Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

From Inside Jacket: 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 ...

My Rating: 4 hearts

Thoughts on the Novel: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett is a re-telling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. As a huge lover of Greek mythology and having taken Classics courses, I debated whether to read Dark of the Moon because I was a little worried about the Minotaur now becoming a boy with a childlike mind rather than the fearsome creature that’s part bull and part man from the original myth. Thankfully, Barrett’s version works and managed to pleasantly surprise me.

Dark of the Moon’s strength is in its impeccable world building. I really felt as if I had been transplanted to Crete and yet as a modern reader, the setting also retained an element of fantasy because of people’s belief in the divine realm. I’ll admit to feeling a little lost when I first started the novel, but things slowly became clearer once the Athenians arrived on Crete because you begin to see how the Athenian and Cretan religions differ (though there is some overlap). Also, I found it interesting that the Athenians held some false assumptions about Crete because they didn’t know much about the Cretans.

The story is told through the eyes of two narrators: Ariadne and Theseus. Since not much is known about Ariadne in the original myth other than that she helps Theseus kill the Minotaur and is abandoned by him on the island of Naxos where she later marries the god Dionysus, Barrett was free to do whatever she wanted with Ariadne. Thus, in Dark of the Moon, Ariadne becomes a regular girl who loves her older brother Asterion and is rather lonely because as She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, she commands a lot of respect and fear. It’s not surprising then that Ariadne delights in the company of Prokris and Theseus (who have their own plans for her).

Whereas you see the strength in Ariadne in that once things go wrong, she’s able to make fast decisions and isn’t afraid to do the hard thing; Theseus never really came into his own. His POV starts around the time that his mother tells him that his father left something for him under a boulder (but after Ariadne has already met him), so the transition to his story was abrupt and unexpected. Nevertheless, you soon experience his uneventful journey from Troizena to Athens and then onwards to Crete.

If you’re looking for a re-telling which incorporates Theseus having all sorts of adventures and fighting monsters, you won’t find it in Dark of the Moon. Rather, Barrett uses the well-known myths about Theseus – for example, he also encounters the Crommyonian sow and Procrustes in the book – to show how myths and legends develop and gain a life of their own.

A thoughtful, original and convincing re-telling, Dark of the Moon was released in September 2011 by Harcourt Children's Books. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s really hard to make out the shape of the Minotaur on the glossy cover. So, people might not realize that Dark of the Moon is based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. 

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Thomas Allen & Son) for free.


  1. I'm such a huge fan of Greek mythology, this is going to be a must read for me! I really like the sound of her interpretation of Ariadne and even though Theseus's POV wasn't quite as well done, it still seems like a fantastic read for mythology lovers. Thanks Zahida!

  2. Thanks for the review, Zahida! It's been awhile since I touched up on Theseus' adventures so I can't really recall exactly what he did, but it's interesting to see what kind of direction the author went with. I like how it seems Dark of the Moon goes deeper into Greek mythology than other YA novels have been lately...

  3. Sadly, I didn't know about this book, or the mythology behind it. This is one of the reasons I love having you around!

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. Mythology has always been a bit jarring for me because of the how many names and relations you have to keep up with, but I think I've got the gist of it from what you've described.

  4. I like Greek mythology too, though I'm probably more of a casual fan. So it was interesting reading your thoughts and explanation. It's also interested to see how the author chose to interpret it.

  5. OMG! my dear! I had no idea this was about Greek Mythology!! I've been missing good stuff!! hell! thansk for sharing! this one will be in my to-read list!!
    great review =D

  6. I'm reading Dark of the Moon right now. I'm at the beginning so nothing's really grabbed me yet but hopefully it'll get better since you seemed to have like it.

  7. I have been looking forward to reading this one. =) Glad you loved it!!

  8. It sounds like this is a much more serious and thoughtful retelling. I tend to want them action-focused, but I'm keeping this one in mind for when I want to take my time with a story. Thanks!


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