direction, the domestic magic of a mortal city pulling her in.Like our dear friend Francis said, simple, vivid and graceful. I love that about Molly’s evocative way with words.
This is the second volume in Molly’s Chrysomelia series (the series’ title is what made me think of the Herrick book, obvs), and it’s not a stand-alone, but rather a welcome continuation of the story that began in Persephone’s Orchard, the first book in the series. It begins, like the first book,in media res, only this time the “res” is one of sweet intimacy and tenderness, the culmination of the tentative and touching relationship between Persephone and Hades (the originals). And the narrative again moves between the remembered past of Hades, Persephone and their peers, and the story of Adrian and Sophie, the contemporary counterparts of their ancient incarnations. Things aren’t easy for Adrian and Sophie (relationship status: complicated) this time around. The story starts with Sophie feeling “betrayed, or at least left out,” when inveterate trickster Niko bestows the gift of immortality on two others by stealing and sharing with them the underworld orange Adrian meant for Sophie. And Thanatos, the deadly antagonist whose violence ended the first book, has stepped up its game in ways that rock the characters' stability and emotions. The addition of more characters and points of view make this a deeper and more rewarding reading experience than Persephone’s Orchard, in some ways. The character of Hekate (she’s the titular Underworld’s Daughter, btw) both in the past, and in the now, is richly imagined and endearing, full of mystery, grace, intelligence and emotion. She’s just a really cool person, and an awesome addition to the cast. Dionysos (and his contemporary counterpart) is a fun and kind of frustrating character, full of fun and frivolity but also fractured and flawed in ways that make him/her, real and relatable.
“The past is never dead, it’s not even past,” said Faulkner, and that would be a fitting epigraph for this series, in which the events of the past echo and resonate in the now. Molly’s artfulness in setting patterns of relationships and events in ways that illuminate each other, create foreshadowing and dramatic tension is an especially enjoyable element of the book (cf. Demeter confronting the newlyweds in the Underworld with Sophie’s dad discovering Adrian in her room over Thanksgiving break, just for one delicious example).
So just to be clear, I loved this book. But be forewarned, it is the second volume in a three book series (“Frodo was alive, but taken by the enemy,” remember?), and as such, there are unresolved story lines and emotions at the end. I can’t say I was disappointed exactly, but man, it is going to be a long wait till next June.
Who's That Girl?I’m a huge Molly Ringle fan, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a link to my interview with her from a
couple years ago. Take a read, learn about her other amazing books, and first literary success, winner of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Award for worst first sentence!
Giveaways!Last but not least, please enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at winning one of two sets of Persephone’s Orchard and Underworld’s Daughter: the entries are simple. You’ll need to follow (or already be following) three people on Twitter: me (@flybrariman); Molly (@MollyRingle) and Michelle Halket, Molly’s editor at Central Avenue Publishing (@CentAvePub). I’m including Michelle because (a) she’s awesome, and (b) because Central Avenue Publishing has lots of other cool authors you should check out (one of their books I really liked was Across the Hall, by N.M. Facile, here’s my Goodreads review!). And just in case you don’t win my Rafflecopter, Central Avenue Publishing is running a really cool one, with some extra swag thrown in (that Greek coin necklace looks really cool, right?)(the picture is of all their swag, mine's just for the books). Good luck to all, thanks for entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway