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Goodreads⎮Reviewed May 2017
Narrator: Tami Leah Lacy
Length: 7h 46m
Publisher: Callista Hunter⎮2017
Synopsis: Olivia is a sixteen-year-old Vestal Virgin, a happy devotee of her beloved goddess Vesta in her home nation of Parcae. But when her faith in Vesta is shaken, Olivia illegally experiments with her own divine power, making a discovery that could save her country from war – if she’s brave enough to share it.
After an accidental revelation proves Vesta is fake, Olivia and her fellow Virgins are tempted by a charismatic academy boy, Cassius, to invoke the real gods. Although they risk death if they are discovered, Olivia and her friends test their skills in secret experiments. But their games take an unexpected turn when flighty blonde Lucia reveals surprisingly deadly powers.
Gaius, a brilliant military student, must protect the girls and plan for war against an enemy nation while ignoring his growing attachment to Olivia. As a Vestal Virgin she has taken a holy vow of chastity, and the consequences of breaking it are severe.
4.25★ Audiobook⎮ Goddess was so much more than I was expecting. It was a delightful story set in Ancient Rome. Goddess was filled with political and religious intrigue, accompanied by an empowering message of feminine strength.
Calista Hunter’s stellar writing set the ancient scene beautifully, while still throwing in modern flair via the dialogue. Goddess‘s message is especially appropriate for teens 14+ and would serve as a great entry point into Ancient Roman mythology for young readers. The characters were engaging and distinct. I wasn’t drawn to one singular character, but the group of characters and the way they rounded each other out was most appealing.
The religious aspect of the story was heartbreaking. The main character, Olivia, experiences a “crisis of faith” after learning that the goddess she has devoted her life to serving was an invention of the patriarchy. Vesta, the goddess of home and hearth, was invented by men to keep women devoted to “womanly duties”. Many people have been in Olivia’s shoes, having had their fath shaken or shattered, which is why I think her story resonates so strongly.
Even if Vesta was fictionalized, the remaining gods were very real, which brought an element of fantasy to Goddess. It was easy to slip into the plot through the eyes of Callista Hunter’s well-defined characters. There was an excellent amount of action throughout Goddess, with acutely shocking plot twists peppered in along the way.
Hunter showed excellent skill by elongating the overarching plot to encompass several “mini-adventures” and then weaving everything back into the primary plot. Every time it fell like the story was tapering off nicely, Hunter found a way to revive it for another go. This type of storytelling makes me wish that Goddess was being extended into a series. Callista Hunter has something really neat here and I’m not sure I’m ready to see it end in a stand-alone novel.
Narration review: Tami Leah Lacy made this listening experience even more enjoyable. Her voice itself was extremely pleasant to hear. She appropriately varied her vocalizations to match each character’s personality and status, which added another dimension to the characters. A dimension which the physical book would not have been able to provide. There were minor quality issues throughout, which became more noticeable as the audiobook went on. The sound level frequently faded in and out, often mid-sentence. Tami Leah Lacy seems to be an extremely talented performer, but I would hire a sound engineer next time. ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Callista Hunter, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Callista!
$ Available at Audible/Amazon