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.
Helen of Sparta begins long before the infamous Trojan War, this novel details the supposed abduction of Helen by Theseus, King of Athens, with Helen as a willing participant.
Helen carries a heavy weigh on her shoulder. A princess to Sparta, but also a daughter of Zeus. Hated by her mother but also an heir to inherit the throne. Helen’s gifts from Zeus not only give her beauty but dreams that foresee the future. In a recurring nightmare, she envisions the Trojan war and the death of her family when she is married to a childhood friend. Determined to escape her fate, Helen makes plans to flee to Athens with King Theseus. Finally feeling freedom, the gods continue to punish Helen for her actions; however, Helen still continues to forge her own future.
Carosella offers a fresh take on Greek mythology from Helen’s point of view. I was captivated by the mix of historical fictions and mythology, along with Helen fiery determination to not be the damsel in distress. Helen’s world is brought to light with the power of the gods and the brutality of the history. Overall, Helen’s story is packed with well-developed emotions and an intense plot. With a somewhat abrupt ending, I am hoping there is a second one in the making.
However, while some characters are well written, some are very flat, and I find myself questioning the irrationality of some of their actions. For example, I struggled to understand why a princess was so often alone or wandering the palace unescorted especially when many men were lusting after her. More than once she is told off for it yet she keeps doing it. She has maids and servants, and there’s no reason she wouldn’t have one with her to see her back to her room.
Although I did feel sorry for Theseus, I didn’t find him inspiring. Theseus has little depth and serves only as a protector. The most prominent criticism I’m reading from other reviews is that the ending is a cliffhanger, but I didn’t feel this to be the case. The conclusion was supposed to show the reader why Helen later makes the choice she does, igniting the Trojan War. But a sequel would be excellent. [EDIT 29/01/2018: I’m a legit fool and didn’t realise there would be a sequel to this. ]
So there’s definitely some right elements to the story since I was compelled read to the end, and it’s well written, but unfortunately, some of the characters let it down.