Title: Dark of the Moon
Author: Tracy Barrett
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 20th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN-10: 0547581327 (Harcourt Children’s Books)
ISBN-13: 978-0547581323 (Harcourt Children’s Books)
Reviewed by: Emmy
Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that “monster” is Ariadne’s brother . . .
Quick & Dirty: Good story for people who like mythology! This novel retells Theseus’s myth in a way that’s historically plausible, and brings the ancient world of Krete alive to do it.
Opening Sentence: It isn’t true what they say about my brother–that he ate those children.
Barrett’s novel weaves a more realistic, historically plausible tale of the Minotaur, she wrote it well and grounded everything in an ancient context. As an obsessive mythology nerd, I appreciate the accuracy. Through the book, though mostly concentrated toward the end she took the time to explain how these characters developed into those found in classical mythology. Despite this, and the interest I had when picking up the book, I was a little underwhelmed in the end.
Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the most well know classics. But things have changed rather drastically in Barrett’s version. For example, the reason Theseus is sent to Krete as a tribute is not for his heroism, but because the Minos (King of Krete) said if the Athenians included the son of their king he would not ask them for more tributes. Ariadne is She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, who’s only true friend is her mother, the current Goddess. The book is divided between Theseus and Ariadne’s perspectives, but I thought Theseus’s was way more interesting. I really didn’t find myself very invested in the Goddess subplot, so Ariadne wasn’t intriguing to me. The only other person in the palace who isn’t afraid to touch her is her half-brother–poor, deformed Asterion, who’s trapped beneath the palace because of his unintentionally violent tendencies.
That being said, it means the majority of people who want to read this book will be able to tell what happens next, even if some of the end results are different. I didn’t necessarily think of this predictability as a problem because I spent most of the book wondering how she was going to spin it. However, I do have a hard time reading a story where I know what’s going to happen, and so it took me a while to read–but someone who hasn’t studied mythology might not find this as much of a problem. The plot picks up significantly in the second half of the story–as does the violence. Unfortunately, the violence doesn’t really get any suspenseful build up, so when it occurred I didn’t really think much of it. Barrett works hard to turn Theseus into an non-hero, a regular guy (well, a prince, but otherwise a normal guy) and while that made him a more complicated character I think it robbed him of some serious potential.
My biggest peeve about this book was how confusing the perspective switches were. Barrett switches from Ariadne to Theseus every chapter–but where as Theseus is telling his myth-creation story in present tense, Ariadne is in past tense. When I did get into the story and didn’t notice the chapter break, it completely pulled me out of the action. It was a fast-paced read though, and when I could get into it I was really into the story and 50 pages flew by. I know it sounds like I don’t like Dark of the Moon, but I did. I just didn’t like it as much as I expected I would.
“You are very noble.” She leans her head against my chest.
The guilt becomes even more painful. “Perhaps not as noble as you think.”
“Oh yes. To give your life for the Kretan people, when you are an outsider, that is a noble thing.”
I try to laugh, but my throat has closed. “I don’t plan to give my life for anybody.”
She pulls back and stares at me. “But that’s what you’re here for. That’s why there’s a Chosen One at the Planting Festival. He has to die for the people.”
It’s like she’s speaking a foreign language, one where I understand only one word in three. “What do you mean, ‘Die for the people’?” It must be some way of talking that they have here, some ritual where the king’s bloodletting is seen as a kind of death.
Ariadne looks down. “The Minos will open the pathway of your blood. Your blood will go on the fields, and the harvest will be good.”
“How much of my blood?”
“All of it.”
FTC Advisory: Harcourt Children’s Books provided me with a copy of Dark of the Moon. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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