Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for this free copy for my honest review of The Palace of Eros. I love a retelling of Greek Mythology and the story of Eros and Psyche was a beautiful retelling. I automatically felt sorry for Psyche because of the harm the unwanted attention brought on her. In this retelling Eros is a non binary deity, and I loved it. Her love, her words, the caring of Psyche made me fall in love with Eros. Betraying her own mother Aphrodite to keep Psyche safe was a big risk, a risk Eros was willing to take. Their love was beautiful, the words they used for eachother had me swooning. I only wished their love story had more substance to it. I wanted to see why Psyche actually fell in love woth Eros. There was a lot of love making I just wished there was more. The bit of conversation they did have made me crave more from them. It was still a good book and I would recommend anyone to read it.

Was this review helpful?

The Palace of Eros is an incredibly poetic retelling of a queer/sapphic Eros and Psyche. Eros being gender-fluid was a really interesting concept that the author explored and which i found fit really well with the characters. This truly a great take on their story. How ever, I had a hard time with their connection and chemistry. I found a lot of the their relationship was built on nothing but sex and night time passion. I understand the idea of the rules and the ways they need to protect what they are doing, how ever each time I thought we were getting closer to a meaningful conversation, everything returned to lustful desire. You only get so much of what the other is truly feeling, which is a desperate need due to the fact that they can't even see each other. I also found each POV to be quite repetitive and very wordy. A lot of what was said was not flowing as well as id wished. I was incredibly content with what was happening and their circumstances, how ever had there been a deeper character development and deeper bonding, this would have easily become a favorite. I just felt as though Eros was deflecting the whole book. Other wise, I found this to be a really agreeable and delicate read!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley for giving me a free copy for an honest review.

A poetic retelling of a queer/sapphic Eros and Psyche. Eros being gender-fluid fit so well with them and suited who they were. I loved this take on them.
What I struggled with though was the lack of relationship shown through the book. Eros and Psyche's relationship leaps into a nothing but sex bond within a few rushed over days. It leaves it a little difficult to believe the love in this is anything but "desire" and pillow talk. You only get so much of what the other is truly feeling, which is desperately needed since the lack of sight is a foundation for a good quantity of the chapters.
Had there been deeper character developments and longer bonding between the two this would have easily been a four star rating for myself. I just couldn't get past the absence of their relationship.

If you enjoy Greek mythology retellings I would highly recommend.

Was this review helpful?

2.75 💫

Greek mythology retellings are such a fickle thing in my experience. Striking a balance of sticking to the original myth, while bringing it into the modern age, all while having the reader connect with this world and these characters from many millennia ago is a very hard balance to find. This is especially tricky with a myth like Psyche and Eros which is very character-driven. Getting the characters and dialogue right is often what I find lacking in many retellings, but with plot-heavy myths, sometimes its not as important.

This retelling had so much potential, the change in making Eros femme and gender-fluid in a way added so much more stakes to the plot, and made Psyche's betrayal hit even harder. The themes of the power of language, gender binaries and hierarchies, as well as how much gender non-conformity threatens systems of power, and who and how we define monsters fit beautifully into the story, and can definitely be taken out of this context and applied to our world. This retelling also stuck to the original myth, to my knowledge, quite well, which seems like a given, but I've tried to read other retellings of this myth that go a completely different direction. The additional sprinkling of other famous myths was also nice to see and gave a sense of where this one took place on the mythology timeline loosely.

