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Elisa S. Amore, Kiera Legend, Demigods Academy (Series, Book 2): Year Two, Amore Publishing, 2019, 226 pp.
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Ayelet Peer, Bar Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Lisa Maurice, Bar Ilan University, email@example.com
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elisa S. Amore
, b. 1984
Elisa S. Amore is an Italian best-selling novelist of young adult fantasy who resides in Switzerland. She is the author of the internationally successful supernatural saga Touched. In 2016 her books were translated to English.
She was named by the American online Fantasy Magazine as "the undisputed queen of romantic fantasy." In 2016 Amore’s books were translated to English.
Source: https://elisasamore.com/about-elisa/ (accessed: November 23, 2020).
Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University, email@example.com
Kiera Legend (Author)
Kiera Legend writes urban fantasy and paranormal novels. Among her books are "The Citadel" series.
Source: https://www.kieralegend.com/about/ (accessed: November 23, 2020).
Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Melany Richmond is an 18-year-old orphan girl from Pecunia. Melany enters the Gods academy in order to train as a soldier for the Gods' Army. After successfully finishing all of her final exams, Melany is claimed by Hades during the end of the year's ceremony. Each student is allocated to a different god for their future training, but, since Hades is not an official member of the academy, he is not even allowed to enter it. His demand causes a stir amongst the gods and students, and Aphrodite and Ares vociferously demand Melany's expulsion. In the end, Zeus consults with Hades and agrees to the latter's request.
Hades then brings Melany to his Hall outside (or more correctly, in the depths below) the academy, where she meets his skeletal butler, Charon. Charon frightens Melany at first with his appearance, yet she learns to appreciate his help. Both Hades and his home are described as gothic yet elegant and fashionable, mysterious and seductive. Melany is delighted to see the large suite and all the clothes she receives from him since she was not used to living in luxury. Yet at the same time, she is afraid and saddened to leave her friends behind and is anxious to know what Hades' plans for her may be.
Soon after her arrival, Melany begins her training at Hades' Hall. She is tutored by the three Furies, Allecto, Tisiphone and Megaera. The four develop a closer relationship and even become somewhat fond of each other as time passes.
Melany thinks she has only been a couple of weeks in Hades' Hall, yet it has been two months. She manages to obtain Hades' consent to visit her friends back at the academy, but she feels different as if she has changed somehow. She is stronger, fiercer and perceived as dangerous by her peers. While she still has feelings for Lucian, the handsome trainee she fell in love with in the previous book and who was recruited to be under Zeus' mentorship. She gradually becomes more infatuated with Hades and is torn between these two, very different, love interests.
Hades instructs Melany to create an invisibility helmet like his and Hephaestus helps her. He constantly alludes at trouble at the academy, yet does not fully explain. Melany uses the helmet to spy on Aphrodite and Ares in Aphrodite’s room, yet Aphrodite senses her presence, morphs into a giant snake and almost kills Melany. Melany hears mention of a Chimera but is not sure and later passes out from the pain. Aphrodite manages to persuade Zeus that Melany was trying to harm her but Hades saves her from any punishment. In one of her unseen visits to the academy, Melany overhears Demeter and Dionysus talk about Persephone and how Melany resembles her and is even dressed like her. Curious about her, Melany sneaks into Hades' room and finds letters from Persephone, but Hades catches her and refuses to reveal anything about Persephone's identity or their relationship, stating only that he loved her. He is angry with Melany for intruding on his privacy.
In the final chapters, Melany and the furies join a group from the academy who went to assist firefighters on earth tackling a fierce fire that has broken out. They discover, however, that it is no ordinary fire, but a fire-breathing Chimera. While Melany asks the furies for help, Lucian faces it alone and when Melany arrives they fight together. Suddenly, Lucian is attacked by the Chimera's snaky tale and falls. He closes his eyes while Melany holds him.
As in the previous book, this book focuses on Melany's growth as a person as well as a young woman. She gradually learns to accept herself, even her darker sides.
Melany's growing attachment to Hades causes her internal struggle. He is her mentor and teacher, as well as an older god, and she is fascinated by him. It appears as if Lucian symbolizes her teenage crush while Hades poses a greater challenge or even threat, a more mature feeling, even a violent one.
"Hades intrigued me. But he also scared me. Because I felt drawn to him, and I didn’t know why." [p. 23].
