Kirkus Reviews QR Code
GODDESS OF YESTERDAY by Caroline B. Cooney Kirkus Star


by Caroline B. Cooney

Pub Date: June 11th, 2002
ISBN: 0-385-72945-6
Publisher: Delacorte

Anaxandra’s adventures begin as a small child, when she is taken hostage from her father, the king of a tiny unnamed island in the Aegean Sea. She becomes the companion of the crippled princess Callisto of Siphnos. When that island is sacked, Anaxandra alone is left alive and she pretends to be Callisto in the eyes of Menelaus, who takes her back to Sparta. It is there that the girl, now 12, accomplished with a slingshot, and resourceful in many ways, meets Menelaus’s queen, Helen. In Cooney’s telling, Helen is an exquisite monster: so beautiful that people die for her; but cold, careless, and utterly self-involved. When the besotted Trojan prince Paris takes Helen off to Troy, Anaxandra assumes another identity, to protect her own life and that of Helen’s youngest child. The gods and goddesses are very real to Anaxandra, whose prayers and beseeching are answered only occasionally. The full horrors of war and the brutality of even the noblest of lives in ancient Greece (although the land now known as Greece was many independent principalities then) are related in Anaxandra’s perceptive voice, in a heightened language that seems natural for her. Characters from the Iliad, the Odyssey, and much of Greek tragedy make appearances in Anaxandra’s tale, one that is as vivid as her red-gold hair. Teen readers will be mesmerized. (afterword) (Fiction. 12+)