A Touch of Darkness Summary and Study Guide

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A Touch of Darkness is the first novel in the Hades X Persephone Saga written by Scarlett St. Clair. The novel follows young Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, as she poses as a mortal and becomes entangled with Hades, the God of the Underworld. As their relationship blooms, Persephone challenges her preconceived notions of power, love, and worship. Other books in the series include A Touch of Ruin, A Touch of Malice, and the 2023 volume A Touch of Chaos.

St. Clair is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation. She holds a master’s degree in library science and information science and a bachelor’s degree in English writing, both from the University of Oklahoma. Her background in literary studies fuels her reimagining of Greek myths. A Touch of Darkness was originally published on May 23, 2019.

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This guide uses the Bloom Books Reprint Edition, reprinted in September 2021.

Content Warning: This novel contains depictions of sexual assault and non-consensual drugging. There are also references to substance abuse.

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Plot Summary

Persephone, Goddess of Spring, has been without magical powers her entire life. She poses as a mortal woman; she attends college to study journalism and is about to start an internship at the illustrious New Athens News. Her best friend, Lexa, convinces her to visit Nevernight, a casino and nightclub owned by Hades; at the club, they encounter Adonis, Sibyl, and other mortals who become their friends. Persephone becomes separated from Lexa and enters a private gambling den, where an attractive stranger teaches her poker. She soon realizes that he is Hades himself. Hades is well-known for making impossible bargains with mortals, so Persephone leaves in fear and frustration. At home, she notices a mark on her wrist where Hades touched her.

Persephone goes to her internship, where her editor gives her creative freedom. She discovers that Adonis is a senior reporter. She then goes to Nevernight and demands an audience with Hades, who tells her that because she gambled with him and lost, she must now fulfill a contract with him. He demands that she create life in the Underworld. She reveals her powerlessness before returning home. Later, her mother, Demeter, questions her about having gone to Nevernight, but Persephone hides the truth. She decides to write an article about Hades and his contracts. After a brief confrontation in front of Adonis, Hades commands her to return that night and get a tour of the Underworld. She returns to the club that evening but, in her impatience, stumbles into the Underworld without Hades’s supervision. There, corpses attack her until Hermes intervenes. Hades arrives, tends to Persephone’s wounds, and kisses her to give her teleportation magic so she can enter the Underworld whenever she wants.

Persephone tries to plant seeds in an Underworld garden. She meets Hecate, Goddess of Magic, and sees Asphodel, where most souls are sent when they die. She and Hades play rock, paper, scissors and debate a man’s petition for his wife’s return. The next day, Persephone writes an impassioned first draft of an article, which Adonis reads without her permission. She and Hermes secretly watch Hades cure a woman’s daughter of cancer. Later, https://maudeofficial.com/ Persephone and Hades again debate the nature of his contracts. The next morning, she discovers that her article was published. She confronts Adonis about publishing it without her permission, but her editor asks her to write more articles about Hades. Lexa takes Persephone to another nightclub to celebrate; they again encounter Adonis and his friends. The two women dance and drink but ingest drugged cocktails without their knowledge. Adonis grabs Persephone and begins forcefully kissing her against her will, but Hades repels him and takes her to the Underworld to recover from the assault.

The next morning, Hades and Persephone argue about her new article. Hecate comforts her and challenges her to see Hades’s contract in a new light. Persephone’s editor gives her tickets to the Olympian Gala before Minthe arrives and gives her a clue for growing life in the Underworld. Persephone visits with the souls in Asphodel, who give her a crown. She and Hades share an intimate moment that is interrupted by Minthe. Several days later, Persephone and Lexa attend the Gala. Hades presents the Halcyon Project, an outreach program devoted to helping mortals who struggle with addiction. In his speech, he thanks Persephone for inspiring him. Aphrodite tries to corner her for a conversation, but Persephone escapes and starts to leave. Hades invites her to dance and then invites her back to the Underworld. There, the two consummate their relationship.

The next morning, Persephone feels her magic for the first time but is unable to find its source. With Hades’s permission, Persephone travels to Elysium with the god Thanatos. He reveals that Hades’s bargains are actually attempts to make deals with the Fates, and all the souls who fail their contracts are sent to Elysium to recover and eventually reincarnate. Persephone trains with Hecate to master her magic and plans a ball with some of the Asphodel souls. At her internship, she fights with Adonis, who is fired for his misbehavior. Several weeks later, she receives a threatening email from Adonis with incriminating photographs of herself and Hades. She tries to ignore the threat and enjoys a date night with Hades, which culminates in her mother’s intruding on them and discovering their contract. The next day, Persephone arrives at work to find Aphrodite waiting for her. Aphrodite reveals that she and Hades had a bet as to whether he could make someone fall in love with him within six months. Heartbroken at having been used, Persephone leaves for the Underworld to find the Well of Reincarnation, hoping to complete her contract.

At the well, a soul that is chained to a pillar as punishment attacks her. Hades rescues her, and the two fight about his bet with Aphrodite. Persephone confesses that she loves him, but when he does not reciprocate, she summons vines to capture him, fulfilling the terms of her contract. She returns to the mortal realm, where she has Lexa’s boyfriend hack Adonis’s devices and delete the pictures of her and Hades. She confronts Adonis and Minthe, the person who supplied the photos, turning Minthe into a mint plant. She then travels and confronts her mother for withholding worshippers and, thus, preventing her magic from manifesting. Demeter refuses to accept Persephone as an adult and a goddess, causing a rift in their relationship.

Persephone graduates and works full time at New Athens News. She is eventually visited by Hecate, who asks her to return to the Underworld. Hades waits for Persephone, and the two have an emotional reconciliation after sharing words of love. Persephone gives him the mint plant, which they place in the Underworld gardens. Hades gives Persephone a private grove to practice her magic.

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