Thursday, February 10, 2022

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe
Release Date - November 2, 2021
Publisher Website - Penguin Random House Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating - 5/5

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Experience the propulsive love story of two Greek gods—Hades and Persephone—brought to life with lavish artwork and an irresistible contemporary voice.

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of mythology’s most well-known stories from creator Rachel Smythe. Featuring a brand-new, exclusive short story, Smythe’s original Eisner-nominated web-comic Lore Olympus brings the Greek Pantheon into the modern age with this sharply perceptive and romantic graphic novel.

This volume collects episodes 1-25 of the #1 WEBTOON comic, Lore Olympus.
The Hades and Persephone myth is one that is ripe for adaptation. Lore Olympus gives it a modern twist and creates something that feels fresh and exciting. 

This graphic novel, for me, showcased what this medium can do when it is at its best. It is filled with nuanced characters, fleshed out story arcs, and compelling art. It offers a story that is allowed to breathe and ultimately gives you a story (and characters) you can care about.

The art is interesting and eye catching. I found myself often taking another look at the art and lingering on certain images. I also love the colour scheme used as it compliments its story.  There is something cold about even the warmest tones being used that work really well within the story being told.

All of this large cast of characters are interesting and this volume left me wanting to know more about them (except Apollo, he can go die). Persephone is a character that I hope grows and changes in subsequent volumes. She is sheltered in so many ways and I want to see her spread her metaphorical wings. She feels like a ray of sunshine but she also has this darkness to her at times. She reads as fragile but I suspect she is stronger than she seems. Hades is not like anything I expected. He appears very kind, reserved and very polite. He has a sadness to him that Persphone's more light nature compliments.

The romance is filed with mutual pining and the all too familiar communication issues. It makes this epic story of gods and goddesses feel more grounded and realistic. It works because the reader recognizes the tropes being used and they are being used effectively.

The way that rape, and trauma are dealt with in this volume are noteworthy. The depiction of the rape scene is restrained but so visceral. I felt every beat of it because of where the focus was put and how it was presented. It was jarring and left me feeling uncomfortable in the way only a powerful scene can. It does all of this in an understated way that makes that plot element resonate fully. This means that it could be upsetting and triggering to some readers and they should be aware and prepared. I absolutely think this will be explored in other volumes and it could expand on what it is already saying about these topics.

This is a version of this myth that I will not only continue when the next installment is released but one I will return to again and again. It is one I would highly recommend to those just dipping their toes into graphic novels as it offers a compulsively readable experience in a very pretty package.

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