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The Goddess Test Paperback – April 19, 2011
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About the Author
Aimée Carter was born in 1986 and raised in Michigan, where she currently resides. She started writing fan fiction at eleven, began her first original story four years later, and hasn’t stopped writing since. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys seeing movies, playing with her puppies, and wrestling with the puzzles in the paper each morning.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I spent my eighteenth birthday driving from New York City to Eden, Michigan, so my mother could die in the town where she was born. Nine hundred and fifty-four miles of asphalt, knowing every sign we passed brought me closer to what would undoubtedly be the worst day of my life.
As far as birthdays go, I wouldn't recommend it.
I drove the whole way. My mother was too sick to stay awake for very long, let alone drive, but I didn't mind. It took two days, and an hour after we'd crossed the bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan, she looked exhausted and stiff from being in the car for so long, and if I never saw a stretch of open road again, it'd be too soon.
"Kate, turn off here."
I gave my mother a funny look, but turned my blinker on anyhow. "We're not supposed to exit the freeway for another three miles."
"I know. I want you to see something."
Sighing inwardly, I did as she said. She was already on borÂ¬rowed time, and the chances of her having an extra day to see it later were slim.
There were pine trees everywhere, tall and looming. I saw no signs, no mile markers, nothing but trees and dirt road. Five miles in, I began to worry. "You're sure this is right?"
"Of course I'm sure." She pressed her forehead to the window, and her voice was so soft and broken that I could barely underÂ¬stand her. "It's just another mile or so."
After a mile, the hedge started. It stretched down the side of the road, so high and thick that seeing what was on the other side was impossible, and it must've been another two miles before it veered off at a right angle, forming some kind of boundary line. The entire time we drove by, Mom stared out the window, enraptured.
"This is it?" I didn't mean to sound bitter, but Mom didn't seem to notice.
"Of course it isn'tturn left up here, sweetie."
I did as I was told, guiding the car around the corner. "It's nice and all," I said carefully, not wanting to upset her, "but it's just a hedge. Shouldn't we go find the house and"
"Here!" The eagerness in her weak voice startled me. "Right up there!"
Craning my neck, I saw what she was talking about. Set in the middle of the hedge was a black wrought-iron gate, and the closer we got to it, the bigger it seemed to grow. It wasn't just methe gate was monstrous. It wasn't there to look pretty. It was there to scare the living daylights out of anyone who thought about opening it.
I slowed to a stop in front of it, trying to look between the bars, but all I could see were more trees. The land seemed to dip in the distance, but no matter how I craned my neck, I couldn't see what lay beyond it.
"Isn't it beautiful?" Her voice was airy, almost light, and for a moment, she sounded like her old self. I felt her hand slip into mine, and I squeezed hers as much as I dared. "It's the entrance to Eden Manor."
"It looks.. .big," I said, mustering up as much enthusiasm as I could. I wasn't very successful. "Have you ever been inside?"
It was an innocent question, but the look she gave me made me feel like the answer was so obvious that even though I'd never heard of this place, I should have known.
A moment later, she blinked, and the look was gone. "Not in a very long time," she said hollowly, and I bit my lip, regret-ting whatever it was I'd done to break the magic for her. "I'm sorry, Kate, I just wanted to see it. We should keep going."
She let go of my hand, and I was suddenly keenly aware of how cool the air was against my palm. As I pressed the acÂ¬celerator, I slipped my hand back into hers, not wanting to let go yet. She said nothing, and when I glanced at her, she was resting her head against the glass once more.
Half a mile down the road, it happened. One moment the road was clear, and the next a cow was in the road not fifteen feet in front of us, blocking the way.
I slammed on the brakes and twisted the wheel. The car spun a full circle, throwing my body sideways. My head hit the window as I fought for control of the car, but it was useless. I might as well have been trying to get it to fly for all the good I was doing.
We skidded to a stop, miraculously missing the tree line. My pulse raced, and I took great gulps of air, trying to calm myself down. "Mom?" I said frantically.
Beside me, she shook her head. "I'm fine. What hapÂ¬pened?"
"There's a" I stopped, focusing on the road again. The cow was gone.
Confused, I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a figure standing in the middle of the road, a dark-haired boy around my age wearing a black coat that fluttered in the breeze. I frowned, twisting around to try to get a proper look out the back window, but he was gone.
Had I imagined it then? I winced and rubbed my sore head. Hadn't imagined that part.
"Nothing," I said shakily. "I've just been driving too long, that's all. I'm sorry."
As I cautiously urged the car forward, I looked in the rearview mirror one last time. Hedge and empty road. I gripped the wheel tightly with one hand and reached out to take hers again with my other, futilely trying to forget the image of the boy now burned into my brain.
The ceiling in my bedroom leaked. The real estate agent who'd sold us the house, sight unseen, had sworn up and down there was nothing wrong with it, but apparently the jerk had been lying.
All I did after we arrived was unpack the essentials we'd need for the night, including a pot to catch the dripping water. We hadn't brought much, just whatever could fit into the car, and I'd already had a set of secondhand furniture delivered to the house.
That night, my nightmares were relentless and full of cows with red eyes, rivers of blood, and water that rose around me until I woke up gasping. I pushed the blanket off me and wiped my clammy forehead, afraid I'd woken my mother, but she was still asleep.
Even though I didn't sleep well, I couldn't take the next day off. It was my first day at Eden High, which was a brick buildÂ¬ing that looked more like a large barn than a school. There were hardly enough students to bother building one in the first place, let alone keep it running. Enrolling had been my mother's idea; after I'd missed my senior year to take care of her, she was determined to make sure I graduated.
I drove my car into the parking lot two minutes after the first bell rang. Mom had gotten sick that morning, and I didn't trust the nurse, a round, matronly woman named Sofia, to take care of her properly. Not that there was anything particularly menacing about her, but I'd spent most of the past four years caring for my mother, and as far as I was concerned, no one else could do it right. I'd nearly skipped to stay home with her, but my mother had insisted I go. As difficult as the day had been so far, I was certain it was about to get worse.
At least I wasn't alone in the walk of shame through the parking lot. Halfway to the building, I noticed a boy followÂ¬ing me. He couldn't have been old enough to drive, and his white-blond hair stuck out almost as much as his overgrown ears did. Judging from his cheery expression, he couldn't have cared less that he was late.
He dashed forward to reach the front door before I did, and much to my surprise, he held it open for me. I couldn't think of a single guy at my old school who would've done that.
"After you, mademoiselle"
Mademoiselle? I stared at the ground to avoid giving him an odd look. No use in being rude the first day.
"Thanks," I mumbled, stepping inside and walking faster. He was taller than me though, and he caught up in no time. Much to my horror, instead of passing me, he slowed so we were walking together.
"Do I know you?"
Oh, God. Did he expect me to answer? Luckily, he didn't seem to, as he didn't give me a chance to respond. "I don't know you." Brilliant observation, Einstein. "I should know you."
Right outside the office, he swung around, placing himself between me and the entrance. Sticking out a hand, he looked at me expectantly.
"I'm James," he said, and I finally got a good look at his face. Still boyish, but maybe he was older than I thought. His features were hardened, more mature than I'd expected. "James MacDuffy. Laugh, and I'll be forced to hate you."
Seeing no other choice, I forced a small smile and took his hand. "Kate Winters."
He stared at me for longer than was strictly necessary, a goofy grin on his face. As the seconds ticked by, I stood there, shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other, and finally I cleared my throat.
"Ercould you maybe ?"
"What? Oh." James dropped my hand and opened the door, once again holding it open for me. "After you, Kate
I stepped inside, drawing my messenger bag closer. Inside
the office was a woman dressed head to toe in blue, with sleek auburn hair I'd have given my right foot to have. "Hi, I'm"
"Kate Winters," interrupted James, falling into place next to me. "I don't know her."
The receptionist managed to simultaneously sigh and laugh. "What is it this time, James?"
"Flat tire." He grinned. "Changed it myself."
She scribbled on a pink pad of paper, then tore off the sheet and handed it to him. "You walk."
"Do I?" His grin widened. "Y'know, Irene, if you keep doubting me like this, I'm going to start thinking you don't like me anymore. Same time tomorrow?"
