Book Reviews

Labyrinth by Alex Beecroft at Riptide Publishing

Genre Gay / Genderfluid / Historical / Fantasy / Ancient Europe / Mythological Creatures / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 21-November-2016

Book Blurb

Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.

Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?

The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.

It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.


Book Review

Wow! And not just for one reason. This novella grabbed my attention, made me think, and provided a delightfully different perspective on one of the most well-known Greek myths. At first glance, and on the surface of things, it looks like a historical accounting of events, much like a fictionalized piece of history. Looking a little deeper, there is also a deep cultural divide between the people of Crete and the newly arrived Greeks and this comes through particularly well because the story is told from the point of view of the inhabitants of Crete – the Minoans - not the Greek perspective we are more used to. But there is a third angle – provided by Kikeru – that is deeply personal, and adds a unique view of the world, the events that take place, and puts him and his inner conflict at the center of the unfolding drama. Needless to say, with so many enticing elements, I was not just entertained by the story itself, but by Kikeru’s journey from an uncertain young person to an adult who has found their place in the world.  

Kikeru is “the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete”, but that only gives the bare facts of how people in his time might see him. He was born male. Most people treat him as male, but he is not so sure that is all he is. In fact, he feels just as happy wearing female clothes. The culture of his time allows him to make a choice – he can decide to be a female and become a priestess, like his mother, but he’d have to accept castration. He can decide to continue to be a man, but he would be expected to get married to a woman and produce children. Kikeru is genderqueer, not a word or concept the ancient Greeks or Minoans were familiar with, and once I understood his issue, I felt deeply for him. It seemed as if there was no way out - until the author designed one that is faithful to the times Kikeru lived in and beautiful at the same time.

Rusa is a handsome, rather wealthy ship owner with a daughter who refuses to abide by society’s rules; she is pregnant but doesn’t want to get married. Rusa meets Kikeru, rescues him from some evil Greeks, and is utterly enchanted by Kikeru – in male and female form – and taken by his ingenious inventions. Rusa falls for Kikeru even knowing he is off limits, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and it ends up being Rusa’s daughter who comes up with the solution.
 
There are some Greek men who need to be taught a lesson, there is a war to avoid, and Kikeru and Rusa have some adventures to survive before they can live their lives in peace. I loved every moment of the tumultuous story, and loved seeing confirmation of my suspicions about which legend this book is about. Very well done!

If you like Greek mythology and legends – or want to learn more about them, if you enjoy reading about history in fictional form that allows long-past events and people to come to life and makes them feel “real”, and if you’re looking for an entertaining, suspenseful, thought-provoking read, then you will probably like this novella as much as I do. I loved it from beginning to end!

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Riptide Publishing for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 130 pages/35500 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 21-November-2016
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/labyrinth