Kate leaves the only life that she has ever know in New York City to take her mother home to the town where she grew up. It's her mom's dying wish, to be in the town where she grew up when the cancer finally takes her from this world. Kate's first priority is her mother, so making a life in Eden doesn't even cross her mind. But when Kate starts school she is pulled into a friendship with James, the sort of nerdy outcast, and Ava, the popular girl dating the popular boy. When Ava plays a nasty prank on Kate and is seriously injured, Kate must make a deal with Henry, the mysterious owner of Eden Hall, to save Ava. Kate agrees to give him anything. Henry tells her that all he wants of her is an exchange of her time and that if she looks up the legend of Persephone, she'll know what he wants and when she'll need to come to him. Kate goes to live in Eden Hall with Henry and finds that she must complete a series of tests to earn immortality and become Henry's partner, his queen. Henry is Hades, the god of the Underworld. He's been trying to find someone to help him rule the Underworld at his side for years but the girls never make it to the end of the testing. Someone keeps killing them and neither Henry nor his "family" know who is doing it. As Kate gets to know Henry, she falls hard for him and decides to do whatever she can to help him. Will Kate make it through the tests or will she meet the same end as the girls who preceded her? Will Henry feel the same way for her that she feels for him or will the ghost of Persephone, Henry's faithless former wife, be a constant third party in their relationship?
I loved this book! I can not say that enough. I have already cast my vote for this book as one of 2011's Best Books. I loved the new and different treatment of the Greek mythology. I also appreciated that Henry is more... believable and real than some of the interpretations. Hades isn't inherently evil, he is merely the god of the Underworld. He keeps the worst of the worst titans and villains in Tartarus and the neutral dead in the fields of Asphodel. He keeps order in the world by keeping the dead in the Underworld and the living above where they belong. Hades also sees that heroes and the virtuous dead go to the Elysian Fields. Hades even fathers at least 2 children, depending on the historian, including Melinoe the goddess of ghosts. I know some authors don't like to have their work compared to other authors but in this case, I can't help myself. I think that Rick Riordan's Hades is great because he feels real. His Hades looks a lot like a mob boss. He has slick black hair, wears suits and is a wicked negotiator. BUT he still cares for his demigod children and he loved Maria di Angelo so much that he still grieves for her decades after her death. Now, in Riordan's world and in most of the mythology, the gods can choose and change the form they take and if you had the choice, you'd want to be young. That is the great thing about Aimee Carter's Henry. His "family" are all different ages; some older, some younger, some middle aged. But Henry is young- I thought maybe early 20's- and I think that makes the most sense for someone who is "dating". I also liked seeing Hades as lonely because even though he is one of the three brothers who rule the Earth, he is seldom shown as a part of the Olympians. He is nearly always shown as separate. It would get lonely to be surrounded by the dead all the time, don't you think?
All told, this book is romantic but realistic. Kate falls in love over time and is not assured that her feelings are reciprocated. The tests and the murders are mysterious and you will be kept guessing until the end. I know I didn't see the ending coming. The whole story kept me enthralled. This book is appropriate for teen readers as there is a sexual situation but it is not graphic. You can follow Aimee Carter on Twitter, Goodreads and check out her website! There are three books planned for the Goddess Test Series and she's also got a dystopian series in the works. Keep your eye on Aimee Carter because she is going to be HUGE in the literary world.
The Goddess Test earns 5 Fairies for an amazing revamp of Greek myth and for Henry, the tender and loving lord of the underworld.