I knew little about the plot of Discord’s Apple before I started; I simply wanted to read it since I like Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville series. So I was quite pleased to see several elements I like used together: Homer, Virgil, King Arthur, a story within a story, and just a touch of politics.
Evie Walker is a comic book author, using real world events to write about a team of commandos. Now, with the world on the brink of nuclear war, she can barely tell who is good and bad to write the next chapter. But she’s distracted from her work by the impending death of her father and her apparent assumption as his duties protecting various objects from myth, legend, and fairytales.
Hera wants the apple which started the Trojan War. Others, including Alex – a former Greek warrior – want to keep it out of her hands in order to keep the chaos of the apple from disturbing the delicate world situation. I liked Alex and enjoyed the passages detailing his backstory, but I felt like his relationship with Evie was underdeveloped. It felt like they had to get together because they were the male and female lead. His relationship with Apollo was more complex and intriguing because it didn’t fall into a standard relationship pattern.
I also felt like that the passages about Evie’s job pulled me out of the story. She was supposedly scripting the comic, but the passages she wrote were all verse, nothing like a comic script. (Also, I kept wondering who her letterer was. I did assume the artist took care of both pencils and colors.) Tracker’s story held some interest in itself and told about Evie’s character, but it just didn’t feel necessary.
Now that I’ve said what doesn’t work for me, I must admit I liked Discord’s Apple quite a bit. Vaughn’s near-apocalyptic world of checkpoints and terrorist attacks felt lived-in by the characters and well-developed. As someone familiar with the story sources she was drawing on, I felt she did a good job of updating the legends while adhering closely to the original material. Those who haven’t read the Iliad, Odyssey, or Aeneid, might not get as big of a kick out of it.
(I don’t have a translation recommendation for the Aeneid, but I do recommend Fagles’s translations of Homer. He’s got a direct style that captures the action well, especially in the Iliad.)
Discord’s Apple was a fun modern fantasy. Those looking for something heavier on the romance might avoid Discord’s Apple, though there is a small love triangle. Discord’s Apple is a standalone novel, but if Vaugn wrote more in this universe I would read it.
Summary:When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she stands to inherit. Hidden behind the old basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. The magic of the storeroom prevents access to any who are not intended to use the items. But just because it has never been done does not mean it cannot be done.
And there are certainly those who will give anything to find a way in.
Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, protecting the past and the future even as the present unravels around them. Old heroes and notorious villains alike will rise to fight on her side or to undermine her most desperate gambits. At stake is the fate of the world, and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse. In the same month, along with this all-new hardcover, Tor will publish a new novel in Carrie Vaughn’s popular, New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series featuring werewolf talk radio host, Kitty Norville. Kitty Goes to War will be the eighth book in this successful mass market series.Read an excerpt here. (Follow site directions.)