A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair Book Review

I was pulled in again to another Hades and Persephone retelling. I just can’t stay away. A Touch of Darkness takes the myths and legends of these two notorious Greek Gods and puts them in a modern setting, letting their relationship grow around conflict and passion. I can’t resist stories that take a more nuanced look at Hades, instead of portraying him as evil through and through. I love the idea that Hades fell in love with Persephone and genuinely cares for her.

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a Goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

A Touch of Darkness reminds me a lot of another retelling, Lore Olympus. Both place Persephone as a college student and Hades as a wealthy business owner. Both place Minthe as the jealous ex-lover that sparks Persephone’s jealousy. Both have Persephone fearing her mother and the restrictions on her freedom that Demeter has no problem putting on her. I must admit, I do need to look more into the myths to see just what the original stories were and their details, but the bedrock of this story makes for a fascinating and passionate romance of taboo.

I think what I love about this one though is how St. Clair balances the different aspects of Hades to make him such a well rounded character. He’s clever, charming, and respectful but also prone to violence, passion, and darkness. If you’re looking for the perfect dark, morally-gray love interest, you really have to look no further than Hades. I love how he embraces the mask of the manipulative “deal with the devil” character while at the same time caring deeply about the souls in his care, finding ways to better a human’s life in ways they may not be ready to face.

They say Hades is protective of his realm, and while that is true, it isn’t about power. He cares for his people, protects them, and he takes it personally if anyone is harmed. If you belong to him, he will tear the world apart to save you.

– Scarlett St. Clair, A Touch of Darkness

Persephone is a great character herself. Her passion, grit, and tenacity make her a great foil to Hades. She’s drawn to him but also craves freedom. She seeks power but lacks the self-confidence to create it for herself. In this way, Hades sees a chance to push her to her limit, both to fulfill his own desires and give her a chance to fulfill hers. I love seeing them pitted against each other, pushing each other to be vulnerable and passionate, to question their own beliefs. This is the marker of a great relationship.

If you’re also looking for a passionate and fairly spicy romance, A Touch of Darkness has that too. In terms of tropes, this is an enemies-to-lovers story about fated mates. Their passion burns fiercely for one another, but their caution makes the anticipation of when they finally get together all the more sweeter. I wouldn’t call this a smutty romance per se, but it definitely has enough variety of sex to satisfy those readers that need that edge of spice in their romances.

I’m equally interested in seeing where the story goes as it relates to Persephone stepping into her role as Queen of the Underworld, her growing powers, and potential conflict or political intrigue with the other Gods. St. Clair also has another book from Hades point of view that I plan on reading soon, that may point to more important events going on in the background that are only hinted at here.

If you’ve had a chance to read A Touch of Darkness, let me know what you thought in the comments and any other retellings you might recommend.

~~Thanks for Reading!~~

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