REVIEW: the Gods of Love – Nicola Mostyn

Gods of Love

Author: Nicola Mostyn (website / twitter)

UK Publisher: Piatkus

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, humour

Buy now: ebook | paperback

Meet Frida: divorce lawyer, cynic and secret descendant of the immortal love god Eros. She’s about to have a really bad day . . .

When a handsome but clearly delusional man named Dan bursts into Frida’s office and insists that she is fated to save the world, she has him ejected faster than you can say ‘prenup’.

But a creepy meeting, a demon or three and one attempted kidnapping later, Frida is beginning to face the inconvenient truth: Dan is in fact The Oracle, the gods of Greek mythology are real and Frida herself appears to be everyone’s only hope.

The world is doomed.

The premise of this book absolutely tickled me. The child of a God of Love, working as a divorce lawyer? The absolutely level of cynicism that must be behind that character delighted me, and I bought it with very little hesitation. There are spoilers in this review, as there are particular elements I want to discuss, but hopefully not for anything too major.

I was slightly disappointed when I started reading to find that unfortunately Frida didn’t know she was descended from Eros, so whilst her choice of work might have been less than romantic, it wasn’t quite the rebellion against family tradition I had expected. I would have really enjoyed that narrative – “No, Dad, I’m sick of happy couples, divorce is so different and refreshing.”

That said, the narrative was still fun and the plot worked well. I loved Greek mythology as a kid, so I am never going to say no to a book that uses it. What was nice was that I actually learned something from it too – having encountered most of my mythology knowledge when I was younger, it was generally abridged (with most of the sex carefully glossed over), so whilst I had heard of Eros, I had never heard of Anteros, the antagonist of the book. That led me on a delightful sidetrip through Greek mythology, finding new information about stories I had previously read.

There are plenty of appearances from mythological figures too, to a greater or lesser extent. It’s almost a Who’s Who. Mostyn clearly knows her stuff about the monsters of mythology, and weaves it in neatly. Some things could be predicted if you had a knowledge of the stories, but Frida’s apparent lack of interest in the myths explains so much of her ignorance in what is coming next, and her feeling of out-of-depth helplessness.

I think this has definitely been set up for a sequel – there are enough threads that could be picked up and expanded on by the ending to allow room to manoeuvre with if Mostyn chose to continue it. If she didn’t, however, it also works well as a stand alone book.

Perhaps my only niggle is the relationship between Dan and Frida. The romance seemed an obvious plot development, however I will be honest I didn’t entirely feel the chemistry between the two of them. Perhaps this is because, given the nature of the situation, the flirting felt like it should have been lower priority so it seemed a little forced. Perhaps they would have benefited from drawing it out more slowly, across a couple of books, to get the real slow burn. The idea that Dan knows they will eventually be together whilst Frida is entirely unaware is such a great dynamic that could have really led to some wonderful scenes if it were played out over a longer period, but felt a little rushed when fitted in around quite a full plot.

There’s also not a hugely full sense of place – the city where the book is set isn’t ever named, which doesn’t necessarily impact the plot, but it does leave a feeling that something is missing because it isn’t grounded anywhere. Where a city name would normally be mentioned, it is glossed over, and that can feel a bit unnatural.

Automatically I want to consider it alongside Gods Behaving Badly, which came out several years ago and also features a modern world interacting with the ancient Greek Gods. That is set in London, and very strongly satirical, whilst also having similar nods to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. There’s actually not much to compare between the two, honestly, save the subject matter – tonally they are quite different. If you enjoyed that, you might enjoy the Gods of Love, although you might wish for a hundred extra pages or so to just slow the pacing down, in the way Gods Behaving Badly managed.

All in all, though, it’s a fun book where due diligence has been done on research, the plot keeps moving at a good pace and does have some fun surprises in it. I think there is definitely room for a sequel, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if one appeared.

Briefly:

  • A fun, light romp of a book, with consistent characterisation and good research into the subject matter.
  • It’s left open for a sequel, and I would like to see more world building in it, to give us a sense of context.
  • I also would like more balance given to the relationships, weaving it into the plot rather than trying to fit it in around the action.
  • If you liked Gods Behaving Badly, this is a completely different take which plays with a similar theme.

Rating: 4/5 – I enjoyed it, and I hope that the few niggles I have are addressed in any sequels.

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