Hey there guys! Today’s review is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to be doing quick reviews of the three books in the Blooming Goddess trilogy by Tellulah Darling, followed by a series overview. This series is a Hades and Persephone retelling with a twist and lots and lots and lots of swooning and sassing. This will all be spoiler free, even in the later reviews!
Romeo and Juliet had it easy.
Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy teen yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world.
This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed. All she’s gotta do is master her powers, save the world…
…and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld.
My Ex From Hell is a YA romantic comedy, Greek mythology smackdown, perfect for everyone who loves sassy girls that kick butt and the bad boys who infuriate them.
I wrote a longer review of this book (linked above) when I participated in the blog tour for it’s initial release. Honestly, I’m not sure if I would have picked it up otherwise. It sounded a little corny to me–and I love me a sassy YA heroine.
It was pure joy to read. My original rating was 3 1/2 stars, and I totally stick to that. These aren’t the best books, writing wise, that I’ve ever read. I’ll be totally honest about that. However, in terms of shear reading enjoyment? They’re one of the best. The main character, Sophie, is the quintessential sassy main character on steroids, and there is no one getting in her way. The book reads hyper fast, with plenty of action, humor and romance to go around.
The book has its issues with infodumping and some 2D characters. Strangely, the romance is one that I don’t have as many issues with. There’s kind of a weird love triangle between Kai, Sophie and Sophie’s-past-self-as-Persephone, but honestly it made the story kind of cool. Sophie wants to be loved for just who she is and won’t compromise that. Kai comes off as a stereotypical bad boy, but he gets some layers that push him past the cliche.
All in all? This is great, gooey, mind candy that leaves me laughing and looking for more!
I’m not going to put in the Goodreads description for spoilers sake, but you can clink the title above to check it out. The basic premise of this, without spoiling most of the first book, is that Kai and Sophie end up in a bit of a pickle that leaves them requesting Aphrodite’s help. Surprise surprise, the goddess of love pops them both with arrows because she’s tired of them resisting each other. Kai and Sophie keep resisting, with hilarious results.
Originally, I honestly didn’t give this book as high a rating as the first book. I think I rated it 2 stars on Goodreads? Well, time has changed my mind. This is the book where the romance between Kai and Sophie really kicks off, but not in the sappy “they learn to love each other” kind of way that happens every other time. I mean, sure, that happens, but while they’re trying to resist these freaky lust arrows they’ve been shot with while trying to save the world while trying to deal with the specter of Persephone. It’s hilarious, it’s swoon worthy, and it’s SO MUCH FUN.
Other favorite characters of mine in this series–Theo and Hannah–also get beaus in this book, which means that it’s this crazy romance romp with the book’s trademark sass and humor. Yes, the romance come too easily and there isn’t a lot of depth to these, but that’s okay. If you’re after depth, look elsewhere. I’ve been upfront about that.
This book also shows us a lot more of the Greek pantheon, who are hilariously characterized by Darling. Sometimes they do seem a bit over the top, but in this book that’s not out of the norm. Some of the ones you meet in this book are Zeus, Hades, Eros, Hermes, Hephestos and, of course, Aphrodite.
Bottom line on this one? It’s fluffy, romance/relationship building filler that mostly is just set up for the third book but is really fun and cute and swoony.
The spoiler free byline of this novel is pretty simple: the time to save the world is come, but Sophie … isn’t exactly ready. This one is above and beyond my favorite, even if some of it does feel like a weird filler story.
The reason is because of what Darling does with her characters. Up until this point, it’s all kind of felt like fun and fluffy giggles when it comes to interpersonal relationships, whether it be romantic or not. In this one, the stakes go UP. Sophie, especially, is rocked by huge problems and heart breaking reveals, but she isn’t the only one. No, it isn’t like this huge EMOTIONS moment, because the books don’t work like that, but it does create a much richer reading experience that is really great to see.
Plus, as always the highlight, Sophie and Kai’s relationship continues to evolve. They don’t just waltz right over to the lovey-dovey stage. They have to fight to get there, and to get there together, and that was nice to see. When I started reading, I would never have believed that their romance wouldn’t just be a giant cliche. Is it in places? Yes. Is it very much not in other, much bigger places? Absolutely.
The ending, too, comes in perfect Sophie fashion. Love or hate the way that these books are written, but they are always, always true to the character of Sophie and the person that she is and the sassy, sarcastic and humorous tone that has been established from day one.
At the end of the day? The middle might sag, but I still love it lots. Very, very happy with it.
Overall Series Review:
I fully admit that these are not the best books I’ve ever read. The writing style is a bit over the top sometimes, the characters aren’t exactly full 3D, and the plot is more of a fantastical romp than a well thought out adventure. This is the rom-com version of this myth. It is pure joy to read, like eating a whole bag of M&Ms in one sitting.
I’m a huge stickler for bad YA books. I call it like I see it all the time. But I am here to tell you that these books are just too damn fun, hilarious and swoony to hate. They do interesting things with the myth and the Greek pantheon, presenting it all in a way that I’d never seen before.
Best of all, I’m just in love with Sophie and Kai. Are they pretty cliche sometimes? Yeah. But they’re relationship honestly has more struggles, issues and real moments of growth and romantic coming together than a lot of other YA books that I’ve read. They aren’t just instantly in love. They have to fight through their past to build a better future, and that’s pretty cool.
Even better, Sophie as a main character stands on her own. This might be a rom-com, but it’s SOPHIE’S rom-com, not Sophie/Kai’s. The story is about them loving each other and saving the world together, yes, but it’s even more about Sophie coming into her own and learning to understand and love who she is. This theme gets a little aggressive about itself in the final book, but I like it. It was refreshing to see it step away from the romance like that.
I re-read this series over break because I needed something with a fun romance that would make me laugh out loud. I read the first book back in 2013, and they still never disappoint. They are what they are, love it or hate it. Better still, they OWN what they are. Sometimes, pure mind candy is EXACTLY what you need.