From McLaren (Inside the Walls of Troy, 1996, etc.), a riveting page-turner that once again brings a feminine perspective to a classical adventure: Odysseus’s journey as seen by his wife, Penelope; the witch, Circe; the goddess, Athena; and a trusted family servant, Eurycleia. The unique first-person narrative revives Homer’s ancient tale, making it newly believable and enjoyable to read. The tale begins with the meeting of Penelope and Odysseus and Penelope’s forthright desire to have him for her husband. Helen’s vanity is apparent in this version, and Circe’s disdain of all mortal men—because of a bad marriage—is explained. The goddess Athena acts as Odysseus’s guide, mentor, and protector. In the end comes the realization that not only did Odysseus make a journey, but so did Penelope, managing an estate for 20 years, raising a son on her own, and serving unruly guests without complaint; her commitment to Odysseus is continually tested by his delayed return, but she regains control in the end when she tricks the ultimate trickster (Odysseus) with her own test regarding the removal of the olive tree bed. Full of such twists and turns, this book shines new light on mythic figures and their voyages, and may send voracious readers back to the original. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82875-6

Page Count: 149

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000


The 12th book in the animated epic about the inhabitants and friends and enemies of Redwall Abbey, this is a grand, seafaring odyssey about Martin the mouse warrior and his treacherous return to the place of his youth. After the evil Vilu Daskar mercilessly massacred Luke’s wife and most of his tribe, Luke left his son Martin behind in order to avenge his wife’s death, never to return. With only the words of an old ballad to go on, an older and determined Martin, Trimp the hedgehog, and the mousethief, Gonff, set forth to battle weasels, water rats, aggressive crows, and tree vermin. Tricking the fox, Sholabar, into giving up his sea vessel, they locate half of the wreckage of Luke’s ship wedged between two monolithic boulders. Martin is reunited with four remaining shipmates who give him Luke’s journal; it outlines his capture by Vilu Daskar and plan to ram Vilu’s boat into the mammoth stones, thereby avenging his wife’s death and ridding the seas of Vilu’s treachery forever. Martin’s inner search and struggles with beasts of both land and sea will remind older readers of Homer, while also satisfying voracious fans of Jacques’s series. The formulas are gratifyingly intact as Martin discovers, as all fatherless children hope to, that his parent had not abandoned him, but heroically sacrificed his life for the welfare of others. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23490-X

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999


Despite the title, Hite’s latest is no sci-fi, futuristic effort, but a modern novel with a first-person narrative with echoes of such classics as Catcher in the Rye. Cecil lives in “historic” Bricksburg, a Virginia backwater made up of colorful eccentrics, where the biggest excitement is over who altered a local sign to read “Welcome to Hysteric Pricksburg.” Such vandalism is of felony proportions, and the leading suspect happens to be Cecil’s best friend, Isaac, who maintains his innocence as well as his cool. Throw in Cecil’s romantic struggle between the town’s fickle bombshell and the girl-next-door, Isaac’s younger sister, and this has all the makings of a conventional read; it transcends such labels with the addition of Hite’s keen sense of the absurd, Cecil’s mature, witty observations and his morose pronouncements about life on Earth. Cecil’s ongoing discourse on the problems of the universe grow trying, but readers will relate to—and laugh over—his simple struggle to find his way. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5055-8

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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