Back in ancient days, tales of wonder and awe were crafted of mythological gods who ruled the universe, powering our sun, moon, stars, and elements. These beings, holding power far beyond what our minds could imagine, were revered and worshipped, our lives revolving around the pleasure and satisfaction of our chosen deity.
This remains true in the world of Arcadia, a haven established after the Earth and humanity’s downfall, in which the all-mighty gods live amongst and walk the same grounds as the mortals who worship them. While nearly the entire expanse of Arcadia is the setting in Andrea Stehle’s Daughter of Athena, the first novel in the “Gods of Arcadia” series focuses on the mission of Ardella, the daughter of the book’s name, whose determination to free her brother from the grips of the Son of Ares finds her exploring her purpose in the world, her loyalties to the gods, and her past.
The character of Ardella serves as more than just a central figure in this story of drama and romance: her ability to feel and detect other people’s emotions also makes her vital in getting closer to the other characters, especially Son of Ares Alexander and her brother Rafe. Told from Ardella’s perspective, Stehle makes sure Ardella enlightens the reader of every emotion she feels, every sense that ignites, and every truth she suspects is a lie.
Stehle’s writing hits every sense in several ways — you can easily picture the idyllic architecture of exile capital Metropolis (not Superman’s), tasting the clean, cool waters in your mouth, and feeling the gritty dirt beneath your feet or the gowns’ soft fabrics against your skin. Stehle intends to wrap the reader in the world of Arcadia, even amidst Ardella’s struggles with freeing her brother while balancing unforeseen romance and diminishing loyalty to Athena. Arcadia’s past parallels the development of Ardella’s story in her translation of the Book of Artemis, providing some foreshadowing and potential consequences to the decisions she must make. And while the overall book leaves a few loose threads and unanswered questions, it settles itself into an unexpected, but satisfying conclusion.
While those seeking intense action will be left wanting, those looking for a thought-provoking drama anxious to explore both the idea of freedom and the desires of the heart can find fulfillment in Daughter of Athena.