Sweet takes Greek mythology as her inspiration, and blends and reinterprets classic elements into her own fantasy tale.
I appreciated the two main conceits of the book:
First, the two main characters, rather than being the ‘special’ ones with unusual powers, are actually the only two developed characters who do not have powers and are just ordinary.
Second, the main viewpoint character is the ‘bad guy’ rather than the hero.
Both of these are not at all what is usually seen in fiction for young people, and were quite refreshing.
Unfortunately, ultimately, the book as a whole didn’t work for me. The author kept teasing me with a dark, mythological feel, but then the tone would slip into a more contemporary-YA thing that reminded me of ‘Percy Jackson.’ The fact that we’re dealing with teens who’ve inherited powers from, or may be the children of, Greek gods, adds to that. Now, I don’t care for Riordan’s writing; many many people do – so your mileage may vary.
However, my main issue with the book is that I found Ariadne’s character unconvincing. She is consumed with jealousy & resentment and filled with a drive toward vindictive, destructive actions… but why? There’s a nod given toward her not living up to her mother’s dreams; the old chestnut about wanting to be daddy’s favorite girl. Of course, a certain amount of jealousy of an older sibling toward a younger might be normal – but what’s shown here goes way beyond normal (it’s murderous!), and I wanted to be given reasons to buy it. I didn’t find those reasons. While I don’t judge the quality of a book on the likability of its characters, it’s still worth a mention that Ariadne is a thoroughly nasty person to have to spend any amount of time with.
In contrast, the slave Chara, who works against Ariadne’s plots, is thoroughly wonderful. Clever, generous, loyal, accepting all indignities with equanimity… she’s just too perfect.
My other issue was simply that: this is a retelling of the story of the Minotaur. Icarus is also a major character. I feel like the book is aimed at readers already familiar with the associated myths. Therefore, we anticipate the inevitability of certain outcomes. And… we don’t get them. The book ends abruptly, with an appended ‘teaser’ chapter for the sequel. I don’t always hate a setup for a sequel… but I just didn’t feel that the ‘shape’ of the story arc here felt complete.
A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley for review. As always, my opinions are solely my own.