I received an ARC of Abandon from the publisher, and was intrigued enough by the premise to dive in. It’s marketed as “the myth of Persephone… darkly reimagined.”
For those not familiar with the myth, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus, King of the Gods, and Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. While Persephone is out in a meadow, picking flowers or something, a chasm splits the earth and out rides Hades, God of the Dead and King of the Underworld. He wants her to become his bride, so he abducts her and drags her down to the Underworld. While down in the Underworld, Hades tricks Persephone into doing what a living soul should never do in the Land of the Dead–eating some of the food. She swallows about five pomegranate seeds (it depends on the retelling), and these seeds force her to return to the Underworld for that many months out of the year. Her mother, Demeter, gets so upset each time that she makes the earth barren while her daughter is gone. Hence, the seasons.
Now, before you cry, “Spoilers!” and clap your hands over your eyes, Abandon most definitely reimagines this myth. That is, even if you know the myth inside and out, the book deviates far from that story and inserts metaphors of its own. Persephone, in this case, is Pierce Oliviera, the daughter of the short-tempered CEO of a huge corporation and a scientist/philanthropist obsessed with saving the habitat of the roseate spoonbill. Not exactly Zeus and Demeter, though now that I think about it, there are some subtle parallels. And yes, Pierce dies and comes back. But there’s no pomegranate, and Hades… well, we have tall, dark, and silver-eyed John Hayden, who spends a fair amount of the book being wild and mysterious.
While reading Abandon, I enjoyed my time on Isla Huesos, a lushly described island south of Florida with deathly secrets of its own, and kept wondering when we would know more about John’s past–most of his personality is mystery. The story intrigued me with its hints of bigger things to come, but when I got to the end, the bigger things still hadn’t come. It feels like the real story doesn’t start till book two. Sigh. I’ll be checking out the sequel, though I wish Abandon could have promised less and given more. Overall, a skillfully-written story with appeal for fans of Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush.