The Goddesses is a fantastic thriller, not so much in the sense of fear, but in the way Huntley illustrates just how universal and easy it is for us to find ourselves in our main protagonist’s (Nancy’s) shoes. No frills, this book takes us deeper into our characters, especially Nancy and Ana, the elusive yoga teacher with a dark past.
Nancy’s husband has just cheated on her and in an attempt to save their marriage, they move to Hawaii with their two boys. Its blue waves and easy going lifestyle seem the picture perfect recipe for calm, but Nancy finds herself sinking back into the same patterns as before, the ones that resulted not only in the breaking of her marriage, but in the unhappiness she felt deep within herself. Resolved to break the cycle, Nancy pushes outside of her boundaries and attends a yoga class, where these sinister actions are set into movement. Attracted to Ana’s love of life and genuine way in which she lives in the moment, a strong friendship is formed, both women living their fantasies out in each other: one with a need for the ‘normal’ life, and another searching for that spark of spirit. But this is the beginning of a dark road for both of them, especially Nancy, as she lets herself dwell too much in fantasies and escape on this beautiful island with a deceptively sweet surface.
Don’t expect a rich setting or flowery writing here. The Goddesses is a character driven novel through and through. This intense look at Nancy and her desire for change allows us to realize the true potential of the thriller – how easily we could be in their place. Nancy is our typical suburban water polo mom, but underneath she feels that same complacent status quo feeling most of us can relate to. Feeling as if she has settled down and into a ‘hamster wheel’ of regular behaviors, she yearns for the chance to be spontaneous, to realize herself.
The Characters: Ana and Nancy
In walks Ana, her opposite, although disturbingly similar looking, and this embodiment of freedom. Together they embark on this mutually destructive cycle where each of them takes an escapist holiday in their lives. And slowly Nancy realizes that it’s much more than a deep friendship, but something sinister. All at once it seems that a dark danger has filled the cracks of the crumbling foundation and only a complete new slate can save what’s left.
What I also loved about Nancy was how much I could empathize with her difficulty to set boundaries and her relationship to toxic friendships. I think it’s something a lot of us struggle with, especially young women, in a culture where we are taught that we need to be ‘easy going’ and that our gut instinct is not to be trusted.
Along with the relatability of Nancy, there were a few other themes I enjoyed – such as their exploration of karma. Ana has this theory that if she keeps doing good things, good will come to her. But what happens when it doesn’t? The book looks at this theme and how our paths can diverge. It recognizes that sometimes we have to briefly step into another person’s shoes to recognize our own forms of happiness. Also, that ending twist I never could have seen coming.
All in all, The Goddesses is a compelling summer read that will keep you turning the page. Huntley gives us just a taste of the ominous throughout, building as the volume grows louder. It will immerse you in Nancy’s character and maybe even speak to some of the demons of your own past.
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss.
Where would you move if you wanted to escape?
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If you want to read a great thriller I’ve reviewed, see Girl Before
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