book review

ARC Review – Goddess of the Hunt by Shelby Eileen

Title: Goddess of the Hunt

Author: Shelby Eileen

Publisher: Self-published

Publication Date: February 20th 2019

Format: E-book

Genre: Poetry

Page Count: 100 (approx)

Summary: “A poetry collection about the mythic life of Artemis, Greek Goddess of the hunt. Told through the perspective of Artemis herself with the contributions of a few other Greek Goddesses. This collection reimagines and follows Artemis navigating her lifelong vow of chastity and, rather than suffering through it, owning it as a facet of her aromanticism and asexuality. Immerse yourself in a cultivated tempest of poems illustrating Artemis as a warrior, whose shoulders have known an excessive weight of responsibility, and who always fights to remain her authentic self among people who would change her.” (Source: Goodreads)

Content Warnings: blood, sexual harassment, body objectification, misogyny, internalised arophobia, naked body imagery, sexual imagery, deliberate use of acephobia, representation of alcohol misuse, issue of lack of consent, drunken behaviour

Rating: ★★★ (3 stars)

I received an ARC of this poetry collection in exchange for a review, thanks to the author.

Hey you! Here’s another ARC review for you. I am a massive fan of Shelby Eileen’s work, so this was an honour to read their work again. If you haven’t read their other work, you dang well should! They have 3 other poetry collections – Soft in the Middle, Sunfish, and Sunshine, Sadness and Other Floridian Effects.

Let’s get into this review then!

So, I was surprised by this collection. I thought it would be an automatic 5 stars, but it wasn’t. It was a tricky read for me, and I don’t know why. The first thing that stood out to me was the absence of content warnings (which I’m sure the author will include in the published version), but it disappointed me a little. It didn’t stop me from reading it, but it did make me cautious.

I quite liked the epigraph which was a quote by Nikky Finney from her poetry collection ‘Head Off & Split’; it really seemed to channel the Artemis energy that I was expecting – but then the collection didn’t seem to be as impactful as I thought it would?

However, I really liked the opening prose section about Artemis’ origins. The section briefly touched upon consent which I really liked the imagery of:

The arrows she had slung about her body were warnings to those who followed her around expecting their attention to be received warmly. One arrow said, “touch me and you will die”. Another said, “touch anyone who doesn’t wish to be touched and you will die”. They all said, “violate a boundary, no matter how strict or malleable, and you will die”.

from p.5

I could really visualise Artemis walking around and her arrows whispering. Amazing imagery.

Credit: Unsplash photographers

The poetry collection also explores asexuality and aromantic representation. It was really refreshing to see the ace spectrum illustrated as these orientations are often seen in absolutes:

Artemis, age; A lifetime of maidenhood sounds like fantasy. Sounds like freedom. Still, she notices bodies. Still, she feels dizzy at the thought of stretch marks, oiled shoulders, wrapped in silk, mouth-watering. Wanting is a labyrinth in which her navigation falters.

from p.12

As someone who is sexually fluid, meaning that I fluctuate between being bi, polyam, pan, demi etc, this particular poem meant a lot to me. I also loved the idea of an ace/aro Artemis, it was really empowering. Just to note, the author is ace, so this poetry collection is ownvoices.

There was also another clever allusion to the myth of Cupid, the ancient Roman god of love, or in this case to be consistent with the mythology, Eros, the ancient Greek god of love and desire:

my arrows find homes in their hearts

easy

it would be romantic

if I ever had a taste for that sort of thing

from p.17

Honestly, I now love arrow metaphors. Give me ALL THE METAPHORS. What was really intriguing about this reference was the parallel between Artemis, the virgin goddess, and Eros, the god of desire. Referring to Eros’ Roman equivalent, Cupid’s “arrow” is a common trope in literature, art, media etc for romance and desire. But here, it isn’t about romance, it’s about defending oneself from predators. At least, this is my interpretation based on the previous poem in the collection.

My main criticism of the poetry collection is that it started strong but it fluctuated in clarity for me. There were some powerful hecking lines and poems in there, but I struggled to connect to some of the poems, and I normally CONNECT to Eileen’s poetry, so this partially upset me? I think I need to reread the collection at a later date as it might have been my mindset as I’ve been all over the place at the moment. Nonetheless, I still recommend this indie poetry collection!

Until next time, be brave & bookish!

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