Gods Behaving Badly – Marie Phillips – 7/10

GBB Summary (from the blurb): Being immortal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Life’s hard for a Greek god in the 21st century: nobody believes in you any more, even your own family doesn’t respect you, and you’re stuck in a dilapidated hovel in north London with too many siblings and not enough hot water. But for Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator) and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic) there’s no way out… Until a meek cleaner and her would-be boyfriend come into their lives, and turn the world literally upside down.

I read this because it’s written by Marie Phillips, who co-hosts the Firestation Book Swap with Scott Pack, to which I have never been but heard lots and lots about via Scott’s blog. I know, a tenuous connection. But I thought I’d throw in some extra links. The premise of this is fabulous – Greek gods stuck in the 21st century. It took about 100 pages to get the characters developed to the point where the plot could begin, which I found a little irritating, but once the plot got going there was no putting it down.

Artemis doesn’t get much publicity anywhere else, so I was glad to see her as the protagonist here, although Phillips gives Aphrodite and Apollo star billings too. There were no serious deviations from any of the attributed characteristics (except for Eros becoming Christian, which provided a well-placed, semi-serious counter-thread), which helped with getting things moving because the reader already “knows” most of the characters, and besides, I would have been very upset had Athena  been a B-grade student suddenly.

The two main mortals were well drawn too (and I loved the first few pages, in which Apollo has turned a Goldman Sachs mergers & acquisitions employee called Kate into a tree) – both very nervous, shy but good-hearted people. Of course they both end up helping the gods and discovering their strength along the way.

There were some classic lines (which I ended up photographing on my phone because I was reading this on the Tube and didn’t have my sticky notes… got some funny looks from other passengers…):

“That god has all the morality of a rabbit”

“hair the colour of blackmail”

“a face that could sink ships”

And of course Artemis’ favourite film is Clash of the Titans. Angel Tube station is the entrance to the Underworld – appropriate, given that it features the longest escalators in Western Europe.

What surprised me as a plot flaw was that none of the mortals had heard of any of the Greek gods, but I suppose it was a necessity to get the plot going forwards.

A fun read with some clever sparks of writing tucked away.

Reviews by other bloggers: Sandy at You GOTTA Read This

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