Have you heard the one about the divorce lawyer who discovers she’s related to the Greek Gods, meets an Oracle and descends into the Underworld to recover a mythical arrow and prevent the evil God of Love from ruining civilisation with his high-tech company NeoStar (a kind of psychotic variation of Apple)? Of course, she initially finds the Oracle’s story quite hard to swallow but then, after being imprisoned in NeoStar’s offices and meeting the reluctant Goddess Psyche, she decides to accept her fate - only to wind up in even worse trouble when her mission into Hades doesn’t exactly go to plan…
Nicola Mostyn’s The Gods of Love is an enjoyable read and the author obviously knows her mythology inside-out, but as a novel, it’s so lightweight that it barely makes an impression. As a chick-lit fantasy, it’s playful and undemanding and ticks all the boxes but readers who are looking for more depth will find the predictability of the plot and the paper-thinness of the characters deeply frustrating.
Don’t get us wrong, at its heart The Gods of Love is a terrific idea - in our social media-driven world where true love is an endangered commodity, the premise of an embittered Cupid pulling the technological strings like some toga-wearing Steve Jobs is quite tantalising, and suggests an intriguing kind of Percy Jackson meets Sex and the City mash-up - but this is high-concept thinking that is entirely let down in the execution. For a start, Mostyn’s leading lady should be too smart to fall for any of this Greek Gods nonsense, but she’s won over surprisingly quickly. Secondly, although it’s made very clear that the villainous deity is too powerful to beat, there’s never any doubt that she’s going to beat him. Yes, there’s the overly-familiar end-of-second-act turn where she is briefly victorious before everything is snatched away from her (quite literally) and the odds seem insurmountable, but we don’t feel the tension or jeopardy in her defeat because we know she’s going to come back swinging within the next dozen pages. And the Wonder Woman-lite ending is a bit of a cop-out.
This is Clash of the Titans for the Love Actually generation - an interesting notion that could have been so much better.
THE GODS OF LOVE / AUTHOR: NICOLA MOSTYN / PUBLISHER: PIATKUS / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 1ST