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Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

What if Hades, Lord of the Dead, wasn’t so scary after all? What if Persephone had a back story?

Enter the magical and sensual world of Lore Olympus, where the gods of Mount Olympus lead wild lives full of scandal and tangled relationships, in contemporary settings.

Nineteen-year-old Persephone, Goddess of Spring, has spent her whole life in the mortal realm, but she’s finally gotten a scholarship to study at Olympus. There’s one catch – it’s funded by TGOEM (The Goddesses of Eternal Maidenhood), an organisation her overbearing and protective mother, Demeter, is eager to have her join. But for now, she’s planning to enjoy her newfound freedom, staying with her new friend and fellow TGOEM member, Artemis, enjoying her studies and making friends with her classmates – even getting a phone!

However, life for a young girl is full of dangers, as Persephone is to learn. Not everyone means you well, and not all men (especially arrogant gods) know how to take no for an answer. However, Hades is kind to her. Maybe they could be friends, or more?

Rachel Smythe’s imaginative retelling of the Persephone myth, interwoven with the stories of other gods, is gripping and un-put-down-able. Lore Olympus: Volume One is a graphic novel, containing the first twenty five ‘episodes’ of the popular Webtoon graphic series, available online and on the app. Smythe’s clever use of myth, as well as its evocative artworks, are at the centre of its charm. This is fantasy at its best, but very relatable, in particular for young women, who will recognise many of the experiences and character sketches in its pages.

The series as a whole deals with themes of mental health, sexual trauma, and abusive relationships. There are adult themes, making it suitable for older teenagers and above. As well as tackling serious topics, the volume’s characters are witty and often laugh-out-loud funny. A background knowledge of Greek myths is not essential, but will definitely enhance the experience.

There are more episodes online (yes, I was hooked and read the whole series available to date) but this first volume is a great taster, embedding a web phenomenon in a real book you can hold onto.

Highly recommended!

Reviewer: Susannah Whaley

Published by Penguin


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