Love or life.Oh my god that summary. That summary is so fucking far from accurate I can’t even. WARNING: this is going to be long and angry and full of unmarked spoilers.
Henry or their child.
The end of her family or the end of the world.
Kate must choose.
During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her – until Cronus offers a deal.
In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead.
With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything.
Even if it costs her eternity.
Oh my god, I thought I was done being angry about this book. Seriously, like once I hit that last stretch and the ending clusterfuck began and it became abundantly clear that not one significant thing was going to change, I just pfft, stopped caring. Like,
I realized that all this time, I’d been waiting for this book to be more. I’d thought Carter had pulled us in for the long con. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Carter to jump out of the bushes and yell, “GOTCHA! Hahaha, really had you going there, didn’t I? You really thought that I was going to follow through with a fucked-up relationship and “bitches, man” for an entire trilogy! OH YE OF LITTLE FAITHE!” And I was angry because it was taking so GODDAMNED LONG and Kate was being such a GODDAMNED MORON and WHY WOULDN’T THE OTHER SHOE JUST DROP ALREADY?
And then I realized that there was no long con. There was no other shoe. No Carter in the bushes, waiting to Melissa-Marr us, no redeeming moral to the story. It just is. The Goddess trilogy really is a series about a woman who finds true love through abduction, imprisonment, emotional blackmail, and a path to marriage so contrived that “arranged” doesn’t even begin to do it service. It is a book about a girl who’s not even allowed to get out of her teen years before she’s manipulated into being wedded and pregnant. It is a book in which men motivate every woman’s action, in which their very special love for particular penises makes the world go round, and the inter-gender hate flow. It is a book in which the primary antagonist is written as a hateful, unlovable, irredeemable bitch. It is a book in which we are supposed to accept all of these things uncritically.
And I was just out of fucks, man, because how do you even argue with that? I’ve spent two reviews trying to argue with that, and what more can I say about how vile and awful and fucking infuriating and depressing this whole concept is?
I thought I didn’t care anymore, I thought I was just out of fucks, and then I went on Goodreads to collect my summary for this review, and all I see are four and five star reviews for this book, and I just…
This book is FUCKED UP, you guys. FUCKED UP. I mean, from page one, page fucking one, the story is just irreparably fucked. Kate is fucking PREGNANT. PREGNANT. I know that we knew that already, but it’s different, seeing the way it’s played out. You open the book, and this emotionally stunted, fucked-up eighteen-year-old girl is giving birth, and it’s just like, jesus fucking christ. This is a kid. This is a kid, giving birth, in a book intended for other kids, to a child she WAS FORCED TO BEAR. And you KNOW that this is not going to be about just how awful and emotionally scarring that REALLY is, or whether or not Kate is prepared for its repercussions, or even if she wanted this child in the first place. No, this is pregnancy as a plot device, the most inconsequential, fairytale motherfucking depiction of teen motherhood you will ever see, with a perfect baby, and a body magicked back to normal two minutes after giving birth, and nary a negative thought seen or heard about this motherhood thing, EVER.
But why would there be? Because what this really is is Kate, giving birth to her happy ending. This is Kate giving birth to her reward, that thing that no
And this is the second fucking chapter.
But oh god, if there’s anyone who tank any sympathy that I would have garnered for her after the awful things she’s been through, it’s Kate. Kate is…really kind of a bafflingly awful character. She is still, after three freaking books here, insecure on a level that I think is borderline insane, and I’m not even being facetious when I say that. Three books, and this girl is still, STILL, teetering on the edge of an emotional breakdown, should the people she bases her life around leave her. She’s still an utter fucking misogynist, and STILL has such a martyr complex that for a good 50% of the book, all she does is offer to sacrifice herself for other people. This girl is a train wreck of misplaced anger and spunky agency and romantic paranoia that makes her unlikable and almost unreadable, and the book does not one damn thing about it. And it’s not like it doesn’t know, the book is aware of at least some of this, because characters lampshade things like Kate’s willingness to sacrifice herself for other people. And yet it doesn’t change.
