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QUIVER by Stephanie Spinner

QUIVER

By Stephanie Spinner

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-81489-2
Publisher: Knopf

Spinner (Expiration Date: Never, 2001, etc.) hops aboard the mythological bandwagon, turning the tale of Atalanta into a teenager’s coming-of-age. Having been saved by Artemis after her father abandoned her as a newborn, Atalanta has dedicated herself to the goddess’s service by taking a vow of chastity—a vow which comes back to haunt her when her father demands that she marry, and present him with an heir forthwith. Having already seen the entire royal line of Calydon ruthlessly exterminated for failing to sacrifice to Artemis, Atalanta is in a bind—so she presents her father with what she hopes are impossible conditions: suitors must race her, and must die if—when—she wins. Atalanta reckons not on the gods, however, who show up in snatches of dialogue between chapters to comment (“Artemis: ‘ . . . the hunt is far from over.’ Apollo: ‘You frighten me sometimes.’ Artemis: ‘I’m your older sister. I probably should.’ ”), place wagers, and interfere. Nonetheless, despite Aphrodite’s help in the climactic race (golden apples, an arrow from Eros’s bow), handsome Hippomenes wins only because Atalanta lets him. Proud, strong, strong-minded, and naïve (though rather less so by the end), Atalanta cuts a figure at once heroic and human. Spinner sticks closely to classical sources, rounding out her rendition with a lesser-known episode in which the randy newlyweds fall afoul of Zeus, and are changed into lions. Brutal in spots, but lighter than the psychodramas Donna Jo Napoli and others are fond of crafting from the old tales. (afterword) (Fiction. 12-15)