I’ve been teetering between a 4.5 and 5 stars, but the fact of the matter is this book held my attention for long enough that I devoured it in the span of hours. I liked the idea of this Dark Olympus, and seeing the politics play out in Neon Gods was cool, but Electric Idol made the whole thing make SENSE. I’ve always liked Psyche in NG, so her being fleshed out, AND being plus-sized and owning her body? Effing chef’s kiss just for that. Eros was great too, and I LIVED to see his inner mind madness; that boy literally spent most of his POVs looking blase and calm and collected, but meanwhile his mind is a burning dumpster fire of panic, it was GREAT. Both of them together? Yowza.
I actually didn’t have any interest in the next book, because the tropes hinted at in the jacket blurbs aren’t for me, but Helen plays a secondary role in EI, and I actually like her. Plus, I definitely want to read the book after that, because ANOTHER plus-sized MC, and it’s a Cassandra story! Needless to say, I’m invested now.
by Katee Robert
Sourcebooks, January 2022
adult fantasy, romance, mythology
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies
He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.
In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.
Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss.
I will admit that I had completely forgotten about my interest in continuing the Dark Olympus series, despite being entertained by the first book, Neon Gods. In my previous review, I had complained a little about how little we knew about the world and the structure of it when most of the focus was outside of Dark Olympus itself. (A lot of NG took place in the Undercity, which made sense, considering the situation Persephone found herself.) But I was curious, and if nothing else, the sexy times would probably be great. So when I found this book at the library on their “Newly Added” shelves, I took the opportunity to actually borrow it then and there, lest I forget again.
The myth Electric Idol is based on this time is the one about Cupid/Eros and Psyche. It’s almost similar to the “Beauty and the Beast” motif, and one can argue that it is exactly that. In the myth itself, Aphrodite–jealous of Psyche’s beauty–charges her son Eros to punish Psyche by making her fall in love with the ugliest creature known to man. But when Eros eventually makes his way down to shoot Psyche with one of his charmed arrows, he finds that he cannot do something so cruel to a creature so beautiful. His solution, then, is to sleep with her. Which he does. On one condition: that she should never look upon him when he stays with her at night. But ya know, shit goes wayside after that, because of course she looks. And when she sees that her husband is a bona fide god, all Olympus breaks loose, Eros disappears from her presence forever, and Psyche spends a majority of her time completing three impossible tasks in order to regain her one true love.
Unlike most of the Greek tragedies, Eros and Psyche’s story ends in a happily ever after, with Zeus himself giving permission for the two to officially marry. And what better way to complete this cycle but to have a wedding feast on top of that?
Like Neon Gods, Robert kind of plays loosely on the concept of the Eros and Psyche story. In EI, Aphrodite feels threatened by Psyche’s presence, but her main point of rivalry is that of Demeter. Thwarted by Demeter’s attempts to marry Psyche off to the new Zeus, Aphrodite asks her son–and her highly accomplished hitman–Eros to serve Psyche’s “heart on a platter.” By all intents and purposes, Eros goes off and tries to do so.
Pity that Psyche had gone out of her way to tend to his wounds only a few days before. Pity that for some reason, he can’t seem to take his mind off of the kindness this woman showed him despite her knowing that he’s the monster of Olympus. Much like the myth, Eros finds that there’s only one way out: if you can’t kill her, marry her.
But WAIT. Unlike the Psyche of the Greek stories, EI Psyche has a bit more will and stubbornness in her, and like her sister Persephone, she is capable of holding her own and navigating through the Dark Olympus politics. In fact, she revels in the game whereas Persephone hates playing it. And while she does acquiesce to Eros’ plan, Psyche is quick to make her own rules in order to protect herself.
That’s really where the fun begins. Because that tension between them. PHEW.
I loved this book, and it’s so surprising to me, because NG gave me little indication that I would. But where the shortcoming in NG was the politics, EI has the politics in droves. We got to see the dynamics of the Inner Circle. We were able to witness how the Thirteen worked within Olympus, including Hades. There was more exposition to a city that fascinated me, without compromising the love story unfolding between Eros and Psyche.
And let me talk about this couple for a second. Booooooy, are these two sexy as hell. Eros is the typical bad boy with no outward emotional range. He goes through life systematically, and has closed everyone around him off in order to protect himself and complete the dirty jobs his mother assigns him. When he starts getting to know Psyche, he begins to thaw out, and what we start to see is a mixture of this badass assassin with an actual, beating heart. I could have done without his constant pity party “how could he be loved by anyone, especially Psyche, because he’s such a monster” moments. Yes, his main arc deals with how he’s a monster, a beast. And how could anyone love a beast?
PSYCHE, on the other hand.
She’s my absolute favorite. Not only is she a confident plus-size main character, she’s also got enough confidence in her to be able to put herself on social media as an influencer–and a popular one at that. She is assertive when she needs to be, pushes back and challenges ideas she doesn’t agree with, and she’s just as much a strategist as her social-climbing mother. A lot of her story revolves around being able to master playing the Olympus game, and boy does she play it to her tune by the end.
Eros and Psyche together? Damn. That’s some steamy magic happening there. Let me not talk about the mirrors in Eros’ suite…IF YA KNOW YA KNOW.
5 out of 5 cookies! Granted, the story definitely deviates from the myth, but the skeleton is there.