She chuckled, and finally James disappeared. I refused to watch him go, instead staring down at an announcement taped to the counter. Apparently Picture Day was in three weeks.
"Katherine Winters," said the womanIreneonce the office door closed. "We've been expecting you."
She busied herself looking through a file, and I stood there awkwardly, wishing there was something to say. I wasn't much of a talker, but I could at least carry on a conversation. SomeÂ¬times. "You have a pretty name."
She raised her perfectly plucked eyebrows. "Do I? I'm glad you think so. I rather like it myself. Ah, here we go." She pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to me. "Your schedule, as well as a map of the school. Shouldn't be too hard to findthe hallways are color-coded, and if you get lost, just ask. We're all nice enough around here."
I nodded, taking note of my first class. Calculus. Joy.
I turned to leave, but as my hand touched the doorknob, she cleared her throat.
"Miss Winters? I justI wanted to say I'm sorry. About your mother, I mean. I knew her a very long time ago, andwell. I'm very sorry."
I closed my eyes. Everyone knew. I didn't know how, but they knew. My mother said her family had lived in Eden for generations, and I'd been stupid to think that I could get away with coming here unnoticed.
Blinking back tears, I turned the knob and hurried out of the office, keeping my head down in hopes that James wouldn't try to talk to me again.
Just as I turned the corner, I ran directly into what felt like a wall. I stumbled to the ground, the contents of my bag spilling out everywhere. My cheeks burned, and I tried to collect my things as I mumbled an apology.
"Are you okay?"
I looked up. The human wall stared down at me, and I found myself face-to-face with a varsity football jacket. Apparently James and I weren't the only ones running late that morning.
"I'm Dylan." He knelt next to me, offering me a hand. I only took it long enough to sit up.
"Kate," I said. He handed me my notebooks, and I snatched them from him, shoving them back into my bag. Two textbooks and five folders later, I stood and brushed off my jeans. That was when I noticed that he was cute. Not just in Eden, but cute by New York standards, too. Even so, there was something about the way he looked at me that made me want to pull away.
Before I could do just that, a pretty blonde girl attached herself to his side and gave me a once-over. She might've been smiling, but with the way she was leaning against him and
clutching his arm, she might as well have peed on him. He was clearly marked territory.
"Who's your friend, Dylan?" she said, tightening her grip.
Dylan looked at her blankly, and it took him a moment before he wrapped his arm around her. "Uh, Kate. She's new."
Her fake smile grew, and she stuck out her hand. "Kate! I'm Ava. I've heard so much about you. My father, he's a real estate agent, told me all about you and your mom."
At least now I had someone to blame for the leak in my room. "Hi, Ava," I said, biting the bullet and taking her hand. "It's nice to meet you."
Everything about the way she looked at me screamed she wanted nothing more than to take me out into the woods and bury me alive. "It's a pleasure to meet you, too."
"What's your first class?" said Dylan, craning his neck to look at my schedule. "Calculus. Iwe can show you where that is, if you'd like."
I opened my mouth to object, figuring there was no reason to tempt fate more than I already was by continuing the conÂ¬versation now that Ava was here, but before I could say a word, he took me by the elbow and paraded me down the hall. I looked at Ava, about to apologize for hijacking her boyfriend, but when I saw the flush of red on her cheeks and the clench of her delicate jaw, the words died on the tip of my tongue.
Maybe my mother would outlive me after all.
Top Customer Reviews
The intro to the book is a scene with Hades/Henry, and it seemed an odd place to start. I didn't really `get' it, though at the end of the book, that scene makes sense. Once you get into everything with Kate, and her mother, the story really starts to flow and I have to say that this is a very well written book. Kate is a likable character - she is been nursing her sick mother, and agreed to move to virtually the middle of nowhere to grant her Mum's dying wish, even though it's the last place she really wants to be.
Really, we just want Kate to catch a break, and this seems to happen when she finds a friend in James. I really liked James, he was quirky, and unique - the kind of guy I would have been friends with in high school as well. Her other friend ends up playing a mean prank on her, dying, and then getting brought back to life by Henry/Hades, and that's when the real story starts.