That is what I was waiting for – emotional development on Kate’s part. Isn’t that the whole point? Why else give her such massive, infuriating character flaws? But if a shift in perspective came, I missed it. I suspect that if Kate was to have developed at all, the catalyst was perhaps supposed to have been the ending, but if that’s the case, I hardly even know what to say. “Too little, too fucking late” comes to mind. I spent 90% of the book in the mind of Asshole Kate, what do I care if she somehow miraculously evolves too late to really change a goddamn thing, and right in time to ride off into the sunset?
Really, though, Goddess Inheritance is just shit with its female characters in general, which I suppose isn’t surprising; the series’ subtitle should have been Internalized Misogyny in Action. Aside from so-fucked-there’s-not-even-a-proper-word-for-it Kate, Ava/Aprodite and Calliope/Hera are the major female players, and as usual, their roles are an infuriating mess.
If we’re to go by the narrative, I would say that Avadite has probably the most thankless role. When we last saw her, Ava’s husband had been captured, and she was being blackmailed into betraying Kate to Calliope to presumably keep him from death or harm. Nine months later, and apparently Ava has been hanging around and tending to Kate while she is Calliope’s hostage, but somehow also reporting back to Walter (Zeus) and the Council (Olympians) as a spy?
I don’t really understand this, on a number of different levels. For one, you would think that if you had sided with the enemy to the point that you’re pretty much a permanent resident in their HQ, you wouldn’t just be able to pop back over to the “good guys'” base to chat and catch up without somebody noticing or trying to stop you. And yet, this is how Inheritance starts: Ava, at Olympus, chatting with her “daddy”, Zeus. In person. Updating him about what’s going on with Kate, and curling up in his lap for comfort and support.
Yeah, literally. This grown-ass, immortal, ancient goddess is curled up in her father’s fucking lap LIKE A CHILD, that’s not demeaning or infantalizing in the least, right? BUT I DIGRESS.
Afterwards, Ava is somehow able to pop back over to Cronus’ headquarters and resume tending to Kate, without anyone being the wiser, apparently. And I’m assuming she does this a lot, because she’s been keeping Zeus appraised of Kate’s condition for NINE MONTHS. Yet nobody noticed, nor did the other side take advantage of this apparent lapse in security. Excellent.
For two, was Ava’s being a spy supposed to be some sort of secret? To us or Kate? You wouldn’t think so, given how the book opens on Ava reporting to Zeus, and yet the public reveal that Ava has been acting on behalf of Zeus the entire time is treated as some sort of twist. That could perhaps be because it was surprising to Kate, but that doesn’t really make sense, either. By the time we get to the point where Ava is publicly revealed as a spy, Kate has seen Ava relay information over the Council at least once, has heard that it’s a regular thing, and has been on the receiving end of Ava’s help multiple times. Buuuut somehow she still hadn’t put it together?
Here’s why that’s so confusing, though: through the whole book, Kate treats Ava like absolute shit for helping Calliope. And okay, it’s not like Ava is blameless, here, and I’ll be the first to say that I hate that she was man-tivated into that position, but as far as Kate is concerned, Ava’s doing all these things because her husband is being held captive. His life is at stake, and while I don’t think it lets her off the hook entirely, I do think it’s deserving of a little empathy, right? Fuck, Kate even agrees that if their roles were reversed, she would have betrayed the shit out of Ava for Henry.
But apparently none of this matters, because Kate just mercilessly flings hatred in Ava’s direction for the entire goddamned book.
Seriously, the level of nastiness levied towards Ava by Kate is just astounding, so much so that even other characters notice, and speculate on whether or not her resentment is being magically bolstered by Calliope. Kate comes to the conclusion that it’s not, though; she just really hates Ava for a great laundry list of things resulting from her betrayal, and no amount of Ava apologizing or taking care of her child or helping her escape will ease that resentment. No, Ava literally has to sacrifice herself for Kate before she is able to consider forgiving her.
Well, that’s not exactly true – and this is where that did-she-or-didn’t-she know about Ava being a spy comes into play. It’s actually when Zeus reveals that Ava was working on his behalf the entire time that Kate first begins to start to forgive her.
