Author: Tracy Barrett
Publication: Harcourt Children's Books; None edition (September 20, 2011)
Description: 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 . . .
My Thoughts: This retelling of the myth of the Minotaur was a rich and thought-provoking read. It was also the story of two young people trying to find their place in the world. Ariadne is the daughter of She-Who-Is-Goddess and the next in line to be Goddess. She is learning from her mother both to be a midwife and to conduct the rituals of the Cretan religion. She is also alone and friendless because of the way a girl who will be goddess is revered and treated in their culture.
Theseus is a picked-on country kid whose mother has told him that he is the son of a Poseidon which does not endear him to the other children of the village. When he finally learns that his father is the current King of Athens, he leaves home to meet him.
Theseus arrives in Athens just in time to be sent by his father as part of the tribute that must be sent to Crete every ten years. Along with him is Prokris who is a scheming young lady and also a part of the tribute. She is determined to become queen in Crete and pulls Theseus into her schemes. His father is willing to sentence this unknown son to death at the hands of the minotaur.
The minotaur is actually Ariadne's brother Asterion who is physically and mentally handicapped. But, because he was born to be the next Minos, he wasn't killed at birth. Ariadne is the only one who spends time with him and soothe him. Otherwise, he is confined to a few rooms in the labyrinthian storage areas of the palace where he doesn't pose a danger to anyone.
This story takes place at a time of great cultural change in Crete. Ariadne's mother did something when she was a new goddess that seems to have called down the wrath of the goddess. Witness, Asterion being born as he is and some poor harvests and some loss of faith. The old ways are losing their power with a lot of the people. Contact with other cultures that don't believe the same thing have also served to wear away at people's faith. Ariadne isn't sure what to believe and, when her mother dies in childbirth before she is fully trained, she is compelled to take on a role that she isn't ready for.
Theseus is also floundering wondering what his role is. After meeting Asterion he knows that the minotaur is to be pitied more than feared. But he doesn't know what will happen to him. Returning to Athens and the father who essentially threw him away doesn't sound like a plan.
This was a fascinating story with well developed characters. People who enjoy mythology should really find it interesting.
"Before you were born," he answered. "There was that trouble at the Planting Festival a few years earlier, and then--"I received this ARC through the Amazon Vine program for review. You can get your copy there too.
"Trouble? What trouble?"
"Pasiphae hasn't told you?" I shook my head. "Then I mustn't. But you should ask her.""Does it have something to do with why Goddess is angry?"
He stroked my hair again and tucked a curl behind my ear. "It has everything to do with it." I waited for him to go on, but he was silent.