In Robert’s latest of Dark Olympus, Wicked Beauty is a re-imagining of Helen of Troy, Patrocolus, and Achilles. I have been a fan of the other books with Electric Idol being my favorite. So I had such high expectations for Wicked Beauty. And while it’s different than what I expected, I enjoyed it. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
In Olympus, you either have the power to rule… or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.
Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize… or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.
Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Being a fan of Dark Olympus, I love when authors explore the Greek canon. And so a tiny diversion from the ‘main gods and goddesses’ I was so intrigued in what Robert would do with Helen, Patroclus, and Achilles. Wicked Beauty is structured around a few tasks which break up the character dynamics. Because of that, contrary to the last books where I felt the romance worked or ran alongside the plot, this one almost feels a bit broken down. It’s not a deal breaker, it was just something I had to re-orient my expectations towards. If you love this whole deadly competition vibes though, then Wicked Beauty might be your favorite!
For me, the character dynamics, specifically the lessons they have to learn, were my favorite. Multiple POV, Helen, Patroclus and Achilles all have their own ghosts and expectations to wrestle with. Achilles so desperately wants to have power and Patroclus is happy to help – even if he is convinced everyone he loves will leave him. And poor Helen has grown up in a pit of vipers, hurt by someone she loved, she’s unsure if she can truly find a partnership with anyone. So to watch these three wary and unlikely allies find a rhythm, a cease fire, and the possibility of more is my favorite.
I feel like Wicked Beauty merely solidified the feel of Olympus. The ways it’s a world full of power and families who expect sacrifice. In Neon Gods, we saw the ways Persephone is running from this. And even in Electric Idol, the depth of the sacrifices they are expected to make was explored. But I feel like in Wicked Beauty it’s driven home how traumatic it is to grow up in that. To be burned by a system that is supposed to reward ambition and to realize our isolation. Not going to lie, seeing the dynamic between Achilles and Patroclus was so sweet!
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Their love, the way they communicate, and their whispered apologies. At the same time, I couldn’t help but have my heart break in how Patroclus assumes Achilles will leave him. Their love and the burning heat of it is definitely a reason I enjoyed Wicked Beauty. But to watch Helen have to expose her own vulnerabilities. To see them all try to work together and see the possibilities of their fitting together? That closed the deal. I wish we had a bit more time at the ending to see the resolution, but I have hope for the future! Find Wicked Beauty on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.