Set in Ancient Greece, Beasts of Olympus is a new series of short adventure novels that chronicle the labours of the young boy, Demon. Demon is son of Pan and brand new official beast keeper to the gods. This is not an easy occupation, as the gods’ stables include pointy, poisonous basilisks, nine-headed water monsters and giant indestructible lions.
Demon’s daily deeds include a great deal of poo-shovelling and feeding, whilst trying to avoid being eaten or being stung by an enormous scorpion. His beast-keeping skills are truly put to the test when Hades ‘invites’ Demon down to the Underworld, where his guardian, the Hound of Hades, is rather poorly: ‘He won’t ssstop sssneezing and howling,’ complains the humourously sibilant Lord of the Underworld.
This is a grave problem for Demon for several reasons, chief of which being the fact that Hades is likely to toast his toes to cinders if he can’t cure the beast! Fortunately, Demon need not face this challenge alone. He is aided, as always, by his trusty, mechanical (and strangely anachronistic) flying metal medicine box. The box quickly calculates a cure for the canine’s cold but, naturally, it requires a collection of rare ingredients for which a quest must be undertaken.
Demon therefore embarks on an expedition that has all the hallmarks of a classic Hellenic quest. He has to nurture the ego of narcissistic gods, hunt for strange flora, and avoid an army of undead skeletons. His near-impossible mission is complicated still further by the hunger in his belly and the knowledge that eating anything at all in the Underworld will lead to an eternity as a slave to Hades.
Despite Demon’s unenviable predicament, though, there are few moments of genuine tension. Demon and his friends are harmless, well-meaning and blessed with good fortune throughout. Though younger readers will be eager to see him succeed, they may also be somewhat unfulfilled by the lack of excitement that may have been provided by additional moments of peril.
The series Beasts of Olympus will allow a young audience to delight in the fascinating mythical creatures of Ancient Greece in the same way that Percy Jackson and other favourites have captured the imaginations of older children. Demon will have plenty of adventures ahead of him… there are countless more gods, goddesses, monsters and mythical creatures for him to meet!