Although she has previously published other material, Pluto’s Gate is L.E. Sterling’s first full-length novel. A modern take of the famous Greek myth of the abduction of Persephone, it tells the story of Percy who finds her way to the underworld and meets with Pluto, god of Hades. Faced with a sudden and mysterious imbalance in the land of the dead, they set out on a quest.
Pluto’s Gate is full of promises that the author fails to fulfil. We’re shown a world filled with potential yet it is barely exploited. Although the plot has no loose ends (everything comes together in the end), there are many useless scenes (for example the visit of Pluto’s castle during which all rooms are described) and most of the action only happens late in the book. As for the quest, we’re not given much explanation as to why they must go to that specific place and why they are so sure they will be able to save the world by doing so. The ending is very disappointing and left me with a “seriously?!” I felt cheated; it was too easy.
As for the characters, I didn’t find Percy believable. She dies and goes through the whole ordeal without even flinching. Oh, I’m dead? Let’s go for a walk, then. Many of the other characters were two dimensional and I didn’t understand their motivation; they didn’t fit their personality. The best one, by far, was Simon, although I couldn’t even get attached to him.
The quality of the prose was, however, excellent. I especially liked her humorous comparisons and metaphors. Unfortunately, the author often destroys an interesting build up by changing to a “looking back” narrative, which basically tells the reader that Percy is going to be alright. The story would be much more interesting if she just let it unfold in chronological order.
All in all, Pluto’s Gate is not all that it could be. With ten years in the making (as mentioned by the author), I would have expected a much better story.
I actually met L.E. Stine at the DC Books Launch, to know more follow the link.