So I’ve finally decided that it is my solemn moral obligation to provide a Goodreads book review (to be cross-posted here) for one of my Kindle First books each month. These are oftentimes new authors, diamonds in the rough (not always, but sometimes), and I figured they’re owed a review for flinging themselves out there to the voracious horde of Kindle First readers.
If you’re wondering about Kindle First, check out the details here first, but bottom line it’s a free book (and sometimes two!) each month, before it goes on sale to the general public.
If you’d prefer to read my review with spoiler tags firmly in place, clickity here, and feel free to friend me on Goodreads! Activity around here has been sluggish over the winter for a variety of reasons, but as my wise oracle/amazing eyebrow wizard said this morning as he worked me over…2015 is going to be a good year. We just know it.
Kate’s complete review WITH SPOILERS of Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella below the jump!!! Did you read it too? Let me know in the comments!!!
I received this book through the Kindle First program, and I will say straight off the bat that only one single thing kept me from rating it five stars: the abrupt cliffhanger ending. From the good solid length, the slow and steady buildup throughout knowing that doom is inevitable, already knowing where Helen inevitably ends up…to have it end so obviously pointing toward a sequel for resolution, it completely knocked off a star for me. Had the author kept the entire story together in one cohesive and satisfying (and yes, long) episode of storytelling, I would have absolutely rated it five stars. Stop with the MUST BUY SEQUEL TO FIND OUT RESOLUTION! please, authors. Trust that your talent will lead readers to buy more of your books when you provide them with a complete story in a promotion. I absolutely would have. I’d compare this story to Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (which I mean as a sincere compliment, I know some people hated it but I wasn’t one of them) in how completely I was loving it…until I ran into a brick wall at the end of the book, NOT the end of Helen’s story. My yowl of NOOOOOO! sent the dog running. Okay, rant over.
What I did love: the storytelling itself was nearly flawless, I give the author kudos for making a well-known mythological tale (or really, how well known IS it??) her very own, with no apologies. She took it and created her own world around a character, and I loved it.
Yes, there were some stretches here and there for the purpose of entertainment but, again, the author owned it and so I had no problem with this. She somehow made it not only realistic but also matter-of-fact that the gods of Olympus did come to earth occasionally and meddle at their whim (Helen’s sardonic thoughts about her mother’s rape by a swan had me laughing out loud), sometimes even to demanding the death of innocents.
I did feel I lost touch emotionally a bit with Helen during her pregnancy and subsequent brutal loss of her daughter, that was a LOT for her (and us) to deal with, and maybe a little more time could have been spent making us feel her grief along with her. The back-and-forth POV was a little jarring at times, but it didn’t throw me out completely like so many narratives that employ it do.
I’ll confess I did devour the entire book in a day and a half, but I didn’t catch any editing or painful grammatical errors (THANK YOU to her beta and editor!) for which I was grateful.
In reference to my quibble above, I’ll just say this to the author: you have stunning talent. I loved your book. Trust yourself to sell an entire story on its own merit, lots of them, because this one convinced me you could, and will.
(As a heads-up to readers, my Kindle Fire booted me out of the book and into the OKAY TIME TO RATE AND MAYBE BUY SOME RELATED BOOKS! as soon as the Acknowledgements came up. The author thoughtfully included several appendices after this which history/mythology lovers such as myself will appreciate, make sure you hop back in to check them out!)