Title: Dark of the Moon
Author: Tracy Barrett
Publication Date: September, 2011
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Borrowed from my library
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 . . .
"It isn't true what they say about my brother - that he ate those children. He never did; he didn't even mean to hurt them. He wept as he held out their broken bodies, his soft brown eyes pleading with me to fix them, the way I always fixed his dolls and toys."
In a Sentence
Dark of the Moon was an extremely creative retelling of the story of Ariadne, but I would have liked to see a little more character development with Theseus.
I've always been fascinated by Greek mythology, so Dark of the Moon landed a spot on my to-read list almost immediately after I first heard of it. When I saw it was one of the longlisted titles for the 2012 YA Bloggers Book Battle, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to finally pick up the book. And while I didn't absolutely love Dark of the Moon, it's one of those books that I'm really glad I read, if that makes sense.
Dark of the Moon made me think a lot while reading it. Learning about Ariadne's world...seeing her experience a clash of two cultures and the crumbling of the ancient society and traditions that she had been raised in...well, it made me think a lot about how relevant that theme is to any time period - about how the world is always changing, and how hard it can be for people to accept that change. So while I think that Dark of the Moon had some flaws (which I will elaborate on later), I also really appreciated the book for its tendency to stir up these kind of thoughts in me.
Furthermore, I think that Barrett did a wonderful job combining her research with a well-structured, cohesive plot. For those of you who know the traditional tale of Ariadne and Theseus, this book will make you look at that story in an entirely different way. Dark of the Moon adds a good amount of complexity to the original tale, which to me, made this re-imagining a quick and enjoyable read. The characters made famous by Greek mythology - Ariadne, Theseus, the Minotaur - all take on roles that are familiar to students of mythology, but there are enough changes to make you feel as if you're reading this story for the very first time. For example, the Minotaur, which has always been characterized as a horrible monster in mythological lore, is a much more sympathetic, if flawed being. And Theseus isn't quite the hero that legend made him out to be. In fact, many of his heroic deeds were actually stories invented by him in order to impress his father.
Though Dark of the Moon is told in alternating points of view between Ariadne and Theseus, I was definitely more interested in Ariadne's side of the story. Though Ariadne is young, she's had to face some difficult things in her life. She is the heir to the role of "Goddess," and can't be touched by any other males other than family on pain of death. Other girls who could be friends grow silent and afraid in her presence because she is more than royalty. She is divinity. Everyone who she was friends with as a child now fears her, and therefore, Ariadne has no true friends. Theseus is able to identify with Ariadne because he too was once set apart from everyone else. In the village in which he was raised, Theseus's mother claimed that his father was the sea god Poseidon, which subjected Theseus to the scorn and bullying of the other villagers.
However, I wasn't the biggest fan of Theseus. While I didn't exactly dislike him, I often found myself bored by his side of the story. There was just nothing that stuck out about him to me. And maybe that was the author's intent...to take an incredibly famous mythological hero and turn him into an ordinary man with ordinary whims and fears. But even if that was the intent, it ended up negatively affecting my reading experience. Theseus narrates a good portion of the story, and as I've said in other reviews, when you can't connect with the person who's telling the story, I find it difficult to connect with the story.
Still, I did enjoy the story overall - especially when it focused on Ariadne. I would definitely recommend Dark of the Moon to fans of mythology because, while it might not end up being the best book you've ever read, I think that, if you like mythology, you'll be able to appreciate the amount of research and creativity that went into this book!