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Marked-Elisabeth Naughton

In Book Reviews, romance novels on August 22, 2010 at 12:19 am

How Could A Romance That Includes The Greek Gods Go So Wrong?

Marked is the story of a young woman named Casey, a waitress at a strip club in Oregon (they have strip clubs in Oregon?), who meets Theron, the leader of a group called the Argonauts who are descended from the gods. No, I don’t mean Jason and the Argonauts.  Well, technically, yes, those are the same Argonauts, but it turns out that Jason wasn’t really much in the original story at all and just hogged the spotlight undeservingly. Theron is a decedent of Hercules, so he’s got some fine pedigree. Just like his relative from eons ago, Theron is big, brave, and beautiful. Casey is just an ordinary Oregon girl who lives in the house her grandmother left to her and owns a book store where she works during the daytime hours.

Casey saves Theron from a demon attack (initiated under the orders of Atalanta, who resides in Hades and coordinates attacks on the Argonauts and the people they protect, the Argoleans) and takes him home to nurse him back to health. Because this is a romance novel, they inevitably move toward sex, but Theron sees a mark on Casey’s body that tells him that she is the one, the person who will have to sacrifice her life because his intended bride, Isadora, daughter of the King Leonidas, the leader of the Argoleans, is dying. See, Casey is the long lost non-Argolean daughter of the King.  Her mother had had an affair with him when he had come to the human world.  Oh yes, Argoleans live in a different world.

Again, because this is a romance, Theron falls for Casey, who half way through the book begins to refer to herself as Acacia, her given name.  They fight demon attacks together and she teaches him about how life is for half breeds like herself when they meet a colony of them who are struggling under constant attack from demons.

The author of Marked has forgotten the basic idea of all storytelling:  stories don’t have to be simple, but they do have to be clear.  This story isn’t. The number of characters is relatively small, but the story is confusing.  In addition, Naughton’s use of names and references that already have meaning is confusing.  Argonauts means something to people already, as does King Leonidas.  Recycling references like this creates confusion.

The change of Theron from sexy but focused Argonaut to thoughtful, caring Argonaut who refuses to do as his King demands and risks everything he has sworn to protect to be with the woman he loves is implausible because there is no sense that before he meets her that he’s considered anything but deference to his King and his wishes.  It’s also a bit preachy because while he’s learning about his true love, he’s lectured to by her and the half breed leader about the terrible situation King Leonidas has created for these people because he doesn’t care about them, despite their Argolean blood. It’s all very moral and boring.

Using the Greek myths as the basis for a modern day romance is dicey but doable. The problem is that for it to be done, the original myths have to remain unchanged.  Building upon them to fit modern day life is possible, but using figures from the myths in roles people don’t associate with them doesn’t work in Marked.  Greek mythology, its heroes, and its gods have been a treasure trove for literature throughout the ages since the Greeks precisely because they are symbolic.  To remove the symbolism and retrofit the heroes and gods into a modern story that doesn’t retain the core of the myths that makes them important is a recipe for failure.  That’s what happened in Marked.
-Alexandria

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  1. I did’nt think it was possible to ruin Greek mythology but hey here you go. Lol. Great post!

  2. Thanks! The initial idea for this series (yes, there’s another book like this about the descendant of Achilles, I think) sounded fantastic. But the use of names and ideas already fully entrenched in the culture in different ways doesn’t work here.

    Keep posting comments! Moira and I love to get them!

    -Alexandria

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