A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.
As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.
Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.
But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.
A YA mythology/romance that retells the myth of Eros and Psyche with adventure, magic, and true love.
The era of retelling old myths has been alive and going for some time now with hits and misses along the way depending on the writer’s talent or interest in ancient folklore. This one has the makings to be on the interesting side: royalty, man-eating serpent, curses, magic and that oft used theme of love.
This is a take on the myth of Eros (more commonly known as Cupid) and Psyche. If you don’t remember, or never knew the myth, I’ll give you my personality infused rundown of the love story between the son of Aphrodite and a beautiful human girl who was the youngest daughter of a King and so beautiful stories of her were spread throughout the land.
People began saying she was more beautiful than the goddess of beauty – Aphrodite herself. This angered Aphrodite because she of course is a goddess and no mere human is going to be fairer than her. She sent her son, Eros, to force Psyche to fall in love with the most horrid creature possible as punishment for winning the genetic lottery.
Well Eros couldn’t do it since he fell for her too. Psyche couldn’t find anyone to love her for more than her beauty so her father went to another god, Apollo, who prophesized that Psyche would need to be taken to a mountain top, left there alone and a serpent far worse than the gods would come take her for his wife. The King actually did leave his daughter there alone to befall her fate.
One day she’s whisked off to this enchanting place where she never sees her husband; only hears a voice. To lessen her sadness her sisters come visit but she’s warned by this mysterious husband of hers not to let her sisters push her into anything or she will ruin the incredibly odd marriage she has. They manipulate her into believing she’s married to that dreaded serpent from the prophecy so she lights a candle one night to see who she’s been sleeping with and discovers it’s Eros who leaves her because she didn’t trust him enough to not care who she was married to without proof.
After he abandons her she goes to Aphrodite and begs her mother-in-law for help who like most stereotypical mother-in-law’s wants to make her suffer. MIL tells her she has to complete 3 tasks or she’ll never see Eros again. Psyche does it but that just pisses off Mommy Dearest even more. The rest of the In-Laws had to intervene and tell Eros how his mom was abusing Psyche. He decided to forgive his wife, got pissed at his mom, Zeus made Psyche a goddess and everyone lived happily ever after.
In Burke’s story Psyche becomes Laidra, Eros is now Calen, Zeus is Jovan and Aphrodite is Zephia. Their personalities and other traits are altered too. Calen really is the ‘dreaded’ snake and a twin. Laidra is beyond repulsive covered in hair and warts with a withered body; like Calen is also a twin. Each set of twins was gifted/cursed with a mirror consequence. For every person Laidra helped she became uglier. For every person her sister hurt she became more beautiful. When Calen is around people he becomes a monster; a serpent so he must remain alone. When his brother is around people he remains a normal man but when he is alone he becomes a monster.
An oracle is consulted and they are told that a princess must be dangled in front of the Serpent. Laidra ends up on the island with Calen but can’t look at him only hear his voice. For love to be proven true three seemingly impossible tasks, including one of collecting water into a flask, must be done – another similarity to the original story.
Like with any mythology there will be characters you love, others you hate and some who bring out a bit of both. Thankfully Burke writes with a quick pace as the dialogue and action moves the story along with little drag. Certain sections I found more interesting than others simply because some of the characters were so hateful and egotistical it was easy to grow tired of their storylines quite quickly but eventually even their horrid personalities are needed to bring everything together. Myths were used to teach lessons and this one is no different.
Thank you to Netgalley and Uncommon Universes Press for allowing me to review this!
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