Adult Fiction,  review

Book Review :: Psykhe by Kate Forsyth

A new release from Kate Forsyth is always cause for celebration and I was super excited to get into her latest new release, Psykhe. I’ve been building my knowledge of Greek myth through feminist retellings that centre the women who have historically been side characters in these stories and, since Kate is one of my favourite storytellers, this release felt like an extra special treat. I’ve popped my thoughts below the synopsis.

Synopsis of Psykhe by Kate Forsyth

It is not wise to anger the gods … or to fall in love with one.

Psykhe has always been different. Fair as Venus, the goddess of love, and with the hard-won ability to save the lives of those of mortal blood, she is both shunned and revered.

When she unwittingly provokes Venus, she and her sisters lose everything. Psykhe must find a way to make amends and support her family.

Befriended by an old woman, Nokturna, Psykhe finds herself irresistibly drawn to her young friend, Ambrose. But neither is what they seem.

For Psykhe has fallen in love with a man whose face she is forbidden to see. After disobeying this injunction, she must risk everything to try to save him, even if it means travelling down to the shadowy Underworld to face Proserpina, queen of the dead.

The way to the realm of the dead is easy. A thrust of a sword, a sudden fall, a careless bite of toadstool, and the soul is sucked away. It is the return journey that is difficult ….

My review of Psykhe

You might have guessed from the vibe of the intro to this post that I absolutely loved this book. Kate Forsyth’s writing never fails to enchant me and the gorgeous prose in this novel was no exception. I felt really pulled into the story right from the beginning. When I pick up a retelling like this sometimes I have at least a vague familiarity with the story, but in this case it was all new to me and honestly it was such a pleasure to ‘meet’ this myth through Kate’s voice.

More and more I’m finding that the books I love the most have witchy vibes and protagonists who are wise woman or village healers or just woman who don’t quite fit into society and live on the outskirts with a strong connection to nature and a growing knowledge of the power of the plants they grow. This novel fits perfectly into that wheelhouse and I loved seeing Psykhe’s skills and confidence bloom under Nokturna’s guidance in the first part of the story.

Something I am enjoying as I read more Greek myth retellings is seeing how the stories and their characters fit together and overlap to fill out their broader world. In the second part of this book Psykhe starts to come into contact with some of the gods and goddesses and I really appreciated the way we’re given hints of their stories, which I think provides additional context and depth to the world. For instance, Forsyth touches on the story of how Proserpina became the Goddess of the Underworld. I found these references especially fun as I had just finished reading Jennifer Saint’s Hera which also refers to the stories of Proserpina (Persephone) as well as others that pop up in Psykhe like the relationships between Venus (Aphrodite) and Mars (Ares) and Vulcan (Hephaestus).

I know that Greek myth overall can be a bit intimidating to begin with – there are so many stories and characters and who knows where to start. I think that the glimpses we’re given of other stories help to make Psykhe really accessible and an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to get into reading Greek myth for the first time, while still being a satisfying retelling for anyone with more background and a must-read for lovers of myth.

Please let me know in the comments if you’re planning to pick this up or have read it and want to chat. I’d also love to know if you have other favourite myth retellings I should check out!

xo Bron

Psykhe by Kate Forsyth
Out now from Penguin Books Australia
Source: Penguin kindly provided me with an early copy for review (thank you!)
Category: Retelling, Greek mythology

Psykhe on Goodreads
Find Kate Forsyth online here
Love a Greek Myth retelling? Check out more of my reviews here.

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