Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that "monster" is Ariadne’s brother . . .
After reading the above summary, I couldn’t wait to read this book. The potential for twists and turns bubbles on the surface of the story, and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s rife with conflict from beginning to end, the pacing is spot on, and the characters so absorbing that I could not put this book down.
This is the perfect example of taking a well-known tale and turning it into something new, while still remaining true to the original roots. It’s clear the author knew the myth inside and out, as well as the religious practices at that time. She took the time period surrounding that myth and turned it into a plausible ‘what if it actually happened like this’ scenario. Brilliant.
I really liked the characters, too. Ariadne is both an historical figure and a typical teen trying to figure out who she really is. She doesn’t completely fit in, the way most teens feel, and finds solace where she can. Theseus isn’t quite as compelling, but he’s still interesting and sympathetic nonetheless. His reactions to Krete’s religious practices are believable and fitting. The explanation of the minotaur also fit, especially when you take the time period and ancient customs into account. I was completely caught up in their stories.
The only thing that gave me pause was the way in which it was told. We hear from both Ariadne and Theseus, which is fine, but the timelines don’t match. I would have preferred to see their stories unfold closer together. For example, we first get several chapters of Ariadne and how she meets Theseus, and then we jump back to months before Theseus is sent to Krete. That jarred me a bit, but I was able to get over and it read on with little impact on my enjoyment of the story.
Even though I knew the way the story would end, it still kept me on the edge of my seat. I especially liked how the author addressed the poetic vs. realistic slant on the way the story was passed down through the generations. It gives us lots of interesting things to think about.
If you want to read a myth that has been turned completely on its side, this is the story for you. If you’re looking for an exact rehash of Theseus and the Minotaur, then you should look elsewhere.
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