Know this: I am not a warrior. I am a disease.
When I was six, my parents died.
When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.
Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am.
There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.
But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.
Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.
And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.
Dear J.A. Rock,
I have read some of your m/m books and I liked your writing quite a lot. I want to stress though that when I have read the blurb of this book, the main attraction of the story for me was the reworking of the Greek myth which I love. Greek mythology is one of the very few that I know quite well. I was certainly looking forward to lesbian romance storyline (where did I get that you ask? On Amazon – the book is categorized as lesbian romance amongst other things), but based on the mythical roots I fully expected certain amount of darkness in the story. After all those who read the myth know that even though the hero wins in the classical myth, he does not get the girl and his father commits suicide. Don’t worry, I did not just go ahead and revealed spoilers for this book. I am just saying that Minotaur story is not a fluffy one – after all the monster that killed people was involved. But the amount of darkness I got. Oh dear, I certainly did not expect that.
Before anybody asks, yes the publisher does not list this book as romance. In the last six months I think the only books I bought from Riptide was Alex Beecroft’s trilogy. I bought it from Amazon. I just do not get why the heck do I have to check the publisher’s website anytime I buy the book from them in order to make sure I won’t be surprised. The second part of the book (maybe last third, I am not sure) became horror movie with special effects for me. It was suspenseful and well written, but way too much for me. If you like those movies, you will probably enjoy this book way more than I did.
But the problems I had with this book started much earlier. First of all I had issues with characterization of the main character. Color me naïve, but before I have read the book, I thought that maybe her characterization of herself as a liar, addict and a thief in the blurb was a tiny bit exaggerated for dramatic effect as teenaged narrator could be prone to do. Now I can say that I did not think she was exaggerating at all. I thought that she was a liar, an addict and a thief. I suspect that the text would want me to pity her because she was probably abused or at least neglected. Well, it would have been nice if the narrative was a little bit more specific on that (do not get me wrong – there was one serious accident of the attempted sexual assault on her at her sister’s wedding by her sister’s nasty fiancé and I have very little doubt that he could have raped her and her aunt did not believe her that he was trying to grab the breasts of fourteen year old. But at the same time it was hard for me to extrapolate the pattern of her aunt’s behavior no matter how horrible that was).
What we heard was that her parents died at the age of six and when she was around sixteen her aunt delivered her to Rock Points Girls Home. You would think that awful things happen to these girls in the home. Eh, not so much. They could not leave till they are eighteen or till somebody else adopts them, that’s definitely awful, but most of the girls who arrive there as teens have all kinds of problems, inflicted by others or not. Most teachers seem to care, there is even psychological therapy provided. Thera arrived to the home being addicted to drugs as well because she kept stealing her aunt’s medications and taking them, and had to go through a painful withdrawal. All I am trying to say that while Rock Point girls may have been awfully lonely, and it may have been close enough equivalent of juvenile detention center, it was not described nearly as badly as awful boarding schools in some books. Basically same as I did not see enough clues in Thera’s past which may have contributed to her behavior, neither did I see any contributing factors in the place she was staying.
I frankly wanted to slap her several times. She was being generally awful to people around her, wanted to give people the reason to fear her, so she bullied younger girls with some of her pals. All till Allendara arrived to Rock Point. Then Thera wanted to be nice and actually was nicer because she wanted for Allendara (Alle) to notice her, to admire her and to love her.
I want to note something – when these girls were together, they had great chemistry. We have couple not explicit sex scenes between them and it was so beautiful. We are only in Thera’s POV, and it is clear how much she admired Alle and how much she wanted to be loved by her.
But let’s talk about the title of the book. Let’s talk about Minotaur. As I said in the beginning of my review, main reason why I purchased this book was because I was curious to see how the retelling/reworking of the myth would work in the modern times. Alas, it did not work for me. At all.
See, when you place myth in our times, for me magical and mundane needs to be woven tightly together or in other words, please do not give me reason to roll my eyes about monster terrorizing modern city (apparently the action takes place in 1930s, I thought it was later than that). I just could not suspend the disbelief at the people who after minotaur went on the reign of terror , decided to build a labyrinth to contain her instead of you know, call an army and destroy her. There needs to be something in the world which can help me believe in the existence of magic, magical creatures. There was a throwaway line or two about the possibility of the city having some magic, but there was absolutely no follow up about that and for me it just was not enough.
So, anyway if one can suspend the disbelief as to the myth of minotaur playing out in our times (not exact copy but very strong parallels, there was even a thread), one would have easier time accepting that what Thera really wanted (when she is changed I guess) is to be a warrior and to kill Minotaur. According to her she and Minotaur are connected and dream together.
And in the second half of the book she and couple of her friends enter Labyrinth and try to find Minotaur or Treasure or both. And as I said, I was reminded of horror movies, it was quite cinematic. And Thera and Minotaur’s close (VERY VERY close) connection with minotaur plays out in all its erotic details. Don’t ask! I kind of wanted to take a shower. Seriously I get it – hero being seduced by a monster (no matter what form it takes, but I supposed in this book it was bound take that form) is a common theme in many myths. I still wanted to take a shower.