Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Review – “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips

The twelve Greek gods of Olympus are alive and well in the twenty-first century, but they are crammed together in a London town house — and none too happy about it. For Artemis (goddess of hunting, professional dog walker), Aphrodite (goddess of beauty, telephone sex operator), and Apollo (god of the sun, TV psychic), there's no way out — until a meek housecleaner, Alice, and her would-be boyfriend, Neil, turn their world upside down.

When what begins as a minor squabble between Aphrodite and Apollo escalates into an epic battle of wills, Alice and Neil must fear not only for their own lives but for the survival of humankind. Nothing less than a true act of heroism is needed — but can these two ordinary people replicate the feats of the mythical heroes and save the world?
This debut contemporary novel from writer Marie Phillips is a fun laugh-out-loud fantasy. It is on one hand, an absurd comedy and on the other, a gentle love story. Phillips has imbued her Greek Gods with human personas; as it turns out being a God doesn’t automatically impart omniscience and wisdom.

These Greek Gods are a squabbling extended family living in a dilapidated London townhouse. Apparently the domestic skills of Gods are severely limited as their living conditions are abysmal. Their individual personalities are exaggerated portrayals of their unique gifts, hence Aphrodite, Goddess of love is reduced to a nymphomaniac phone sex worker, Apollo’s gift of prophecy has him acting as a TV psychic and Ares, God of War spends his time plotting third world conflicts. They are a disenchanted lot, and frequently depressed mostly because they still have their powers and responsibilities, but to the world at large they have faded to the realm of myth.

They are also shallow and petty. Aphrodite concocts a scheme to bedevil Apollo, and has Eros shoot an arrow to make him fall in love with a mortal who would also be shot with an arrow, only to make the mortal hate Apollo. Fun and torment to ensue. Only Eros can’t go through with the hate part and the mortal, Alice a cleaner at the TV studio is left untouched, thwarting Aphrodite’s plans. Alice is manipulated, eventually ending up as a housekeeper to the Gods, but unaware of their true nature.

Alice is a quiet demure young woman taking the first nervous steps towards forming a relationship with her friend Neil. Neil feels the same about Alice. They are the quintessential inexperienced virginal types. Apollo’s bewitchment with Alice turns to rage and when Alice rebuffs his advances. Apollo manipulates Zeus into killing Alice with a lightning bolt. Off to the Underworld she goes. Neil is devastated. The Gods are also devastated too – they’ve lost their housekeeper. Eros guilts Apollo into apologizing to Neil which leads Apollo to revealing himself as a God but only after proving it by turning out the sun (he is the God of the Sun after all) and then promptly falls unconscious. The end of the world is nigh.

With the help of Artemis, Neil embarks on a heroic journey to the Underworld to bargain with Hades for the return of Alice (after all there is a precedent). The depiction of the Underworld is almost Pythonesque. Alice’s skill at Scrabble comes in handy – who’d of guessed? Does Neil rescue and get the girl? Is the world saved? Will the Gods ever have a clean house again?

Pick up a copy of Gods Behaving Badly for some witty dialogue, silly situations and a pleasant story of true love. While the situations seem serious the story remains playful and entertaining. For something lighter and a little different you can’t go wrong.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Marie Phillips Website

Visit Blog Talk Radio.to listen to Marie Phillips discussing Gods Behaving Badly.

Little, Brown & Company
Published: December 2008
ISBN: 9780316067638
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 320


  1. I just read your review, I can't wait to read the book. I'm currently reading Underground and finished reading Any Given Doomsday; both books are pretty dark. So I'm looking forward to a light read with laughs.

    I recently read an excerpt for the book, "Unclean Spirits by M.L.N. Hanover". All I can say that I'm completely hooked! lol

  2. Hope it gets there soon for you. I came across the Hanover book as well and it does sound good. M.L.N. Hanover is actually a pen name for fantasy writer Daniel Abraham.


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