Melany's emotions torment her, she tries to fight her desire for Hades and is not sure what he truly feels for her, if anything. "Could a God like Hades truly care? About the world? About me?" [p. 130]. Hades is presented as Zeus' rival in leading the academy and Melany wonders which of the two is right and what is truly going on between them. While it seems that Hades is the more shadowy character (in more senses than one), it is Zeus who acts suspiciously, especially in regard to Aphrodite. Zeus seems to accept Aphrodite's claims against Melany and does not punish her for her action. As Lisa Maurice notes, this series can be perceived as part of the post-modern trend towards inverting traditional stereotypes and depictions, in which Zeus is bad and Hades good. For example the TV series Lucifer, Kate McMullan's Myth-O-Mania books, etc.
Melany is worried that she is changing, becoming more violent, with uncontrollable blood lust. Her friends tell her she became different and she fears this change, yet is also intrigued by it. She wonders whether she truly belongs in the shadows. As Hades tells her, "'Darkness is not this bad thing as most people would have you believe. As the other Gods like to blather on about.' He shook his head sadly. 'Darkness is power and strength and stealth'" [p. 27]. In training combat at the academy, Melany reveals her fierce powers and harms her opponent. Her conduct engenders fear in the other students. "Everyone gathered around me but didn't come too close. I saw looks of anger and fear on some faces. Before I could catch it, gratification swelled in my chest at the terror I'd invoked. Allec, Tis, and Meg would be proud of me. I couldn't wait to return home to tell them." [p. 123]. We see that for Melany, her close friends, to whom she refers with nicknames, become the Furies, not her old school friends.
During Melany's stay at Hades' Hall, the author accentuates the different food she is served. This recalls the story of Persephone. We can perhaps parallel the stories of Persephone and Melany. While Persephone in this book is a mysterious figure, whose presence looms in the background, the mythological Persephone had a different experience from Melany. While both were claimed by Hades, Melany seems more willing to go with him and even enjoys her time in the underworld more than her time at the academy, quite the opposite of Persephone. Yet when Melany wonders whether she could return to the academy, Hades replies, "There is no going back, Melany. That's not how it works anymore. You're in my charge now. You're my protégé" [p. 23]. Hence, Melany can be seen as Hades' prisoner and at first, she resents being in the underworld; yet as her infatuation with him grows, she becomes more accustomed and comfortable in his realm. Melany does not visit the underworld itself or encounter the souls in it; Hades' activities in the underworld realm are not explained to the reader, who learns only of his splendid dwelling.
Hades is presented as a dark handsome and mainly sexy character, his dress often described as gothic. He acts mysteriously, his motives remain a secret, yet he appears to genuinely care for Melany, hence he can be cast as the "good guy" in opposition to Zeus being the "bad guy" in this story. His connection with Persephone appears to be based on true love (in contrast to the Greek myth). While he dwells in the underworld he is not a frightening or menacing character, but mysterious and tempting (like modern depictions of vampires for example in YA novels).
In the end, the focus is on the changes that Melany is going through: "Something was wrong with me. That much knew. But I didn't know how to stop it. I was changing, morphing into someone else, something else" [p.155]. But was she truly becoming someone else or was she starting to accept her own true nature? The answer to this question is left open, yet it might be that Melany is both parts of the light and the darkness. The adolescent readers can sympathize with Melany's feelings and challenges, yet, like her, they will need to grow and accept their true nature, even if others may find them strange.
While spying on Aphrodite, Melany hears how Aphrodite and Ares refer to the humans. He complains to her, "Sorry I'm late. Some of those mortals are so weak and whiny. Sometimes, I wonder why I don't just slaughter the lot of them and be done with it." And she replies, "Because we need them for now. Like cattle, they're being raised for the impending slaughter" [p. 173]. While Ares was not a favourite god hence his attitude towards humans is hardly surprising (he was even hated by his own father (Iliad, 5.889-898), it is Aphrodite's approach that is more shocking. She is supposed to be the goddess of love. While she plays with human emotions in the myths (for example causing Medea to fall for Jason), she is not particularly bloodthirsty. Yet in our story, her beautiful exterior hides her evil and monstrous character. Her turning into a giant snake to choke Melany shows her real intention and the danger she poses for humankind. The snake was perhaps chosen since it expresses danger and venom, and also a shady character. It is also a reptile that does not fit the glamorous image of the goddess of beauty. In numerous recent YA novels, we see how the ancient deities are portrayed as cruel, uncaring and even murderous to humans (for example in the Mythverse series.