When the mutilated body of Helen Emerson washes up in New York’s Riverside Park, it’s not just the city detectives who are on the case. Selene DiSilva, a striking figure with jet black hair and silver eyes, has a special interest in the crime. A former cop, Selene has made it her mission to protect women against violence and she’s not about to let this murder go unsolved. Clues point to a violent cult ritual and Selene knows she must act before more women become victims.
The above description could outline all kinds of murder mysteries, but The Immortals is an altogether different kind of story because Selene is no mortal. She is a modern-day Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto and goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals. Selene and her family of gods and goddesses are using aliases and living in New York and around the world. Although they aren’t exactly close, these Greek deities are connected by thousands of years of family dynamics, complicated relationships and rivalries. Imagine carrying around all that family baggage!
Selene is drawn deeper into the mystery when she learns that Helen had been obsessively researching papyri fragments found in an ancient Hellenistic city. And shocking details about a second murder convince Selene that the people behind this violence are reenacting the Eleusinian Mysteries, a ten-day ceremony and “the most important religious ritual in ancient Athens and the surrounding area for almost two thousand years.” This connection to the Mysteries will bring Selene’s dysfunctional family together in new ways.
While it may sound great to be immortal, Selene and her extended family have found themselves in a strange state. Their godly powers are fading and they are coping with the very human side of aging. Selene’s senses aren’t quite as strong, her strength has diminished and she’s noticed lines and wrinkles in the mirror. Caught somewhere between being mortal and immortal, she wonders if she can do enough.
She has help from Professor Theodore Schultz, a classics expert at Columbia. This unlikely duo combine their knowledge and connections to chase after the cult before its next sacrifice. There are plenty of twists, turns and road blocks in this race to stop the hierophant and his followers. Selene and Theo land in a multitude of dangerous situations, complicated by Selene’s sudden and inexplicable strengthening powers.
The Immortals is more than an action thriller, however, as its characters navigate through relationships, family issues, university politics, love and forgiveness. Romantic tension torments Selene, who has kept her vow of chastity for thousands of years, a promise that landed her long-ago love, Orion, in the heavens, twinkling down at her. And Selene’s bitter rivalry with her twin brother Paul has modern relevance despite its ancient history.
In addition to these sub-plots, Brodsky introduces the interesting conflict between a world shared by gods and mortals and the idea that academics view myths as manmade creations, “not to be taken literally, but to be torn apart and dissected and put back together.” Who’s to say the gods aren’t living among us?
I thoroughly enjoyed The Immortals. It’s an ambitious but fun combination of mythology, mystery, romance and real-life figures in the modern world. It’s full of facts about Greek mythology, but don’t worry about keeping up. The author explains and repeats enough so you will soon understand the dynamics. I loved the author’s descriptions of New York and how she places scenes at interesting places in the city, especially the City Hall subway station, the secret railway beneath the Waldorf Astoria, Central Park waterfalls and a hidden cave. It’s exciting to imagine Brodsky’s story at these sites:
In addition, Selene’s character is nicely introduced in this Olympus Bound series. She’s a strong female, but a long-time loner and her lack of social skills can get her into trouble, especially when it comes to romance. I’m looking forward to seeing how this endearing character manages in Book Two – Winter of the Gods.
If you liked my review of The Immortals, you may also be interested in these preview posts of Brodsky’s book.
You may also enjoy visiting these sites about New York:
From Wikipedia.org – City Hall (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
From DailyMail.com – “The secret railway under the Waldorf Astoria: Siding used by Roosevelt to hide his paralysis found beneath New York Hotel”
From RoadTrippers.com – “Shhhh! These are the best-kept secrets of New York’s Central Park”
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