Monday, November 07, 2011

Review: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Book Description from the ARC:

ARC, 309 pages
September 19, 2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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 bring 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…

Source: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Ariadne was She-Who-Will-be-Goddess of Krete. As the girl next in line, she underwent training everyday. But it wasn’t as exciting as it sounds. The day she became She-Who-Will-be-Goddess was the day that everything changed for Ariadne. She lost her friends and lost the normalcy of her life. No one really looked and talked to her anymore. She felt distanced from humanity. She was filled with nostalgia, longing and sadness but none of those things weakened her dedication to the Goddess. I loved reading about Ariadne’s life as a priestess. For once, I was glad this was not a story about a hero or a god/goddess. The shift of joyous childhood to strict, arduous womanhood for Ariadne was sudden. The change couldn’t be undone and it saddened me to know of Ariadne’s loneliness, worry and constant concern for her mother and brother.

The customs of Crete were different, so different that the Athenian newcomers thought they were barbaric. But when it came to the Goddess, the Kretans would do anything to please Her. Every year, the Planting Festival takes place. She-Who-is-Goddess offers her body and lets the Moon Goddess inhabit her for three days. Then, as Goddess, she chooses a man – who Velchanos aka Zeus chose to inhabit – to be her consort. Then things get bloody, after three days, the man’s blood will be spilled on the fields. The mythology that Barrett spun was stunning and bizarre. It was one of the most unforgettable ones that I’ve ever encountered.

The life of Theseus was quite the dramatic kind. He was the son of the king of Athens with a poor but lovely girl from a faraway place. As a child, he grew up to be constantly bullied until his teen years. He ventured to Athens to meet his father only to be startled with a shocking decision. Through his share of narration, I’ve come to know how the weak, bullied boy became a man capable of standing his ground.

Asterion, Ariadne’s brother, was unfortunate when it came to the looks department. He was ugly, misshapen. But he had the innocence and the mind of a little boy. He was also He-Who-Will-be-Minos, the guy next in line to take the powers and responsibilities of the Minos. He was capable of assuming the role as he was capable of keeping his toys whole. He lovingly called Ariadne as “Adne” – the only person in Krete who cared to spend time with him, give him honey and other treats and tell him stories. My heart softened for Asterion. The pages with him in them were colorful, always interesting despite the probability of things turning messy.

But with a bunch of newcomers who labeled the important rituals of Krete as barbaric, a handful of doubts and nerves and too many deaths, could the Planting Festival be done according to plan? Or would somebody ruin it?

Dark of the Moon is an interesting, startling tale wrapped in mystery, rituals and uncertainty. This twisted tale of inheritance will surprise and satisfy readers with drama, bloodletting and twists and turns. I recommend this to Greek-myth readers.



  1. recommended to greek myth readers? Well I think I know what this means...(*scampers off to goodreads and adds it to TBR pile!*)

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  2. The moment I heard of this, I was so so intrigued by the story. You know I love seeing the twists authors put on greek myths! It sounds intense and quote a unique novel compared to what's currently on the YA market, I can't wait to read this. Fantastic review!!