(Publication Day) Book Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

book review-goddesses

Book Title and Author: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley
Publication date and Publisher: July 25, 2017 by Doubleday Books
Genre: Fiction, Suspense
Pages:  320 pages (eBook)
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: July 11, 2017 (ARC-Edelweiss)
Goodreads
goddesses

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship, from the celebrated author of We Could Be Beautiful.

When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy’s husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana’s hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she’s ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. 

A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

My Review:

I had really high hopes for The Goddesses based on the synopsis. However, it was an utter let down of monumental proportions. Let’s start with the premise: Nancy and Chuck, along with their twin teenage sons Jed and Cam, have moved to beautiful Hawaii to start afresh after Chuck’s affair and his heavy drinking. This seems like a great thing with the beautiful island of Kona as the backdrop and a new start for the family.

It would be except Nancy soon meets Ana (pronounced On-a) on her new journey to self-discovery. Initially, their friendship is relatively harmless: helping the homeless by handing out sandwiches and hanging out in the jacuzzi talking about their problems. Then it got bizarre…maybe it was when Nancy suddenly became Nan! Oh yes, the yin to Ana’s yang. And Ana calling Nan her “soulmate”. That should have sent Nan running, but instead, it set the stage for their toxic relationship.

No longer was Nancy a wife trying to fix her marriage or even a responsible mother taking care of her kids. No, she was Nan the mother who let her boys sit around smoking pot and the mother who all but ignores their arson attempts around town that keep getting the cops involved. Nan also completely ignores Chuck, and he starts drinking heavily again. Then Nan begins to lie to her family, spend her nights with Ana, lets Ana move into her house and her bedroom while poor Chuck has to live in the guest cottage, and commits numerous illegal acts without any consequences at all! But wait, Ana is her new best friend and she is suffering and in need!  Yes, I know I’m being a bit obscure about Ana’s suffering but if I go into detail about why Ana needs Nan so much, it will almost be the entire plot of the book since as soon as it was introduced in the story, I knew what was coming and rolled my eyes at Nan for falling for Ana’s con job. But back to Nan…of course, she is going to completely abandon her husband and teenage sons for Ana. That’s what best friends do, right? Seriously, this entire scenario between Nan and Ana was my biggest problem with the book, and why I could not enjoy it like I wanted to. It was not so much the amazingly terrible things Ana talks Nan into doing toward the end, because yes, they are terrible. It was the 40-ish-year-old woman choosing her new bestie over her family every single time!

Yet, that is in part what this story is about: a middle age woman coming of age again. Trying to find where she fits into her own life after her husband’s betrayal and her boys are almost grown men. Ana is abhorrent and Nan is unlikeable, but I had to remind myself that in Nan’s unnatural attachment to Ana she was showing her hurt to her husband betraying her in the worst possible way and her insecurities at having children who really didn’t need her anymore. So, no, she may be a terrible wife and an awful mother, but it was realistic for her to want a friend. Too bad she met someone set out to use her and try to destroy her, but I’m not going to go into detail here either about how Ana attempts to do this or why. To be honest, even I haven’t figured out the why unless Ana was just a sociopath. It was never explained in the book and the ending just sort of, well ended without tying anything up, which was another disappointment since the end was full of drama (the only part that was!) but nothing was ever explained and the reader is left either guessing or shaking their head in bewilderment. I did a mixture of both.

Still, it was a not very well thought out plot, the pacing was ridiculously slow until the last 30%  of the book, which was when I actually wanted to keep reading it, and the characters were pretty boring, again up until the end. It was as if towards the end Huntley got into a groove and became excited about her plot and characters! I wanted to join Chuck for a drink while reading it; I may have needed the drinks more than he did! The only redeeming parts of this book, in my opinion, is Huntley’s admirable prose and the writing skill she shows on and off in spurts throughout the book, which is one of the only things that kept me reading, well that and the lush Hawaiian background. I have a feeling that Huntley is a good writer, but this book just did not work out the way she quite intended. There is nothing suspenseful about the book since the plot could be figured out about 2 seconds after meeting Ana-Single White Female this is not although if it did have that kind of suspense and intensity this would have been a much better book!! I honestly cannot recommend this book even though I hate to ever give that opinion about a book. Unfortunately, this was just a 2.5 Star read for me.

 

**Thank you Edelweiss, Doubleday, and Swan Huntley for the ARC copy of this book in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.**

 

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35 thoughts on “(Publication Day) Book Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

  1. I was reading your review and my thoughts were agree, agree, agree….on all points! They marketed this book wrong, but I loved her first book. What is it about some author’s second book? Great/honest review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot Holly! I was just a train wreck of a book! I’m not sure what went wrong. I’m interested in reading her 1st book but also scared, lol. I know. Some authors have great first books and then they are never good again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jo-Ann! It really did seem promising! And it could have been good with some tweaks and changes. I think maybe she could have benefited from a better editor since other people have said her 1st book was really good but they were very disappointed with this book too.
      Thanks for the award! I’ve got 5 more that I need to do and post from nominations this month, but I took a bit of a break doing them so I wasn’t driving people crazy with award after award posts! 😊 I promise to get to this one soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG I am so behind on my award/tag posts. Honestly, they take forever for me to do! LOL I’m so slow at getting them together. And yes, I know what you mean about worrying about driving people crazy! I try not to nominate the same people over and over again, but it’s been a while since I tagged you and you were on my mind so…please don’t feel pressured to do this!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahaha! I just did an Awesome Blogger Award, well two in one post, and it took me over 4 hours to do with answering the 20 questions, writing 10 questions, and then hunting down bloggers who didn’t appear to have recently gotten the award! I don’t like nominating anyone who seems to just have gotten it or like you said the same people. And then I’m not always sure who does awards, lol. I don’t mind you tagged me! I just have so many right now! July must have been a crazy award month in the blogosphere! I will do it soon or save it when I need something if that is ok 🙂 I’m posting an Award today, and I feel like people are going to wonder what in the world if I keep posting only awards hahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I do the same! I try to reach as many people as I can…share the love 😉 It does take some time and thought!