I genuinely do not understand this. How does that make Ava’s actions any better? How is allowing Kate to suffer for strategic value somehow better than acting under duress because someone else’s life is at stake? Not to say there isn’t an argument to be made for the former, but from Kate’s perspective? SERIOUSLY? How is THAT somehow more acceptable? “Oh, well, gosh, I guess if she was doing it pragmatically for her dad instead of emotionally for herself, well, that just makes it all okay.”
No fucking sense.
But that’s Ava’s arc! Blackmailed for her husband, used by her father, ultimately killed in the climax to atone for her “sins” and possibly teach Kate a lesson about her misogyny, depending on how much credit we’re actually giving the book. Kate does take it very personally, because HOW DARE YOU KILL SWEET WONDERFUL AMAZING APHRODITE?
Careful, Kate, change positions any faster and we’re all going to have to be treated for whiplash.
Then there’s Hera. Oh my fucking God, Hera. Or, sorry, Calliope, and yeah, the god-name thing is still stupid and confusing. Anyway, Hera. Fucking Maleficent had more nuance. The Evil Queen from Snow White looks at Hera and goes “Goddamn lady, you need to chill. And perhaps consider taking up a hobby.” If there’s a character that’s more of a traffic jam of awful sexist stereotypes and tropes, I haven’t seen them. Once again, a lot of this comes back to Kate, because it is with Kate’s eyes that we view these women, and Kate frequently, loudly, lets us know what she thinks of Hera. Ahhh, let’s see here:
“Callum after herself, undoubtedly. He was Milo, not Callum, and no matter how long he stayed with that bitch, he would never be hers.”
“He’ll [Kate’s son] never know me. He’ll never know his father. He’ll grow up calling the bitch who kidnapped me his mother, the egomaniac who’s killed millions of people his father, and he’ll never know that I’m out here loving him more in a moment than they could in eternity.”
“His name isn’t Callum, and I’m his mother, you bitch,” I snarled.
Pulling away from Henry, Calliope eyes me with distaste. I glared right back. That bitch.
Or maybe she’d done it just so he could feel that heartbreak when he kissed her and remembered who he was really supposed to love. Sadistic bitch.And my personal favorite:
“It isn’t about winning.” I took a step toward her. “Even if you never let Henry go, somewhere inside of him, he’s always going to love me – because he wants to, because we’re good together. Not because Ava forced him into it. And no matter how alone I am, I’ll always have the comfort of knowing that at least someone in the world loves me because they want to. But you – you’re nothing but a heinous, lonely, unloved bitch, and that’s all you’re ever going to be.”Lest we think that this is just a Kate thing, though, there’s this excellent quote from Ava:
“No wonder Daddy never loved you. There’s nothing lovable about you. All this time I thought he was in the wrong, treating you the way he did, but you deserved it. You pervert love and family until they’re unrecognizable, all for your own twisted sense of satisfaction. No one, not even Cronus, deserves to burn in Tartarus more than you do.”“Burn in Tartarus”, Jesus, is that even a thing? Anyway, yeah, Calliope is basically a cartoon witch/Bond villain now, doing shit for the evulz. We’re not supposed to feel a modicum of sympathy for her; she’s no longer even humanized by the awful “woman-scorned” schtick, she’s just this evil, irredeemable, heinous bitch, deserving of everything that’s coming to her because she’s unlovable and awful and always has been. Hera spends the book stealing babies and torturing her own son, cackling as she helps her “daddy” destroy the world, all because some dude didn’t love her.
The most damning thing, though, is that between Hera and Ava, there is a marked difference in the way the women’s villainy and misdeeds are treated, as opposed to our primary male antagonist, Cronus, and other men in the wrong, like Walter.
Cronus, keep in mind, is the power behind this cabal of destruction. He is the “real threat”. The Council could vanquish Hera in a manner of seconds – as seen in The Goddess Test – but Cronus, supposedly, would take the combined strength of all of the gods to send back to Tartarus. Not just any god, either, by the way, but Christian-moral-abiding Greek gods, thank you very much. It’s stated in the book that literally every single non-Greek god could come to their aid and they STILL would not be able to compensate for the loss of two members of the Council. Not that it would matter, anyway, because these cowardly non-Greek gods all signed a petition, I shit you not, agreeing not to fight Cronus’ reign. Every other god in the world. I don’t even know what to call that kind of fuckery.
