Divine by Mistake (A Goddess of Partholon Book) (MIRA)
by P.C. Cast
Review by Liz de Jager
Mira Books Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780778303572
Date: 15 January 2010 List Price £6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
Better known in the UK as one half of the team behind the phenomenally successful YA House of Night books, PC Cast now has her solo efforts published here in the UK by Mira. A NYT bestseller in her own right, PC's novels have received the Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, the Prism, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, Booksellers' Best, and the Laurel Wreath. Reviewed in this issue by Liz de Jager.
"The only excitement Shannon Parker expects while on summer vacation is a little shopping. But when an antique vase calls to her, she finds herself transported to Partholon, where she's treated like a goddess. A very temperamental goddess...
Somehow Shannon has stepped into another's role as the Goddess Incarnate of Epona. And while there's an upside – what woman doesn't like lots of pampering? – it also comes with a ritual marriage to a centaur and threats against her new people. Oh, and everyone disliking her because they think she's her double.
Somehow Shannon needs to figure out how to get back to Oklahoma without being killed, married to a horse or losing her mind... "
What struck me first once I started reading Divine by Mistake is the underlying sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek geekiness of the main character, Shannon. We open with her driving to an estate auction in her Mustang. How cool!
At the auction things become a bit odd and she feels inexplicably drawn towards a vase depicting a high priestess of the Celtic goddess, Epona. She has limited funds and when it comes to bidding on the vase, the price skyrockets beyond her monetary means but Fate intervenes after the sale is concluded to a different bidder. A hairline fracture is discovered in the vase and Shannon walks away with the it...
A massive storm blows in as she's driving home. To cut a slightly longer story short, things happen, there's a bang and she wakes up elsewhere... to discover that the true beloved of Epona, Rhiannon, has created some kind transference spell in which the two women swapped places.
Shannon takes all of this pretty well. There's very little in the way of hysterics or fits, a lot of underlying humour and with the help of Alanna, her chief (erm) handmaiden, learns the ropes of being a priestess, the mainstay of which seems to be luxuriating in the mineral springs bathing, having her hair combed, her face made up and her body draped with beautiful see through silky nothings.
She discovers that she's to be handfasted to a centaur, ClanFintan, who is a Shaman. It's tradition that the beloved of Epona be handfasted to the Shaman and Shannon suspects that this is one of the reasons why the real Rhiannon swapped lives / worlds with her. But, she's a proper Okie gal and forges ahead with the handfasting and quite enjoys making friends with ClanFintan who seems a nice (and ruggedly handsome) guy afterall. He notices Rhiannon's change in character but thinks that perhaps she's overcome whatever bitch-fit she was going through the previous times they had met, and discovers that he quite likes this new Rhiannon who laughs a lot, is nice to her nymphette handmaidens and behaves like a real person, as opposed to a spoiled brat.
Shannon finds herself drawn to the centaur and is pleased to find out that as the Shaman, he can shape-shift into human shape so if the need is there, they could consummate their handfasting...
I admit it – this all sounds utterly hilarious, eyebrow-raising quirky and... well... all a bit rubbish. And I had to overcome my own preconceptions reading it and you know, it really is very well written.
The characters are likeable. Shannon is a revelation, very quirky, very funny and quick on the uptake. She unashamedly loves the clothes, the jewels, and milks the attention she's getting to the max. Nothing gets her down, not even when she starts having out of body experiences when sleeping. She alerts ClanFintan and her people of imminent attack by a group of bat-like vampire creatures called Fomorians. And we segue into the battle scenes and trying to overcome the sneaky Fomorians who do come across as pretty nasty and vile creatures.
Divine by Mistake is a chunky sized novel and could have done with quite a bit of editing, but having said that, this is not a novel you sit down to read quickly. It's immersive and fun – a secondary world fantasy with its tongue firmly in its cheek - poking a bit of fun at the kick-ass independent heroines we've so become used to in the urban fantasy / paranormal genre. Shannon proves you can be tough, sweet and kick-ass all at the same time, whilst heavily relying on a muscled arm to fight on your side.
Divine by Mistake is sexy - maybe an 18 rated book, and not at all aimed at the YA readers that P.C. Cast garnered by co-authoring the House of Night series with her daughter but I suspect the older and more determined YA'ers will pick it up and read it regardless.
MIRA has brought this series to the UK, with subsequent titles coming out in the next few months.