Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
You know, it’s been a reeeaaaal long time since I read a Greek Mythology novel. Long time as in not-since-the-whole-Percy-Jackson-fad (Rick Riordan fan in da house!). Which makes sense because, you know, Sweet Venom has been on my shelf ever since then. Oops.
Okay but seriously guys, this book was really good!
Sweet Venom follows long-lost triplets Grace, Gretchen, and Greer, descendants of Medusa and her powerful Gorgon sisters. Turns out, not-yet snake-haired Medusa was getting a little too friendly with Posiedon for Athena’s taste so bibidi bobidi boo-hoo for you, Athena cursed Medusa, turned the gods against her, et voilà! Medusa’s a villain and her descendants are all forced to carry on the gorgon duty as guardians by saving the human population from mythical monsters plaguing the city of San Francisco.
One of the best things about this is the different personalities of the triplets. As can be expected from the book blurb, Sweet Venom shifts POV by chapter back and forth between the three girls, beginning with only Grace and Gretchen and later adding Greer to the mix. I cannot stress how absolutely essential it is that POV-shifting books have distinct enough characters that deciphering who’s talking is so clear the chapter heading is almost unnecessary (Cassie Clare’s The Dark Artifices series is a good example of this). Childs does this spectacularly, giving each girl an entirely unique voice–three different ways to experience a single story.
The first sister we meet is Grace. Sweet, smart, but insecure, Grace is your typical high schooler yearning for more. More confidence so she can stand up to the mean girl. More courage to jump into the monster world. More fun, more charm, more adventure. She’s swept up in the world of myth through a chance encounter with a couple monsters at a club. The great thing about Grace is that while she knows full well that she has a lot to learn and that the job comes with great risk, she’s fiercely determined, a lot braver than she gives herself credit for, and takes everything in stride. She is also the one who keeps everyone together and everything moving at all times. Of the three, Grace is the one I found easiest to connect with because she feels so familiar.
Gretchen is sister number two and the only one who grew up with the knowledge of her true heritage, having spent years fighting monsters solo. The best description for Gretchen is that she’s a fighter. I don’t just mean that in the I-sent-monsters-back-to-their-fiery-pit-of-hell, I mean that she’s put through a lot and comes out swinging. Her interaction with Grace is ridiculously entertaining because the two are such a surprising pairing. Where grace is goofy Gretchen is serious, where she’s perky Gretchen is somber and unimpressed It’s not that she’s boring–she’s quite the opposite!–but she’s got an attitude that won’t quit. Bring on the spunk!
Y número tres is dear sweet rich girl Greer. She is by far the most reluctant to join the monster-fighting trio–her precious social calendar is so important. But even her high society life compliments the other two, reminding the rest of the gang there’s more to life than being Medusa’s descendants. Greer comes in closer to the end so there isn’t a ton of time to really get to know her but there’s enough for you to look forward to getting more!
A word to the romance lovers: Childs does a good job of incorporating it without rushing anything or letting it overshadow the plot. It’s more of a complimentary factor for each of the girls and a way of bringing out their respective personalities.
PS. Nick’s my favourite; just sayin’.
Sweet Venom is very much centred on its characters but the plot is not by any means lacking. It takes a little while for everything to fully come into play (it’s not slow, though, because Gretchen carries the myth stuff from the very start) but the book is spectacular at being a beginning. It thoroughly introduces the sisters, explains the myth, and enacts the story in such a way that despite it being mostly setup of a series it’s still a well-written and fully-explored story in and of itself.
This book reminded me of how much I miss these kinds of stories. Plus given my love of Rick Riordan and Sweet Venom‘s status as an older, more girl-power Percy Jackson it’s hard not to like it. All in all, if you like Greek myths, I would definitely recommend!
Click here for the book synopsis on goodreads!