Ariadne weaves a new tale in a historically rich reworking of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Fifteen-year-old Ariadne leads a sheltered life in the Minos’ palace on Krete ("Minos" is title, not name). Per tradition, she trains to succeed her mother and become the Goddess incarnate responsible for continuing the family line and ensuring the island’s harvest. Saddled with obligations—and the unwieldy name of She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess—Ariadne soon encounters a boy who questions her beliefs and way of life. Trading off chapters with Ariadne, Theseus offers a glimpse of a wider but equally harsh world. Part of the Athenians’ tribute, Theseus has recently discovered his royal parentage, only to be sent to Krete as fodder for the fabled “Minotauros,” Ariadne’s simple-minded, deformed and bullishly strong brother, Asterion. Theseus’ fellow tribute, the beautiful and manipulative Prokris, also threatens to subvert the Goddess-led system and install a male monarch. Bucking the trend of torrid retellings, Barrett (King of Ithaka, 2010) focuses more on history than romance. Food, politics and clothing are described in ornate detail, and the formal language—if a bit stilted—lends the tale gravitas. While mythological characters appear in abundance—Medea makes a surprising cameo and gets an unexpected redemption—the gods are presented as religion rather than reality.
A world and story both excitingly alien and pleasingly familiar. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)