Present day. New York City. Private Investigator Selene DiSilva discovers the mutilated body of Helen Emerson, early one morning on the banks of the Hudson.
Extracted genitals, coupled with mythological paraphernalia, do not an ordinary murder make, but then DiSilva is no ordinary investigator. She is Artemis, the Greek goddess known as the Huntress, forced to live amongst the mortals since her father Zeus cast the gods from Olympus thousands of years ago.
Artemis’ first suspect is Professor Theo Schultz, a young, academically brilliant scholar with a tendency to talk himself into trouble. Schultz is innocent but has secrets of his own. Helen was Schultz’s ex-girlfriend and current fiancé of his good colleague, a fact that didn’t prevent Theo from spending the night with her a few weeks before she died. Fuelled by guilt, he promises Helen’s fiancé that he will bring her killer to justice, and thus casts himself in a sidekick role, as Artemis begins her investigations.
As bow-wielding heroines go, it would be easy to compare Artemis to Katniss Everdeen but weapon of choice aside, that’s where the similarities end. Whereas Everdeen was a reluctant hero, Artemis is resolute in her convictions. Faced with an ailing mother, conflict with her estranged brother Apollo, and the cold reality of an existence without affection (that’s what an ancient wish to keep your god-like virginity will do, folks) she remains committed to her cause regardless of the personal cost. In contrast the interminably likeable Theo, lurches from one disaster to the next as he is hounded by the police, shunned by his employers and denounced by the media as the ‘Pervy Professor’.
Brodsky carefully introduces supporting players as the plot unfolds, crafting each new character with a well-observed personality that never detracts from the pace of the narrative. The story itself hurtles through twists and turns, skilfully interweaving Artemis’ history as The Huntress, with a rising body count that builds towards a thrilling third act.
Brodsky is clearly having a ball exploring the history of the gods, revelling in their Olympian monikers whilst characterizing their present-day aliases in a fun, colourful way. The novel’s true masterstroke, however, is the way that it refuses to be weighed down by complicated mythology; the flashbacks to Artemis’ former life only serve to enhance the richness of the tale, often providing an explanation to her steely demeanour without lapsing into melodrama.
The concept of ancient gods walking amongst us isn’t a unique idea in the fantasy genre, but this a bold and entertaining debut, that neatly edges Thor to one side, as The Huntress firmly takes her place as the new god in town.
THE IMMORTALS / AUTHOR: JORDANNA MAX BRODSKY / PUBLISHER: ORBIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW