Monday, March 24, 2008

Lost in the Labyrinth by Patrice Kindl

Book one of the Once Upon a Time II challenge

Lost in the Labyrinth is the retelling of the Greek myth of Asterius (the Minotaur) and Theseus. Kindl does a great job of setting up ancient Greece for us - the political intrigue, the lavishness of the palace, the relationship between the people and the Gods. We follow the story through the character of Xenodice, one of the daughters of the queen - an interesting point of view, since she a very minor part in a story of betrayals, murder and escapes, with several well-known Greeks (namely, Daedalus and Icarus). Not much actually happens to her, but we watch the action that happens around her.

This book is a great first taste of mythology for young adults. You really get the sense that the lives of humans and the gods were intertwined with the kings and queens that ruled over them. The author makes a point of reminding you who the different characters are in the grand story (although, after a while it got a tiny bit annoying). The Minotaur was an unusual character (half human half bull) and Xenodice's relationship with him defined her personality in a way, setting her apart in her family as the one person who didn't view him as a freak. Kindl lets us know of all these bizarre matings and illegitimate children without ever getting graphic, which I appreciated.

I only have two complaints about the book. I thought Xenodice's voice was a bit...old. She was supposed to be 14 but sometimes I felt like Kindl's efforts to make her sound royal just made her sound frumpy. And secondly, (possible spoiler here if you don't know your mythology), despite Xenodice's absolute young-love infatuation with Icarus throughout the entire book, when he finally flies into the sun - it's just noted in passing! After the wax melts off his wings and he drops into the sea, she says she's glad it's a cleaner death than crashing into the earth. Come on! She says she'll never marry anyone if she can't marry him and she doesn't shed a tear? When the story moved right on into the next scene I looked back twice to make sure I hadn't missed something. It just caught me completely off guard.

Those two complaints, though, shouldn't stop you from trying this book - it was a unique read, well suited for young adults.

5 comments:

DesLily said...

hmm, well, I have looked into this book before.. and now I will look into it again! lol.. I knew this would happen !! Now I have to see if it's part of a series (groaning here.. they almost always are! lol)

Carl V. said...

You've certainly gotten me interested and I love the cover on this as well. That just sucks you right in.

Nymeth said...

I love Greek Mythology, and this, despite some flaws, sounds like a very interesting retelling.

Debi said...

The wish list continues to grow and grow and grow...

Thanks for the wonderful review!

Anonymous said...

If you like novels with an element of myth in them, may I suggest another title to look at? "Outcasts of Skagaray" by Andrew Clarke has elements of Orkney and Norse myth, and tells the story of a group of young people rejected by their society because they will not take part in its cruelty. Set in a fictitious world, therefore fantasy, but dealing with real life issues. For sample chapters see www.threeswans.com.au

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