But ANYWAY, the point is that Cronus is the one doing the damage, here. Hera may have let him out – or maybe it was Kate? I don’t even fucking remember anymore – but she wields no real power over him, and he is following is own agenda. Cronus is the only one affecting actual, real-world repercussions in this fight, sending out giant tidal waves to wipe out all of Athens, and the Egyptian coast all the way down to Alexandria. Cronus is the one responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
So let’s put this into perspective, okay:
|God’s Misdeeds||God’s Fates|
|APRODITE||Betrayed Kate to Hera, pretended to make Henry fall in love with Hera.||DIES|
|HERA||Killed all of the candidates for goddess, released Cronus, kidnapped Kate, held her child hostage, rapes Henry (implied), kills Ava||DIES|
|CRONUS||Wipes out NUMEROUS CITIES and KILLS MILLIONS OF FUCKING PEOPLE. Oh yeah, and HOLDS KATE CAPTIVE for NINE MONTHS.||Put back in Tartarus where Kate swears to visit him regularly so that he won’t be lonely, because is it really his fault that he was cooped up for years and just wanted to stretch his legs?|
Yeah, somehow, for some ~mystical~ reason, Cronus’ judgement, from both Kate and the narrative, is significantly less severe. Despite causing far more widespread harm and posing far more of a threat, Cronus never gets the bile from Kate that Ava and Calliope do. Not to say that she doesn’t hate him, because by the end of the book she does, but with Cronus, Kate shows a capacity for mercy, guilt, and empathy that she denies Calliope, and even Ava (while she is alive).
Seriously, we get scenes where Kate is spitting fucking mad that Ava and Calliope are even touching her precious spawn, but when they pass him off to Cronus? Oh well, I guess that’s okay, at least THOSE BITCHES aren’t touching him, right? It’s just the guy who imprisoned her on a whim, and regularly attempts to emotionally blackmail her into giving up her freedom for the sake of her family.
Then again, THAT IS HOW SHE MET HER HUSBAND.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, the book remains as vomit-inducingly male-centric as ever. Kate, Ava, and Calliope are all still motivated by men – Henry, Cronus, Nicholas (Ava’s husband), Zeus, even Kate’s child turns out to be a boy, because boys are just the light in the fucking world, don’t you know? I admit, I was just a smidge infuriated that Kate couldn’t even be allowed to fight for the sake of a daughter. Nope, she got the privilege of creating her own little penis to defend, so now she and Calliope get to fight over a tiny version of Henry, isn’t that just so–
As if that weren’t enough, we get even more manangst in this installment in the form of – what else? – Daddy Issues. Fuck, why not? We’ve already got husband and son, why not go for the whole trifecta?
Yes, Goddess Inheritance answers the age-old question I’m sure nobody actually gave a shit about: Who Is Kate’s Father? SURPRISE, turns out it’s Zeus!
So now both Kate and Ava have father issues with this man, and oh god, does this just rip a giant gaping wound in the premise so far. After all, this WHOLE SERIES was based on the task of making Kate immortal. So why, then, if Kate is the child of two fucking gods, wasn’t she born immortal in the first place? And if both her parents were gods, why didn’t they just raise her in Olympus?
But don’t worry! Demeter to the rescue, with one long, awkward conversation to retcon some logic into this revelation! Sort of. Not really. At all.
Forgive the indulgence, but I’m going to quote this shit in full, because it’s just too ridiculous for words.
“I raised you outside of Olympus because I wanted to give you the best possible shot at passing the tests as I could.”NOPE, STOP.
PFFFT HAHAHA WHAT? We all remember what the fucking tests were, right? Studying, not eating, not fucking, sharing clothes, etc., and even ignoring the absolute stupidity of the tests themselves, how is being raised outside Olympus relevant to any of that at all? In fact, you would think that she would get MORE experience in learning and understanding how to perform the ACTUAL duties of a god living among gods, and growing up with the knowledge that she might one day become one of them. It’s calling ACTUAL FUCKING PREPARATION.
