Reviews /

Her Dark Wings

Authored by Melinda Salisbury
Published by David Fickling

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This reworking of the myth of Persephone and Hades braids a series of threads, each of which will tug at the life experiences of many young adults: love and loss; loyalty and betrayal; forgiveness and vengeance; body image and consent, and of course (given the nature of the myth) life and death. Salisbury’s writing is rich with mythical references, as well as being peppered with adult language, as she leads the reader from a world which is simultaneously modern in both its social attitudes and use of technology, and at the same time ancient in its cultural adherence to the rituals and devotion to pantheon of ancient Greece. This means that the heroine Casey can go from calling her friends on her mobile phone to meeting a masked Hades at the Thesmophoria (a three-day festival celebrated by the female cult of Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and her daughter Persephone the goddess of spring growth). Terms specific to the culture of ancient Greece, such as ‘Thesmophoria’, occur throughout the story, but Salisbury provides enough context to ensure that the reader can continue to understand the narrative without resorting to Google (or equivalent).

At the opening of ‘his Dark Wings’ we are introduced to Corey, a seventeen-year-old who lives in a modern world, but a world which remains connected to the ancient Hellenic world. She is betrayed by her boyfriend and her best friend, Bree, and dancing on the rebound in the arms of another man at the ‘Thesmophoria’ she wishes to herself that Bree would die – a moment whose echo sounds throughout the book. And Bree dies. In the confusion of emotions that follows the death of her former best friend, Corey realises that not only can she see the land of the dead beyond the island, but she can also see Hades, the god of the dead. We travel with Corey across the water that divides the living from the dead, and she finds herself claimed by the three Furies, the embodiments of vengeance, jealousy and anger. Over five months Corey stays in the land of the dead, learning her true nature, and it is only that realisation that allows her to find her place in this recasting of a mythic world, and let go of the guilt that surrounds the death of her once best friend.