Greek mythology has always been something I have an interest in. While I haven’t had the chance to study it extensively, I did write a couple of essays on the subject while I was in middle school, and I took a Greek history class in university.
I know there are plenty of books out there that cater to people like me — those of us who have an interest in Greek mythology but haven’t thoroughly studied it. I’ve read some of them, but there are still plenty left. Food for the Gods — the first in Karen Dudley’s Epikurean Epic series — is the most recent to cross my path.
Admittedly, I found and brought home the second novel in the series, Kraken Bake, before Food for the Gods. It wasn’t until I went to start reading it that I realized it was a sequel. But it didn’t take me long to get my hands on Food for the Gods.
Set in ancient Athens, Food for the Gods introduces us to Pelops, prince of Lydia. Having been turned into stew by his father and brought by to life by the Gods, Pelops has developed a passion and talent for cooking. He’s quickly rising in Athens’ ranking of celebrity chefs, but a jealous rival and the unfortunate arrival of creatures seeking vengeance may just undo everything he’s worked for.
I know that summary may not do a very good job of getting this across, but Food for the Gods was one of the funniest books I’ve read in quite a while. Dudley’s writing style balances humour and serious subject matter very well, somehow managing to combine the two into a narrative that’s difficult to put down.
I loved the way she characterized the Gods. Finding a way to bring such well-known characters to life in a unique, enjoyable way can be difficult, but Dudley didn’t seem to have any trouble with the task.
And personally, I was also really interested in the culinary aspect of the novel. The dishes Pelops prepares throughout the novel sound absolutely delicious, and I can’t help hoping there’s a way I can twist some of them so that I can make them myself.
By turns whimsical, thrilling, hilarious and touching, Karen Dudley’s ingeniously original Food for the Gods and its sequel, Kraken Bake (forthcoming in 2014), reinvent a classical hero, while bringing to life the crowded, throbbing streets of ancient Athens in a way that both honours the Greek myths and reinterprets them for a new generation of readers.
Having been chopped up and served to the gods for tea, Pelops, Prince of Lydia, is kindly remade by the Olympian dinner guests and gifted with a talent for the culinary arts. But after heading for the bright lamps of Athens, Pelops discovers that life is not exactly golden for a celebrity chef in the golden age of Greece. Ruthless patrons and jealous rivals are bad enough, but when a couple of the less responsible gods offer to help him make a name for himself, Pelops begins to realize that when the gods decide they owe you a favour, you’d better start saying your prayers.