But no, Demeter, do go on:
“But if Walter’s immortal, and you’re immortal, then why wasn’t I?” I said. It seemed like such a small, unimportant question in the scheme of things, but I needed small and unimportant right now.Such a small, unimportant plot hole~ It doesn’t really matter, we’re just answering for kicks, DON’T THINK ABOUT IT TOO HARD OKAY?
“Because I had you in my mortal form. […] That was part of my bargain with the council. Demigods – and you have always been a demigod, darling – are not immortal, but they can earn immortality, as can mortals.”UM UM BECAUSE MY BODY WAS MORTAL. Yeah, that’s it. For some reason it was a MUCH BETTER IDEA for you to be born mortal. BECAUSE REASONS, OKAY?
“Why have Henry marry a mortal to begin with?” I said. “Why not – I don’t know. Why not just have me and marry me of to him?”“I learned my lesson with Persephone.” Really? REALLY? How so, exactly? That is a straight-up fucking lie, Kate was BLACKMAILED INTO TESTING FOR GODDESS, Henry bargained with her mother’s LIFE, and Demeter fucking RAISED HER SPECIFICALLY WITH THIS IN MIND. How THE FUCK is that NOT an arranged marriage? How THE FUCK is this not just a bunch of circuitous bullshit to spackle over a plothole so large fucking TEXAS could cruise on through it?
She laughed softly. “And how well would that have gone over, do you think? I learned my lesson with Persephone. Henry wanted a willing queen, one who understood the price of death, and he insisted on mortal candidates. The council did consider having you born immortal, of course, since the others died very mortal deaths, but Calliope was the one to insist that you not be born a goddess.”
And lol OH YEAH, well, we wanted you to be mortal, even though I knew that it would PUT YOUR LIFE IN DANGER. But, well, HENRY WANTED A MORTAL GIRL, YOU SEE? AND CALLIOPE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA. TOTALLY NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL, RIGHT?
“I thought it was because she wanted the same things as Henry – that she did not want to push another girl towards a marriage and a role they did not want, only to once again end in disaster.”But then it turned out she was killing them. LOL WHO KNEW?
“Did Walter know you were going to get sick?”What the fresh fuck? How would getting cancer change the plan AT ALL? Why would they not just move up the plan and tell Kate on, say, her EIGHTEENTH birthday, let her live her life ’til then, and give her a MOTHERFUCKING CHOICE? But no, instead they DANGLE HER MOTHER’S LIFE IN FRONT OF HER, LIE TO HER, AND GET HER KILLED. That is SO FAR from “the plan” Demeter outlines here that I honestly cannot believe that Kate didn’t call her a goddamn liar to her face. But no. Kate actually reflects on how her mother’s cancer helped her agree to pass the tests, and how perhaps the whole cancer thing was concocted by the Olympians to help prepare her. And I fucking sit there gaping like a fish, pointing and screaming in my head:
“What? No honey, no. I was never supposed to get sick. You were supposed to be older. You were supposed to have the chance to live, to choose a life for yourself. It was never supposed to be deception. I planned on telling you on your twentieth birthday, and at that point you would’ve taken the tests if you wanted to. When I found out that I had cancer, I went to the council, and they decided to speed up the schedule. I held on so long because Theo helped me. None of that was planned, I swear to you.”
HEY, YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD HAVE FUCKING PREPARED HER FOR BEING A GODDESS? RAISING HER AS A GODDESS. NOT LYING TO HER AND LETTING HER LIVE A LIE AND WATCH HER MOTHER SLOWLY DIE FOR YEARS, ALL BY HERSELF.
This explanation is just so fucking flimsy. It’s sad, weak backpeddling. Hey, you know what? Not a goddamn thing you can fucking say will change how or why Kate got into this goddess position. It will always, ALWAYS, be fucked up and wrong and unhealthy and unfair to Kate, and Demeter will ALWAYS be the fucking bad guy in this situation. Maybe try OWNING UP TO THAT instead of trying to explain it away.