        That’s a good idea to do it when you need something.
        Haha Sometimes its a curse being so popular 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, it is! I never thought in 3 weeks I’d get 10 awards! I’m so behind on book reviews it’s not that they are getting in the way but so time consuming they’re making it difficult to do them, lol. It takes me a full day to write a review if my writer’s block is in full swing, so I can’t do tag after tag and all my reviews too! I have to do one for tomorrow for an ARC book…I really need to get it done! It’s publication day for the book, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It definitely can be! I spend way too much time on it and then I get frustrated. I’ll have to look that one up 😊 After I spend all day trying to figure out how to review this book, lol. And I have 2 more that need reviewing for next week. Maybe I shouldn’t read so much….

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oh, I would just be miserable! Of course, if I didn’t read I guess I wouldn’t know any better! I could be a video gamer like my oldest and never open a book (eye roll). I finally did finish that book review for tomorrow though! About 1 min ago, lol. I just got on WP to load it from Word 🙂 Not that I have been working on it all day, lol. I procrastinated and just started it around 8:30, so I’m actually quite proud of myself 🙂 That must be a new record!!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Hey, maybe we’ll get more efficient at this stuff, do you think? I just finished my review to, just rereading it to make sure it makes sense!
        I made some decent notes when I was reading it so that helped a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Maybe! I hope that I can. Writing is my achilles heel. If I didn’t stress so with writing, school wouldn’t be so stressful. Hahaha, I’ve never once thought of making notes (facepalm). I just go by memory, lol. Maybe that’s part of my problem 😉 I get so intent reading I would never think of notes…..says the Lit professor LOL I’m blaming this all on sleep deprivation. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Confession: I don’t do it all the time, I thought I’d better write a few notes while on vacation otherwise I would totally forget everything! It’s hard to be that organized! And at the time of reading, you think…oh, I’ll remember that! Haha

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      10. Maybe. I can’t work from an outline ever…they drive me to tears, so I wonder if notes would feel like an outline. I learned that outlines and I are enemies as an undergrad. Thankfully, my professor at the time said not everyone can use one and to write how I can. I’m linear..I have to start from beginning to end. But I’ll try! It’s more getting the words on the paper without doing a million edits.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Lol, I just need my brain to work. Fibro fog is real and somedays it is harder to overcome than others. Especially when combined with meds that are supposed to make you feel better but make you tired. The struggle is real….😴

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Aww, thank you for all the kind words!! I never used to believe it was real until I tried to write and just would stare at a blank page or sometimes be in the middle of a conversation and forget what word I wanted to say, lol. I honestly think it’s my meds for migraine prevention more than anything. I’m on Topamax, a really high dosage to stop my daily migraines, and they call it Dopamax because it makes people forget things. Though I’m not really forgetful so I’m not sure. The writing is more me being a pain than anything…to myself! 😯

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      13. Sounds like you have a number of things working against you 😦 It happens to me regularly…forgetting words that are on the tip of my tongue. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? I suspect I have fibro but I’ve not been diagnosed, the depression anxiety probably play a part, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I do. Yes, I hate forgetting what word I mean to say, lol. I just say thingie a lot 🤣 Half the time I think the meds are more trouble than they are worth. I’m not sure they do anything and have been trying to wean off some and switch to herbal medicines or supplements when they are available. It can take forever to be diagnosed with fibro and most people with it have anxiety or depression. Are you keeping track of your symptoms? That really helps in getting a diagnosis.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Sorry I’m slow to respond, Stephanie! I’ve kinda took a self imposes mini internet break. I had a couple of crappy days but doing better now 🙂

        I think I should be documenting more. I was keeping a little chart but haven’t been doing it lately. I will get back to that tomorrow. It is important! A journal is a good idea, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Don’t apologize, please!! I still have a comment to you to get to but it’s been busy with work things, packing, and today I just didn’t feel like getting on the internet at all so I haven’t. I’m burnout with it since I’ll be on it non-stop until Dec. I’m just done lol.

        I’m sorry you were feeling bad! But I’m glad you are feeling better now 😊 Definitely go back to your chart! I need to keep one too just to see if anything is different. A journal is great if you think you have fibro! It really helps narrow down things. And fibro is like so many things it can help rule out other things or possibly even lead to another diagnosis.

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  2. Wow, that sounds pretty terrible. And I’m trying to figure out what the title has to do with the trashy sounding story. Also, who moves to Hawaii to escape from a rough life? Like were they already living on one of the islands? It’s expensive to live there, anyway, just thinking through how the plot probably starts to fall apart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They thought they were goddesses who needed no men is all I could figure out. No, the family was living in San Diego before they moved and Dad took a job transfer that had a higher salary in Hawaii. They were an upper middle-class family who had a good life in San Diego but Nancy couldn’t live there anymore without painfully thinking of the other woman all the time since the other woman was her husband’s assistant at work. Dad was just a cheating husband who was also an alcoholic. Their twins were perfectly fine until Hawaii, and they only started acting out because of what dad did to mom and his drinking. The plot is all about Ana and Nan and how Ana manipulates their friendship and then tries to destroy Nan’s life and it falls apart when Nan realizes Ana is a monster. Nancy’s husband and her kids are basically just background to the rest of the story.

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