Not a whole lot actually happens in the story, and like Kate, the reader is left to wonder when these tests are going to start happening. She endures very little actual hardship, in actual fact, life with Henry seems pretty rosy to me - great clothes, great food, and she gets to spend all her dreaming nights with her mother, who is healthy and whole in Kate's dream time. All in all, I consider her a fairly passive character.Read more ›
*BEWARE. MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.*
My 5-word review: I expected to be amazed...
This was my first book from Harlequin Teen Panel and I was so excited to get it, with its beautiful cover and all the hype. But I was sorely disappointed. I had expected to read something filled with mythological references and enough action to satisfy a bored, carsick teenager. Instead I found a dull romance with weak and depressing characters and a senseless plot.
I read the first few pages of The Goddess Test as soon as I received the book, and since there was also a chat with the author at the Teen Panel, most of us (me included) said we loved it. And I did. In the beginning. First off was the extremely suspenseful prologue, and then you were introduced to the protag with the dying mother and then there's the guy in the middle of the road who disappeared(!). All very intriguing. I loved the indescribable affection Kate has for her mom, and when she goes to school, all the characters seemed so vivid: the bubbly but jealous Ava, the mysterious jock Dylan, and of course, the unpopular nice guy James. Kate herself seemed highly relatable. I saw myself in her: the way she put up a wall and was disinclined to make friends (she was going to move back soon anyway), her quietly strong personality (I know that sounds like a compliment to myself LOL), and how she never really did learn how to swim. The scene where Ava tries to leave Kate by the river, but hits her head on a rock and dies, and is brought back to life by the hot and mysterious Henry (in exchange for her reading about Persephone and "being ready") is both scary and gripping. Unfortunately, that was the book's high point and it just went down from there.Read more ›
The Olympians are looking for a new wife for Hades. (Persephone left him.) They have been looking for almost 100 years. This is their last chance before Hades fades (which is like dying but he couldn't die, being immortal and all).
The prologue leaves no doubt as to the identity of Kate, our lead girl.
Fast forward from there. Kate is 18. Her mom is dying of cancer. They are moving to a small town so the mom can die in peace. Kate goes to a new school. A mean girl pulls a terrible prank on Kate. Ava (the prank-puller) is dead in Kate's arm. A man offers to help Ava if Kate promises "one thing." Of course Kate says yes. I mean, he could be a doctor or something. She needs help. What else could she do? Leave Ava dead and be a suspect for murder?
For us readers though, there is no doubt who Henry is. I mean--black cloak, black hair, black big dog, and he goes "I'm Henry, and this is Cerberus" and "Have you ever heard the story of Persephone?" And then he proceeds to raise the dead.
OK. So Kate promises and now she has to go live with Henry/Hades and try to pass the test, the description and timing and nature of which is unknown.
OH Great! Now comes the exciting test and we will see how Kate wins, right? WRONG! NO NO NO! You don't get anything about the test again until the end of the book.
I offer you my friends the list of THINGS THAT ANNOY ME.
1. Kate. She seems pretty silly. OK, she cares about her mom. I get that. But I don't know why she cares about Henry or Ava THAT MUCH. Her decisions are just strange to me. Sometimes she is just plain dumb. She knows someone is trying to kill her.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.5 rating for me. *slight spoiler*
I love anything with Hades, so I found this with a nice twist on the romance. Read more
I read this book a few years ago after stumbling across it within a Barnes and Noble. The beautiful cover caught my eye and the summary prompted me to buy it. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Jamie
Awesome story! This is the first Greek mythology fiction that made me love all the characters; I can't even seem to hate the antagonist. Read morePublished 19 days ago
A breathtakingly silly teenager, fully committed to her own drama lands in an ignorant mash-up of religion and mythology. Don't waste your time with such ridiculousness. Read morePublished 2 months ago by vnuzz
I enjoyed The Goddess Test and have already downloaded the 2nd book in the series. Twists and turns keep the book moving at a fast pace, only 1 of the surprises I figured out, but... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alicia S
I loved this book! I was completely enthralled in the story line. It's a great sort of retelling the ending of where the myths left off. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dione Sage
Interesting plot. I enjoyed the twist at the end. I plan to read the second book.Published 2 months ago by BSK