Divine Trilogy Review
I was introduced to P.C. Cast through her famous House of Night series. Fitting perfectly into the then-new vampire trend, it was a nice series…until it wasn’t.
But that is a story for another time.
I liked the first several books of the House of Night series, so as is custom, I looked up her other books. The Partholon series is the first one I came across, a fascinating set of fantasy novels based on a combination of Celtic and Greek mythology (yes, Celtic mythology. I had never heard of it at the time!)
I read all five books long back, but I was feeling nostalgic and the fantasy readathon organised by some amazing bookstagrammers made me pick it up again.
Anyway…I’m dividing up this series into two parts because the first (what I call the Divine trilogy) has a completely different storyline than the second (let’s just call it the “other two books” for now). The latter is set two generations after the former, so the world is the same and the books are best enjoyed if read in order, but they’re vastly different.
Anyway…on to the review of the Divine trilogy:
About the books
The first book, Divine by Mistake, starts with Shannon Parker, a high school English teacher in Oklahoma, going on with her life. Until one day, she’s pulled into a mirror world in a bizarre turn of events. In this world (Partholon), she’s a Lady – Beloved of the Celtic warrior goddess and replacement of Rhiannon, who has caused the mess by exchanging places with Shannon. Completely clueless and armed only with a snarky sense of humour, lots of pluck and a kind heart, Shannon has to deal with a ritual marriage to a centaur (yikes!) and lead her new people against horrifying threats.
The second book, Divine by Choice, continues Shannon’s story as Rhiannon forces her back to Oklahoma (just when she had settled in, too!). She has been wrenched, for the second time, from a world and people she loves, but first, she has to clean up the mess Rhiannon made of things in her old world and fight an ancient evil. What fun.
Divine by Blood, the conclusion (in a manner of speaking) to the Divine trilogy, is difficult to describe without giving out spoilers. Suffice to say that it’s the next generation now, and Morrigan, who was raised in Oklahoma by her grandpa, is pulled into Partholon in reminiscence of the first book. Adventure follows and Morrigan faces internal conflict, goes head to head with evil, finds love, grows as a person, etc. etc. But shhhhh. No spoilers :P.
My take on the books
I loved the series! It was unique, a blend of danger, fantasy, mythology and romance designed to captivate. P.C. Cast is a brilliant author and this series proves it, with the scintillating world she builds and the effortless way she gives voice to each character. From the snarky Shannon to the staid Clan Fintan; from the bitchy Rhiannon to the clueless Morrigan, every character has been given depth and a backstory. And aren’t those the two things that define any story? The plot and the characters?
Divine by Mistake gripped me and refused to let go. Shannon is a lovable character with her strong ethics and dry wit, and it was a delight, experiencing the trials and triumphs in the strange new world with her.
Divine by Choice was tinged with loss and desperation, defined by the heartbreak Shannon felt at her unwelcome separation from the husband and people she loved. It was quite a bit darker than the first book, although the first was also had some tragic parts.
Divine by Blood was a completely different story of another person altogether, and it was somewhere in between the first book and the second on the darkness scale. I really liked Morrigan and all the new characters introduced in the third book, though. They were just as loveable (although none were as fun) as Shannon and her crew.
I liked the first book the most because I prefer lighter stories and Divine by Mistake was not as dark as the other two books. Shannon’s witty narration lightened the mood and made the entire story easier to digest. The other two books have a darker edge to them as the protagonists are against higher stakes. But oh. I can’t say any more. 😊
Overall, what I loved most (and I can’t say this enough) was the depth of every character I came across in each of the books.
From a random little girl who loves horses in Divine by Mistake to Morrigan’s equally unimportant Earth crush in Divine by Blood; from Shannon’s Oklahoma best friend Susanna in Divine by Choice to Victoria, Shannon’s new badass centaur friend in Divine by Mistake, I got to know all of them, main or otherwise, intimately. Even that bitch Rhiannon got a backstory that made me empathize with her. Wow.
Often, especially in fantasy books, characters seem two dimensional, neglected in favour of complex worlds and convoluted plots. Not so in this series. The plot was wonderful, of course, but so were the characters.
Read this series if:
You like fantasy or mythology (or both)!
A strong female protagonist with a devastating sense of humour appeals to you
You’re okay with mildly dark and/or tragic themes
Don’t read if:
Fantasy is not your cup of tea
You hate a book in which characters you get attached to die (in this series, all characters become your friends – the good ones, at least)
Mentions of murder, rape and war are triggering for you
Mildly graphic descriptions of violence and sex offend you
The first book made the series. I read the entire series because I loved Divine by Mistake and I tried hard to love book two and book three just as much, but I couldn’t. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like them. Just that…they made me sad and I didn’t appreciate that.
Don't get me wrong; this series is full of captivating phrases and witty repartee. But there's one quote that really stuck with me. So much so that I remembered it for years after reading the book, mostly because it was so true and I totally related to it:
"Don't fuck with an English major, they keep lots of useless crap trapped in their heads. Once in a while they let some of it out and it bites you square on the ass."
I'm not an English major, but I am a writer (a copywriter, to be precise). So this makes a lot of sense to me!