Minotaur, by J.A. Rock
Publisher: Riptide Publishing (October 19, 2015)
Page Count: 277
Genre: Lesbian (F/F) Urban Fantasy/Historical, Young Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5
* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
Know this: I am not a warrior. I am a disease.
“Minotaur” was most definitely not what I was expecting, but in the best way possible! Instead of the young adult adventure story that I was expecting based on the summary, I found myself completely absorbed by a spellbinding tale of monsters, redemption, and love.
When I was six, my parents died.
When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.
Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am.
There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.
But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.
Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.
And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.
Told from the point of view of Thera, a sixteen year old orphan, “Minotaur” weaves mythology and the real world together in the small town of Rock Hill, which is still recovering from a monster attack years before. Thera is the first to admit that she’s more villain than hero, with substance abuse and authority problems a mile long, but through her eyes we see that good and evil aren’t as clearly defined as people want to believe.
I loved every single thing about Thera’s character. On the surface she’s frustrating, selfish, and disrespectful, but she has reasons for acting the way she does, and a brilliant mind behind the misbehavior. She’s an unreliable narrator, so I felt like I had to read beneath the surface to really understand her.
And secretly, I liked redemption. I liked monsters who regretted and heroes who mustered a revolted sort of compassion for their enemies. Even better were the heroes who saw villains as a mirror– not one that reflected the world precisely as it was, but one that showed the hero what she might become. (Kindle Loc. 69)
The relationship between Thera and Alle was beautiful. The two young women are scared and uncertain, but I liked watching them discover each other in the darkness each night, and getting to see their relationship grow. It’s not a passionate, fiery romance by any means, but instead two girls discovering what love is.
I will admit that I was confused by Thera’s encounter with the Minotaur. The story of the monster is told in bits and pieces throughout the novel, and Thera finds herself dreaming of killing the beast and redeeming herself… a way to prove that she’s not as damaged as others think she is. But when she actually enters the labyrinth and meets the Minotaur, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.
There’s a lot of mythology and philosophy here, and while I found the novel captivating and the language gorgeous, I still couldn’t quite grasp all of the subtleties. But in the end, this isn’t a novel about a hero slaying a magical beast; it’s a story about a young woman finding herself, and finding a way to forgive herself.
Very enjoyable, but I do think the summary is a bit misleading!
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