My biggest gripe with this book was that I found myself not caring due to the way the characters and dialogue were written. Psyche particularly felt super flat to me. This did get a bit better once she arrived at the palace, but when Eros would talk about Psyche and describe her as intelligent and full of fire I found myself thinking where on earth did you get that? This was likely not helped with the way the dialogue was written. A lot of the interactions felt forced and awkward. It's a small thing, but I was really irked by hmph being written as dialogue. I would much rather have this being described as a grunt or a heavy sigh, putting it as dialogue and in quotations seemed like such an odd choice. This one also had the case of trying to make the dialogue sound more modern, and it just made the conversations feel that more uncanny. I also felt very little chemistry between Psyche and Eros, which hurt my enjoyment the most, as their relationship is the centrepiece of this whole story. Additionally, this story often had Psyche's narration addressing the reader, which I was fine with, it's a common style used for retellings and it works well for these cases. The transitions between dialogue and narration were really awkward, and often times her internal dialogue of going back and forth between ideas, and it felt overbearing, and I often found myself irritated with her character. This narration would also often describe the conversation had but not in proper dialogue. Like it would say word for word what was being said but without quotations. It made for some awkward tenses, and then would switch back to dialogue. This could be an error, but it happened a lot, and it always drew me out of the immersion.

As mentioned above, there were some really important themes covered in this story, and I thought they fit really well into the original myth. However, with the way the narration and dialogue was written, it felt like the author was hitting you over the head with these themes, they were so blatant. An example of this is in the conversation between Eros and Demeter, so much of that interaction felt like it was there only to drive home the overarching points of the story. Psyche's internal monologue and narration had this as well. Sometimes a whole ebook page would be narration discussing the theme, with no paragraph breaks. If these themes had been more seamlessly integrated, and done more sparsely it would have been more effective. As a result, I found myself skimming a lot near the end, and many lines that had the potential to be quite impactful weren't.

As far as Psyche and Eros myth retellings go, this one had a lot of potential. If you aren't familiar with this myth and want to read a retelling, this one might be worth a try.

Was this review helpful?

I definitely didn’t think I could find another book on the same level as Song of Achilles or Circe, but The Palace of Eros definitely is. Dare I say it’s better…? This is a must read!

Was this review helpful?

A beautiful queer retelling of an ancient story. A spinning of old yarn that forms a new tapestry to share its story in a way that ties it to our modern world. And in doing so makes something entirely new.

This was a beautiful story, rich in its language and storytelling. However, at times it felt almost too rich for me? Like a chocolate cake with just slightly too much bittersweet chocolate, delightful but only in small bites.

This took effort on my part to read. It's told like a literary classic, and I'm not one to read classics. But I made it through and it was worth every ounce of effort.

To see the machinations of a goddesses turmoil as she faces who she is, who she wants to be, and who the other gods force her to be, was a breathtaking approach to what those of us questioning our gender often face. A desire to be a bit of everything and perhaps nothing at all, while the world around us tells us you must be either this or that.

Then to see what it is like when going up against something you could never understand, and the strife as you find new freedoms, while also beginning to see the gilded cage you live in.

If you can parse the heavy handed language and turmoil of the story I highly recommend giving it a read. But don't go in expecting a simple spoonfed storyline. Be ready to put on your literary brain and analyze a truly interesting take on an ancient myth.

Was this review helpful?

This is one of those reads that I REALLY wanted to like, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. I think one of my main issues is that I went in expecting a mythology retelling (which it IS) but it ended up reading a lot more like a romance for the majority of the book. The pacing was also a bit difficult for me to grapple with, I was really enjoying the begging until we got to the palace, where it began to drag, and that didn’t let up until we left, when it suddenly felt like a race to the finish line. The end had some hand wavey overarching feminist statements that felt a bit out of place, as our main character hadn’t previously (explicitly, at least) expressed these sentiments. While I do understand what the author was going for here, in terms of giving the work a sort of moral root, I wish this had been more well woven into the work as a whole through our characters actions and thoughts, as dropping it in at the end felt a bit superficial. I struggled in a similar way with the romance as a whole, as it felt very insta-lovey, leaving me wanting more development of this relationship beyond just their lust for each other. While overall not my personal favorite, I do see how a romance reader might enjoy this more than me, and I hope it finds that audience.

Was this review helpful?

greek mythology retellings are my kryptonite. I loved this book so much it was such a great take on psyche and eros and written in prose??? so freaking good great perfect

Was this review helpful?

