Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

Book:  The Dark Wife
Author:  Sarah Diemer
Publisher:  Self-Published

There’s no other way to say this than to be perfectly blunt:  Zeus is a super-size male member, Demeter is a textbook enabler, Hades could use some lessons in more effective personal communications, Pallas is a netherworld stalker, Charon is stuck in a job that he hates, and Persephone has underlying anger management issues.

In other words, the Gods and Goddesses aren’t crazy; they’re just like our own messed up extended families . . .

In Sarah Diemer’s self-published, YA novel, The Dark Wife, we follow the dawning of Persephone, first into teen angst, then first love, disillusionment, bitter hatred, self-imposed emotional exile, awareness, awakening, adult love, and finally into an unavoidable yet mature compromise between those that love and hurt her so much. 

While the book generally follows the outline of the classic Greek myth, it is a very different story altogether.  Persephone is a teenage lesbian, Hades is a woman of quiet power, and Cerberus is an adorable, three-headed, floppy-eared, big-pawed puppy.  Zeus is an absent father until he wants something from his daughter; and Demeter is a loving mother, but one that doesn’t want to rock the boat called Mount Olympus

The only thing missing is the tough and chewy Gorgon with a gun.

Sarah Diemer writes some truly beautiful and lyrical prose, and at moments seemed to show flashes of a much older soul.  She captured the confusion, loneliness, and torment of a teen in a seriously dysfunctional family that is saddled with high parental expectations; as well as Persephone’s struggle to understand who she really is and what she really wants in and from her life.  At times, Persephone seems almost like a petulant child throwing a tantrum, and at others she is remarkably mature and perceptive.  She shows outward distain toward one parent, and skirts the fringe of passive aggressive behavior with the other.

How very much like a typical teenager . . .

I have to admit, though, the relationship between Persephone and Hades is a bit of a mystery to me.  While I understand that there is a mutual fascination from the moment they first meet, I can’t say I really picked up on the heat between the two of them.  Persephone melts every time Hades speaks to her, but Hades is a woman of few words.  In fact, it appears for a bit that Pallas might be the one making the move on Persephone instead of Hades.  But, of course, Hades is mysterious, has the cute puppy, the cool horses, and those smoldering good looks. 

Ah, but the whole sexy Lord of the Underworld vibe is the cherry on top . . .

The Dark Wife is a fairly short book, roughly 100 pages.  It starts off a bit slow, has a few too many gratuitous ‘cavorting with Nymph’ scenes, and could use a little more emotional and physical foreplay between Persephone and Hades to firm up their deep and abiding love.  However, it recovers nicely and packs a bit of a punch towards the end.  I’ll even admit that it gets a little hot and steamy.   

Pun intended . . .

But, of course, this is a book intended for the Young Adult audience, and it is meant to reflect a very different flavor of thoughts, fears, issues, conflicts, hopes, emotions, and feelings.  In that, it succeeded, because there are some truly wonderful moments in this book.  And, while the storyline and the writing style of The Dark Wife won’t capture all young adult readers, it will speak strongly and clearly to others. 

Those are the ones this book was written for, and that’s why books like this are worth their weight in gold.

As an author, Ms. Diemer has chosen a path that suits her by self-publishing, and offering the book free to the audience that it was written for.  Of course, it’s also available at Amazon, Barns and Noble, and Smashwords for $2.99, or you can donate whatever you believe the book is worth to you via her website: http://oceanid.org

Make no mistake, Sarah Diemer is not quite like any other author in the Lesbian Collective, and that’s most definitely not a bad thing.  In fact, it’s something special.  She lives the message she’s been given: be true to yourself, don’t be afraid to love, things will get better.  Her next book, a YA paranormal yarn called Ragged:  A Post-Apocalyptic Fairy Tale, is scheduled for release later this summer. 

I’m giving The Dark Wife a 4.5 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.  It’s not easy taking a Homeric Hymn, adding in a dose of teenage angst, a little good, old-fashion lesbian lust, and a grumpy Ferryman who would rather be an Accountant, and still have it be palatable.


  1. Sounds like a great book!

  2. Lesbian Greek myths with cavorting nymphs. Yummy! At a 100 pages definitely worth a try. Thanks.

  3. I read this book last night. It is well worth reading. A reclaiming of the ancient Greek Myths to reflect female power and choice. Also, a tender lesbian love story. I know it is a YA book, but I'm 61 years old and enjoyed it. The descriptions and prose are wonderful.

  4. True that, cygilr1 - Sarah Diemer is a talent that is opening up before us. To me, part of the joy and beauty of the YA novels in the lesbian lit universe is that those of us being a tad longer in the tooth can still proudly admit loving them without feeling like an old letch.

  5. This is simply not on theme, however I noticed that you assessment more aged lesbian lighted. Have you ever completed an assessment with regard to Mary Renault's "The Center Mist/The Friendly Fresh Ladies"? I adore your own evaluations -- they are therefore useful.