But that just brings us back to the original conclusion: this book just is. It is everything fucked and unhealthy and wrong with the first two. There is no redemption for it, not even any attempt. It’s just fucked.
Putting the fucking shenanigans aside, Goddess Inheritance also manages to fail in general terms of compelling storytelling. It felt so much longer than it actually ways, probably because it takes so fucking long for anything relevant to happen – aside from a brief skirmish in the beginning and the clusterfuck battle ending, most of the book is just padded all to hell. It is literally pages of Kate doing mundane shit like watching her kid sleep for hours, and angsting over her husband, or father, or Cronus, or being angry at Ava and Calliope.
The only thing that Kate actually gets to do for a good two hundred pages is go out and search for Rhea – you know, that thing this whole book was set up to be about until LOL SURPRISE PREGNANCY – and that is an absurdly brief trip. Seriously, they went on and on in the last book and even this one about how ~nobody knew where Rhea was~ and Kate would have to ~trek through Africa~ to find her. I mean, fuck, Kate disappeared for nine months and nobody thought it was weird because she was supposedly ~looking for Rhea~ and I guess it should just take that long. And yet when Kate finally does go after her, it’s basically:
James: Rhea’s in Africa. Here, we shall take a plane there!
– Trans-Atlantic flight –
James: Oh, we’re in White Person’s Vision of Slumtastic Africa!
– ONE fucking cab drive later –
Kate: Oh hey, there’s Rhea!
That took like TWO DAYS, none of which, by the way, was actually spent LOOKING for Rhea, just traveling to a specific location. James led Kate RIGHT TO HER. WHY in FUCK did ANYONE – particularly James – think nothing was off about Kate being gone for NINE MONTHS? This was so bizarre that I actually thought it might be a plot point, like maybe James was in on it and didn’t say anything because he was ~the mole~, but nope, we’re never given any explanation. It just ~is~.
But aside from that little expedition, which takes all of maybe a chapter, we get little to nothing actually happening in The Goddess Inheritance until the very end. The book just stalls and procrastinates, letting Kate whine and waver back and forth constantly about whether or not she should keep her bargain with Cronus and be his ~immortal bride~ or whatever-the-fuck. Finally, after like a MILLION fucking pages, she settles on “YES!”, and sets out to sacrifice herself for her family…and fails spectacularly. Instead, Henry gets to be the lucky dog to bargain himself away, and OH FUCK, NOW SHIT’S GETTING REAL, HENRY IS IN DANGER!
That’s like a hundred pages or so from the end, and finally, FINALLY, the plot is allowed to chug forward as we build up to the epic clusterfuck ending. The Olympians fumble down the path to war, and despite the best efforts of her family to sideline her, Kate actually womans up and finds a way to contribute something. I’m not entirely sure why nobody but Kate thought of doing what she did, but fuck, I’ll take it, at least she’s doing something.
They fight and blah blah blah, nobody cares, and a bunch of people get stabbed, Ava and Calliope fatally so, and deus ex Rhea shows up, despite explicitly stating that she wasn’t going to get involved and nothing actually changing. Sure, she could have saved millions of human lives, but pfft, if she’d done that, we wouldn’t have gotten this fine story!
Like an angry mother who’s finally had enough of her rambunctious toddlers, she puts a stop to this fighting shit, and somehow done-been-stabbed Henry is healed, but not Ava,
And then they all just go home, and Kate gets her happily-ever-after with her motherfucking Stockholm husband and child-trafficking mother and douchebag father who let her stay kidnapped for nine months, and her fucking forced pregnancy baby, and isn’t it just so sweet? And Kate never has to get over her dependency or insecurity or misogyny, and Henry never has to muster any of his own will to live, and these people get to raise a fucking child together, holy shit, that poor fucking kid.
And for our send-off, we’re shown that fuck, now we’ve got two goddess vacancies to fill. GUESS WHO GETS TO FIND SOMEONE TO REPLACE AVA? NOW WE GET TO DO THIS SAME THING TO SOME OTHER LUCKY GIRL, right?
It’s like the final twist in a fucking horror movie.
This book is just…ugh. It’s exactly what the fucking last two were. I don’t know why I expected more.