As a huge Greek mythology fan and a queer woman always looking for more LGBTQ+ rep, I was so excited to read The Palace of Eros, especially because Psyche and Eros is one of my favorite myths. I think because of this, I may be coming down a bit harder than the average reader (plus, I am very picky about my retellings), so take all of this with a grain of salt. Because this book really didn't hit for me the way I was hoping it would.

But first: there is a lot to praise in The Palace of Eros, the representation especially. I love this sapphic take on the myth, and I loved nonbinary Eros. I lived for the sections from her POV and the way that De Robertis uses the myth to draw real-world parallels to the confines of the gender binary. Even though, as other reviewers have pointed out, De Robertis's Eros is far from the only nonbinary deity to exist in Greek myth (a definite oversight here), I still liked their take on Eros. The entirety of Part 2: The Palace, was one of my favorite sections because of this. Not only is the spice exquisite, it's authentic and beautifully done. I wish, yet again, there was more traditionally published queer rep like this in the romance sphere. I also liked how the ending shook down; the trials of Psyche were done very nicely, and I like seeing her really come into her own.

But, unfortunately, the rest of the book was kind of a miss. Psyche and Eros's relationship timeline and personal arcs both felt very uneven. They sleep together rather quickly, which is totally fine for me...but they also EMOTIONALLY get together rather quickly. I get that part of the myth is Eros getting shot with their own arrow, but what I didn't love was how fast Psyche also fell in this version. Their relationship does develop nicely during Part 2 and beyond, though. Overall, I felt the second half of the book was far stronger than the first half, which just feels very similar to a lot of other myth retellings up until the midpoint. I also didn't love the writing style. This is 100% a me thing - I hear it being described as poetic and lyrical, which it is, but it does that Maggie O'Farrell Hamnet thing that I call "the rule of threes." You know the thing. "Her arms. Her strong arms. Her muscular arms." Anyway, too much of that thing just totally takes me out of the rhythm of the book. I wish the language had been a bit more edited and spare in places, because when it is, it's actually quite lovely.

I would definitely love to see more queer myth retellings, and I appreciate The Palace of Eros for what it is...but I also wish it had been a little more.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books, and Caro De Robertis for gifting me this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review!

Was this review helpful?

💜🪽🏛️ Rating: 4/5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
This was my first time dipping my toes into the pool of Greek mythology retellings, and I absolutely loved this one! Tbh, queer retellings will always have a special place in my heart, but the way @caro_derobertis wrote this was absolutely incredibly amazingly divine.

The tempestuous beauty Psyche longs for freedom from the shackles of societal expectations. When the nonbinary deity of desire, Eros, falls for her, they whisk her away to a hidden palace of love, defying the gods themselves. In this magical sanctuary, they share nights of passion, but Psyche’s days are clouded with doubt as she yearns for truth and transparency. Her quest for honesty leads to a divine confrontation that reshapes the heavens and redefines the essence of love and freedom.

The narrative was beautifully descriptive while still remaining shimmering and tremulous enough to lend a magical air to the whole thing. While the prose did require me to really focus in some of the denser parts, I found the whole read to be really rewarding and absolutely loved every moment of it. If you liked Circe, The Song of Achilles, or similar retellings but would like to see something from the queer perspective, this is your book!

Thanks to @atriabooks and @netgalley for providing me this eARC to review, and a special thanks to @caro_derobertis for writing this spectacular piece.

Was this review helpful?

I absolutely loved everything about this book. The pacing was perfect, writing was beautiful, and it was such a poetic piece. The language immediately captivated me and I couldn’t put the book down. I will DEFINITELY be purchasing when it releases

Was this review helpful?

This got repetitive in the palace scenes (which maybe was the point as it showed the monotony of psyche’s life) but as soon as she became defiant and stood up for herself they switched povs Like why when a character finally becomes confident and self assured despite the confines of greek society do you switch to someone who does not have to deal with that?? or at least develop eros’ own constraints more they kind of came out of nowhere/were underdiscussed.

Overall pretty good and i was reading another book at the same time and they talked about this myth (which i had actually never read before #FAKEGREEKMYTHOLOGYFAN) in detail and that was cool.

thanks to netgalley and atria books for the arc!

