I've followed Katee Robert on TikTok for a while now, and I can't believe I'm only just now reading one of her books!!
Persephone is a society darling, the daughter of Demeter, and finds herself surprise engaged to Zeus. Not wanting be married off to the Bluebeard of Olympus, Persephone runs away and finds herself in the lower city, the realm of the mythical Hades. When he turns out to be more than myth, though, Persephone comes up with a plan that will make sure she frees herself of Olympus forever.
So, no kink-shaming here, but voyeurism isn't for me. I'm not gonna yuck anyone's yum, though, and the sex scenes were written so well compared to other smut I've read (cough cough, The Love Hypothesis). The voyeurism isn't really a downside so much as a warning: there's a lot and if it's not for you, you might not enjoy like 40% of this book.
The worldbuilding also leaves something to be desired, even though I didn't pick up this SMUT BOOK for plot. It's a lovely surprise, though, and I feel like Robert is going to get more into it in the next books. This is a 7 book series, after all, and while it took me a min to figure out the different power dynamics and stuff, it made a good basis that future books can build off of. Again, the lack of worldbuilding isn't so much a downside as it is a warning; this is a HEAVILY SMUTTY book, after all.
Sometimes the writing really got to me, but that's just my thing and nothing against Robert. I hate repeat words that stick out to me, and 'fore' really got me in this one. It's not a word I'm used to seeing, so it jumped out every time it was used, and it's one of my pet peeves. Again, nothing against Robert or her writing style/vocab, this was just a very small thing that bothered me.
Okay, I liked the overall book so much more than I thought I would, especially since it came out in a time where everyone and their mom was writing a Hades x Persephone novel. This book had it all: sex, politics, intrigue, murder, mafia romance plotpoints, etc. the added bonus of all the characters coming from Greek mythology just made it that more interesting.
I loved Hades and Persephone's dynamic, and it's so important in a dark romance to have consent pushed so heavily. You'd think dark romance and consent would go hand in hand, but no, it's not something super common, and that's so frustrating. But the romance between Hades and Persephone was well-built, and it was healthy. You can tell Robert knows how to write HEALTHY dark romance (unlike some people -- EL James, eat your heart out).
There was a little thing that bothered me about Hades, which was his capacity for violence. He’s supposed to be this dark character that scares everyone in the Upper City, but when we see him with Persephone and his people, he’s nothing but compassionate. It just made it seem like Robert wanted him to be this dangerous guy who makes exceptions for his people and Persephone, but he only shoots one person. It felt very mob boss, but like Robert didn’t want to full send, which is fine! But a little…confusing I guess.
Callisto is my favorite sister and, since mythology has her hooking up with Zeus, I am really excited about the potential of her and Perseus.
Also there’s a fake dating trope! Technically. I think moreso in the second book with Eros and Psyche, but I really like the twist Robert put on the trope, because it needs a healthy revamp since everyone and their mother is writing romances with fake dating these days.
I saw a TikTok today from @sabiesbooks talking about how she immediately sets books down if the white characters aren't described the same as the Black characters (i.e. bc it's automatically assumed everyone's white until otherwise stated) and Neon Gods is an example for that statement. But like I know I've said in previous posts: this should be the bare minimum for white authors. It's so easy to make your stories equitable and inclusive without stepping over lines (like Taylor Jenkins Reid -- @exclusivepalmbeachliving has excellent videos on this) and staying in your lane.
Anyway. I really liked the book, so much that I got the next two that are out. I'm not sure how I'm going to like Wicked Beauty, but we'll see.
Did I like? Yes, absolutely.
Would I recommend? Also yes, especially if you’re interested in a healthy dark romance, or really like smut. But also keep an open mind, because even though this wasn’t one of my kinks, it was still really good.
Trigger warnings: alcohol, blood (not much), cursing, death (brief), injury/injury detail (concerning feet), war (discussed, possible), violence (between a main character and minor antagonists), classism, drug use (I think? briefly mentioned), gun violence (twice, on page), kidnapping (alleged, NOT the main couple), misogyny (Zeus), physical abuse (Zeus), murder (Zeus), and sexual content (ALL THE TIME. EVERYWHERE), vomit, forced marriage (Zeus), drunkenness