first published in the Brisbane Courier-Mail 29 July 2006
In a similar vein to chicken noodle soup, I have a store of comfort books, books to come home to at the end of a long day, or to cuddle in with on a Sunday afternoon.
I call them my hot chocolate reads, those novels that warrant reading and re-reading. There are very few surprises with hot chocolate and hot chocolate reads, but it doesn’t stop you from craving them when you’re looking for something warm, rich, and sweet.
For these cold, winter months, I find the perfect story in PC Cast’s Goddess of Spring. Not only is the title a cheerful reminder that the need for electric blankets will eventually fade, but the story itself draws on an ancient mythological promise that winter will end.
Lina’s bakery in Tulsa is not doing well, so stumbling across the Italian Goddess cookbook seems both a sign and a miracle, even if it means invoking a goddess to help with her baking. Ending up face to face with Demeter, however, is a bit of a shock.
Demeter is having troubles of her own. Although her daughter Persephone has more than a millennia of life behind her, she is still childish and frivolous, and completely irresponsible with her duties in the underworld. So Demeter proposes a switch. Persephone will take over in Tulsa and breathe new life into the bakery, if Lina will restore order to the underworld. Lina agrees, and is immediately whisked away to her new life, a life that includes dryads, three-headed dogs, and spirits. A new life that includes Hades, God of the underworld.
Of all the heroes I’ve read, Hades is one of my very favourites. Years of ruling the afterlife have left him rigid and distant, unable to trust light or laughter. Unlike most dark heroes, however, he is not hard, merely isolated. He is rooted in death, and fails to recognise the life around him. When Persephone returns, he is intrigued by the changes he sees in her, but never suspects that she might also invoke changes in him.
Goddess of Spring is, quite simply, a beautiful story. It is beautifully crafted, beautifully told, and, to complete the triumvirate, has a beautiful cover. The romance between Hades and Lina builds with laughter, and the growth it evokes in both characters is a pleasure to read. The ending is natural and satisfying, without the rush to tie things up neatly with magic—a trap that many paranormals seem to spring.
So next time you have a couple of spare hours, grab a quilt, a hot chocolate, and Goddess of Spring, and settle yourself down. You’ll never want winter to end.