Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips: A review

The Greek gods of Olympus are alive in the twenty-first century but they are not well. Their powers are waning because nobody believes in them any more. They all live together in a cramped rat and roach-infested town house in London and they are seriously getting on each other's nerves.

Marie Phillips has imagined a world in which the Greek gods retain their essential characters but must find ways of getting along in a world of humans. Thus, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, is a telephone sex worker, when she isn't getting it on with her fellow gods - or, sometimes, while she's getting it on with her fellow gods. (She has mastered multi-tasking.) Apollo, god of the sun, is a television psychic, and his sister, Artemis, the goddess of hunting, is a professional dog walker. 

The house where the gods all live is slowly succumbing to rot and it is filthy because nobody ever cleans. Artemis decides to do something at least about the filth problem and she hires a cleaner named Alice.

Alice has a friend named Neil who would very much like to be her boyfriend but he's much too meek and shy to do anything about it. Apollo, on the other hand, has no such problem and once he sees Alice cleaning his house, he decides he must have her. Well, no one says "no" to a god, do they? No one except Alice, it seems. That puts Apollo into a world-class snit and soon all hell (literally) is breaking loose. Mad old Zeus escapes from the top floor of the house where the other gods have confined him and begins hurling thunderbolts. Things are looking very bleak for humanity and especially for Alice and Neil who are caught in the crossfire of a battle of the wills between gods. The situation requires a hero and Artemis finds a most unlikely one.

This was a fun and quick read. It was Phillips' first novel and it is very imaginative and funny. For those, like me, who are hooked on Greek mythology, it was very entertaining to read about the gods trying to cope with the twenty-first century, and, in the end, managing very well, with a little assist from a heroic human. Not unlike the Greek gods of old. 

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