When Gwen’s mother died she was claimed by the Mythos Academy. An Academy that teaches young, magically gifted warriors to be ready to fight Chaos as has been their solemn duty for centuries
But Gwen, with her powers of psychometry and no magical history or culture felt very out of place among the affluent, strong and powerful valkyries and spartans of the Mythos Academy
And never did this rift loom so large than when one of their class is killed and her war torn peers seem to not even care. It’s left to her to investigate and find the actual truth
I can’t even begin to review this book without addressing the great big elephant in the room and the problem is it underpins a lot of the whole book.
A core concept of this book is that the magical kids in this school are have magical gifts based on the mythological, legendary warriors of the past. This works for the valkyries with their super strength. And the Amazons with their super speed. But then we have the Romans, Celts and Spartans… these are actual people? Also I question why your legendary super-warriors for men are actual historical people. While your magical warrior women are mythological? I don’t think it’s intentional and there’s no actual sense that there’s a magical divide between men and women: but I think it kind of sends a weird message that awesome warrior women are… well… fictional… while awesome warrior men are historical.
But then there’s Gwen. Gwen’s magical gift is psychometry - she can touch things and get sensation and images off it. Her mother and grandmother also had psychic gifts like this. And they are called Gypsies.
Argh, no. First of all that word is not neutral, it’s a slur used to denigrate, demean, insult and perpetuate no small number of myths against the Romani people. And Romani are not legendary, mythological or even historical people - they’re an ethnic group, a highly discriminated against ethnicity that faces incredible amounts of persecution as well as really damaging stereotypes. One of which is this pervasive fortune teller/woo-woo depiction - this is damaging
But to top this off, I honestly think the author may not know this. And by “this” I mean that Romani actually exist. There is no suggestion, not one tiny suggestion, that Gwen, her mother or grandmother are Romani. There’s no suggestion that them calling themselves “Gypsy” applies to anything BUT their woo-woo. There’s even a line:
“I didn’t know exactly what made us Gypsies. We didn’t act like any Gypsies I’d ever read about. We didn’t live in wagons or wander from town to town or cheat people out of their money.”
I… no… just no. Really, appropriating a slur and then trotting out of all of these insults and stereotypes while completely ignoring actual Romani people is beyond not ok.
Getting past this is difficult, but when you do there is a somewhat intriguing story and world here. Though I would like more development of this world. We have the concept of the pantheon and the big bad god spreading chaos which isn’t exactly original. Which is why I would have quite liked to have examined what all these gods - or what all the individual powers were and meant.
There were some excellent moments of examining the idea of these very spoilt, privileged kids who, at the same time, were so innured to loss and conflict, which in turn expanded on the idea of why they are being so very spoiled; indulgent parents who are very aware their kids may not reach adulthood.