Labyrinth of Shadows - A Book Review

One of my goals this year is to actually read all of the Fellowship of Fantasy book club books this year. Which, by the way, if you are one of my fantasy readers and you haven't joined yet, do so now! Great books, opportunities to chat with wonderful indie authors, giveaways, parties, and lots of fun await you there. Anyway, back to the blog. Last year I did pitifully, completing only two of the books, even though the majority had already been on my to be read pile. Embarrassing? Yeah, pretty much. Especially since we all know I love a good fantasy. But, I figure if I tell you now in January that I'm going to start regularly blogging about the books I read, that ought to hold me at least a little accountable. And don't worry, romance fans, I'll be reading and reviewing lots of romances this year too.

Labyrinth of Shadows
So without further ado, my first book of the year is Labyrinth of Shadows by Kyla Stone.

Oh. My. Goodness! If you like Greek mythology, you need this book. Just trust me, you need it!

The story of Thesius and the Minotaur is one that many of us are familiar with. If you're not, here's a quick recap:

Thesius, the demigod son of Poseidon, was raised away from home until he was strong enough to return to his mortal father's palace. Upon his arrival, he proves his identity and learns that the people of Athens have been sending their most beautiful young men and women as tribute sacrifices to the wicked King Minos. Thesius swears to put an end to the bloodshed by going as tribute to slay the Minotaur. The princess Ariadne falls in love with him and gives him the key to escaping the Labyrinth on the condition that he takes her to Athens to become his queen. Thesius, of course, succeeds in his quest. He saves all the tributes, helps them escape, and even remembers to take Ariadne along. At least, until he reaches a tiny island where the jerk leaves Ariadne heartbroken.

But what if that's just the story Thesius wants us to believe? And what if Ariadne had a larger role in the story than we realized?

These are the questions Kyla Stone explores in her retelling of the classic myth. Instead of the pampered princess we imagine when we read the myth, Ariadne is a bull dancer training to become a priestess. Her people believe her to be cursed because of her relation to the Minotaur. King Minos isn't exactly likable in the original myth, but in Stone's version he is even more despicable. And Thesius isn't quite the noble hero we thought. In fact, I will admit that for a good portion of the book, I really wanted to see him bite the dust.

The story begins with Ariadne training for the feast held before the tributes are sent to the Labyrinth. When Ariadne's best friend is gravely injured saving her life, she goes to her mother for help, knowing that Queen Pasiphae has ways to save her. But the cure doesn't come for free. In exchange, Ariadne must swear to kill Thesius, in order to save her half brother. While Ariadne agrees, this will mean gaining the trust of the Athenian tributes, including Thesius, and staying alive in the Labyrinth long enough to carry out her mission. That won't be easy, especially when Ariadne discovers she's not the only one with a hidden agenda. It will take all her wit and training to survive the Labyrinth and discover the true way to save her half-brother.

As far as content, this is not a book I would recommend for young readers. While there is no foul language to my memory, there are several mature themes including abuse, human sacrifice, and a couple references to rape. Between the Minotaur and other monsters included in the story, there is violence, though it is not overly graphic or gory. Unlike the original myth, not all of the tributes make it home and there are a few on-screen deaths. Sexual innuendo is limited to brief references and a few kiss scenes. This definitely falls within the young adult realm and is best suited for readers thirteen and older.

Overall, I loved Labyrinth of Shadows. In fact, I read it start to finish within about six hours. Once I started, I just could not put it down! The book is incredibly well-researched and written. The attention to detail, and multi-layered characters create a rich, vivid story which will hook you from page one. There's action, suspense, drama, romance, and while not a traditional happily ever after, the ending is satisfying and points to future happiness for the heroes and heroines of the story.

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