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to enjoy this book. The overall plot and characterizations were gorgeous and I loved the concept of retelling this particular myth because of its potential. However, the prose felt clunky and heavy handed at points and I had a hard time engaging with it at times. Both the beginning and the ending could use some editing, but the middle was very well written.

Overall, 3.5/5 stars

Was this review helpful?

Although I came into this book knowing the story of Psyche and Eros, I can honestly say I was not expecting the way this retelling read.

This novel was more on the poetic side-- sapphic side, in the way the narration was about what the characters were feeling and the celebratory language of love and desire and passion and lust, but also sapphic in the way that the love was written to be between Psyche and Eros, woman to woman.

This book takes on the challenges of gender and society in a mythological way which I think was very creative and enticing. The way Eros' conflict is both with the gods but also within herself is so accurate to modern cases of dysphoria and discrimination. I liked the way De Robertis tackled this complex emotion and experience.

I wish I could actually feel more of the love between Psyche and Eros, however. It just didn't feel believable to me. Much of the passion came from the sex, and the supposed conversations they would have in the night, but I didn't feel that I saw much of any conversation until the very end. I think the relationship needed more developing and less internal monologue of their anxieties.

I think both characters needed further development. Psyche is written at first to be trodden and misfortunate but later during is suddenly astute and quick-witted when there was no mention or showing that earlier in the book. And the way Eros speaks to Psyche is so vague and cliche-- "You are everything", "You are nectar to me"-- it just seemed dramatic and almost like a completely different character. And along with these inconsistencies, there was a part where Pscyhe is telling Eros that her younger sister lives a bad life, even though Psyche is the youngest of the sisters. That took me out of the story immediately.

And just the way the dialogue read in general-- it felt so modern and lengthy. I simply wish there was more world description and less conversation. More prose and less internal thoughts.

Overall, I think this was a bold take on this story. I think everyone knows that the gods were sexual beings but it was really shown in this novel in a raw and open way. I think it might've been a little too stretched out, but it wasn't unbearable.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This is probably one of my favorite feminist retellings of greek mythology that I have read so far. I loved that Robertis leaned into Eros genderfluiditu and I love that we got to see Pysches reactions to being married to a non-binary person in the ancient greek world. I also really enjoyed Robertis writing style, it was so descriptive and really made me feel like I was in the characters shoes through out the story. The only thing that I sort of side eyed with this book was how willing psyche was to get down and dirty with various household objects but I mean it's an greek mythology retelling so I can't really be shocked.

Was this review helpful?

It's a 4.5 for me, I loved this book so much. I am a huge fan of Madeline Miller's books as well as greek mythology in general and this was a perfect mix for fans of both. The story of Eros and Psyche is probably my favourite of all myths/legends and to see it reimagined in a sapphic retelling was not something I thought I needed but now I need SO MUCH MORE OF. More people need to start writing these types of retellings because greek mythology is so fluid in its stories and so easy to interpret in different ways. I really enjoyed this and I hope to read more from this author in the coming years!

Was this review helpful?

I’ll start with what I liked. The prose was pretty good, though Eros’ dialogue did feel awkwardly modern at times, and it was entertaining.

With that said, this book kind of felt like a slap in the face to Greek mythology fans. One of my favorite things about Greek mythology and what draws me to it is the fact that queerness is normalized, and I am not alone in this. Greek mythology is incredibly popular, specifically amongst queer people, for this reason. Caro De Robertis just decided to ignore this.

