Lore Olympus Vol. One Review
If you've spent any amount of time on WEBTOON, you've undoubtedly heard of Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe. Let me tell you, it is indeed worth the hype. I've been obsessed with this WEBTOON for a few years now and decided since spring has sprung, I should write a review for my favorite retelling of Persephone's story.
Genre: Greek Mythology, Romance
Category: Cozy Read / Epic Read
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RATING: 5/5 Stars
Plot: 5/5 stars
Characters: 5/5 stars
World: 5/5 stars
If you haven’t read Lore Olympus, this is your sign—unless of course you’re sensitive to topics of mental and emotional abuse, assault, or rape. Luckily, the author has trigger warnings at the beginning of the more extreme episodes in the app, so if you want to try it, I would suggest going that route rather than a printed copy. If you do go with the printed copy, however, there is a bonus chapter at the end featuring Hades and Hera that takes place before the first chapter/episode.
Lore Olympus is a retelling of Greek myths centered around Hades, god of the underworld, and Persephone, goddess of spring. It's an exploration of heartbreak, love, friendship, trauma, loss, rage, infidelity, secrets, truth, and power dynamics.
Volume one covers episodes 1-25, beginning with Hades and Persephone meeting, and ending with the rape of Persephone. Though it gets heavy towards the end, most of the volume consists of an adorable dance between Hades and Persephone, who both have feelings for each other but are too respectful to act upon it. Their constant flirting and nervousness around one another is so freaking cute. Slow burn for the win!
Smythe also explores the tragic love story of Eros and Psyche in this installment. Many popular and lesser-known figures make their appearances as the story progresses.
While there are dark undertones to this colorful and gorgeously illustrated graphic novel, Smythe creates a graceful portrayal of abuse and trauma (physical, mental, and emotional), as well as toxic dynamics and relationships. She contrasts these heavier themes with beautiful examples of healthy boundaries, communication, and relationships—and a ton of comedic relief in the form of Eros, Hermes, Poseidon, and the other Olympians.
Smythe breathes new life into these myths while remaining true to the original content. Her creative spins and torturous cliffhangers keep readers hooked and spending all their coins to get another taste.
I really enjoy the depth Smythe gives these characters between their stories and quirks. Hades is a self-deprecating dog dad with an insecure and tortured soul, deep feelings, and a romantic streak. Persephone is an over-achiever with high ambitions who must learn to step into her powers and live for herself. I love their relationship dynamic—the way Persephone provides Hades with the assurance and love he's missed out on, and how Hades treats her as an adult and with respect.
The supporting cast is just as developed as the main characters of this love story, and many of them play major roles at one point or another. Minthe, Hades' infamous lover and Persephone's rival, is a mean girl who must learn to take responsibility for herself. Eros is a serious mama's boy, but the supportive friend everyone needs. Demeter tends toward helicopter parenting. Hera is a literal queen. Hecate is a highly entertaining busybody who has no time for nonsense. Hermes is an absolute cutie. Zeus plays his typical bossy playboy role. Artemis is a competitive tomboy with a badass knife collection and a refusal to let others see her as inferior to her twin brother. And readers will discover why the fandom refers to the sun god as "Asspollo."
True to the original content, the mortal realm is set in a Classical Greek environment. In her own unique spin, the realms of the gods are modernized cities, illustrating how advanced/evolved the gods are compared to mere mortals. By extension, many of the gods' roles have an updated feeling. The Underworld operates largely out of offices; chariots are sports cars; and models are used to sell products. The contemporary setting with its skyscrapers, fancy suits, vehicles, screens, advertisements, restaurants, malls and shopping sprees, and kitchens lend an element of relatability to the story, and make for cute texting conversations.
Lore Olympus Vol. One is a quick read, but that doesn't mean it's lacking. Some readers complain it's slow-paced, but I believe the character-driven aspect and the way Smythe establishes characters make up for that. It's emotionally evocative; the dark themes are balanced with humor and bright illustrations; and the plot twists and cliffhangers keep readers engaged from start to finish. This, coupled with the short episodic format, makes it perfect for stealing quick moments to read or binging the entire volume.
I would recommend this story to anyone who loves retellings, especially of Greek mythology, as well as fans of slow-burn romance, powerful fem characters, sarcastic/snarky characters, and explorations of deeper political and psychological themes.