Thursday, June 9, 2016

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella: A Book Review

Helen of Sparta
Author: Amalia Carosella
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 402
Source:  This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review.
Synopsis: Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

     A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.


     My Review: Helen of Sparta focuses on the early years of Helen’s life before she ran away with Paris to Troy. Helen is the daughter of Zeus and Queen Leda of Sparta. She was raised to have a good marriage to a powerful royal prince and  be the Sparta’s next queen. Helen’s life changes when she begins to have dreams of the future that foretells a fatal war. These dreams frighten Helen, and she vows to change her fate. She soon meets Theseus, the king of Athens and a legendary hero. The two of them fall in love, and Helen goes with him to Athens. As Helen begins to settle into a happy life as Theseus’s queen, she soon realizes that she may have unleashed a chaos that dooms their love, their happy life, and destroy their city.

     One aspect that I like about Helen in this novel is that she is allowed to choose her own fate. In Greek mythology, the reader really does not understand who Helen is and why she chose her actions. In Helen of Sparta, the character is very easy to relate to. She is a woman who cares about the war that she may cause later in the future and wants to prevent the deaths of many. She decides to make choices of her own life rather than be controlled by others. There were some aspects that I did not like about Helen. Helen can be very impulsive and makes foolish mistakes. She is also very self-centered, which is why she did not foresee the consequences of her actions until they happened. Also, she still relies heavily on the men in the story to help solve her problems. Therefore, even though Helen vows to control her fate, she is still treated as a chess piece in the novel.

     Overall, this story is about love, loss, choices, and fate. This story is about a young girl who is trying to determine a life of her choosing when the odds are stacked against her. I did find the beginning to be very slow, and it is not until halfway through the story that Helen leaves Sparta to be with Theseus. I also did not like how the novel ended. There was no resolution to the story. It just abruptly ended. Nevertheless, the historical details of the third Bronze Age and Greek Mythology blended very well in this tale. I look forward to reading the sequel to finds out what happens to Helen. I recommend this book to those who are interested in Greek mythology, star-crossed lovers, and those who would like to know more about the woman whose face launched a thousand ships.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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