4 out of 4 stars
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Gods and Other Odd Creatures written by Rose Williams and illustrated by James Hillyer Estes, is a humorous retelling of the Greek and Roman stories surrounding deities of ancient times. In addition to the gods’ amusing, garish, and sometimes vengeful exploits, Williams provides a plethora of information about the temples, rituals, and culture of the period, historical wars, and even a phrase or two of Latin.
This book was a delight to read. Williams’s writing style brings new life to these ancient tales and puts a modern perspective on them. Her witty retellings of Zeus’s trysts, Aphrodite’s jealousy and various other legends of gods and mortals, are full of hilarious irony. I found Williams to be highly adept at entertaining her readers while also educating them.
I can see this book being especially beneficial to college students and maybe even some students in high school. Williams organizes the book into easy to read sections, starting with the twelve Greek gods and their stories, and pairing them with each of their Roman counterparts. For instance, she starts by telling the story of Poseidon, then follows up with a section on the Roman god, Neptune, making it clear where the two stories are similar and also where they diverge. This technique is valuable because students in need of knowing the difference between Greek and Roman mythology can find everything they desire in this short volume.
In addition to the twelve main gods, Williams also tells the stories of the various earth gods, monsters, and mortals and even has a section devoted to the rituals, culture, and temples of the gods. While I didn’t enjoy the section on temples as much as the mythology sections, the historical information was interesting and a few jokes were scattered throughout this part of the book too. Overall, if you need to study mythology, Greek and Roman history, and do so while enjoying the author’s ability to poke fun and expose illogical, sexist, and ludicrous drama, this book is for you.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The editing is professional, and I only found some minor typos here and there. The physical copy is lightweight and the illustrations look very attractive on the page. University professors could really engage their students with this book and students would love the humor and appreciate the brevity. The organization of the book makes it perfect for study and the entertainment factor makes it a must for everybody else.
Gods and Other Odd Creatures
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