Psyche says that “Even outside of marriage, two women could not be together, it was unheard of.” This isn’t true. While Ancient Greece was extremely sexist so we don’t have nearly as many accounts of queer women as queer men, they did exist. Obviously there was the famous lesbian poetess Sappho, but also Plato mentioned in his Symposium women who "do not care for men, but have female attachments"

Furthermore, Eros has the ability to change her body so sometimes she’s female, sometimes male, and sometimes in-between, and for some reason Zeus hates this. He says, “She was born female; to defy that is a crime.” And “when she becomes a man, she must be fully male. None of this in-between, blended nonsense.” There are multiple gender/sex-bendy deities in Greek mythology such as Aphroditus and Hermaphroditus and even more stories of witches or gods changing peoples sexes for one reason or another. WHY does anyone care about Eros doing it. Also they act like Eros is the only lesbian goddess when Artemis is literally right there. And if Zeus found Eros and their relationship so appalling, why did he let Psyche become a god? I just feel like if you wanted to include homo/transphobia in your story why choose Ancient Greece and specifically Ancient Greek deities? Normally making a queer retelling comes with the difficulty of the added homophobia but not here, yet it was added anyway and it made the story make less sense.

I don’t regret reading this, but it was disappointing.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for the eARC!

I am a Greek Mythology anything, girlie, and then you make it sapphic?! Sign me up!
-I loved the way that gender and sexuality were explored in this and I thought it was a great take on the Psyche-Eros myth.
-I think this did a a great job of demonstrating the belittling and demeaning reality of women in historical (and let's be honest, current) periods.
-I loved the centering of queer love and joy in this story, and how understanding and embracing your queerness is healing!
-The prose was fluid and elegant.
However, I do definitely agree with other reviewers on here that there could have been more development in the characters, especially Psyche. And the ending didn't really HIT ME, ya know?

Was this review helpful?

Dnf 57%
I loved the author’s first novel. I am grateful to have been given an arc for their second book. The thing that I feared going into this story is that Greek mythology has become so popular that everyone is writing it. I am happy that Greek mythology is getting more attention as it is very interesting but not everyone should write about it. I feel that there’s a certain way one should write about it and not every author can do that. This book did exactly what every author trying to recreate the hype of Madeline Miller, Natalie Haynes, and Pat Barker. I think De Robertis should focus on historical fiction or contemporary works. Their first novel evoked so many emotions but this called flat. The plot went exactly how I thought it would which wouldn’t be an issue if the events happening were entertaining.

Was this review helpful?

stories in Greek mythology have been told and re-told countless times in my lifetime alone, but this one is by far my favorite (Sorry, TSOA). I could be biased because it's a sapphic re-telling, but that's not the end-all be-all of its appeal, and that much is made clear from the very beginning: it's also a commentary on women's place in society, which unfortunately is still reflected in the society we live in today. it's a loud protest filled with a woman's rage, it's a quiet validation filled with a woman's desire.

In short, it's a story by a woman, for women. It couldn't be any simpler than that. This is where the triumph of the book lies.

notes on its structure: its pace is slow, but unlike the other classic novels that feel like trudging through thick mud, this one feels like languorously swimming through fresh honey. Could also just be because the syntax is far easier to resonate with than other archaic classic novels' of course, but the fact remains the same: it's incredibly sloooooow, but in a good way, as in, it's clear that it's intended to be told in that pace. i always like when the pace of a novel matches what the story calls for, and this one accomplishes that too.

that said, i did have to put this novel down several times so i could come back to it with a renewed readiness to drown, but if you have higher tolerance for meandering prose, you could probably read it all in one go.

ok now for the juicy part: you're probably wondering, as i have, if Eros and Psyche are as doomed in this re-telling as they've always been in the original version of the story, or if you'll read a subversion of it somewhere? i'll admit i didn't really know much of what happened beyond the bittersweet ending of the original story between Psyche and Eros: spoilering in case you don't remember how their story ended and don't wish to remember it before reading this novel <spoiler>Psyche disobeys Eros and shines a light upon her form, which in turn shatters the veil which keeps the two of them hidden from the rest of the other gods. from what i remember this is where the story ends, sort of like a tale of doomed love, cos like what love, hidden from the rest of the world, could survive? </spoiler> so im glad to see it continue afterward.

for all my commentary on this novel's slow pace, i got surprised towards the end when i was hurtling through Part III, paused to check the page number, and found that there were only 30 pages left in the novel?! and lo and behold the next page announces Part IV, which is the shortest, sweetest part of all.

thank you Atria Books and NetGalley for providing the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?