Title: By Helen's Hand - Helen of Sparta Series, Book 2
Author: Amalia Carosella
Publisher: 10 May 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Pages: 429 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, historical fiction, mythology
My Rating: 3.5 cups
With divine beauty comes dangerous power.
Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.
But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?
I read 'Helen of Sparta' by Amalia Carosella last year and loved it, and in this novel, find she has presented a worthy sequel to the events leading up to the Trojan War. It continues right where we left off, after Helen was returned to Sparta by her brothers. Therefore it would be advisable, for maximum enjoyment, to have read the first book.
It's difficult to review this book without revealing anything major, however, suffice to say, I have mixed feelings about By Helen's Hand. Without a doubt Carosella writes well, yet I found the first part of this book to be somewhat slow and repetitive as Helen is constantly missing Theseus, fearing Menelaus and ruing the curse of her beauty.
"I would not give up hope, for I was certain that so long as there was a breath in his body, Theseus would fight to reach me."
What is enjoyable about both books is the full cast of characters - mythology in abundance! Carosella brings to life some of the most famous figures of Greek history - there is a great array of interesting characters. Overall, this is a book about love, friendship, family and fate (in the hands of the Gods). I find it refreshing how Helen is portrayed as more than 'just a pretty face' - Carosella makes her very real and unique, someone who is struggling against her fate.
Personally, I also struggled with the ending of the novel because it seemed a little rushed, strange and not what I was expecting at all! I have to admit to feeling a little dissatisfied. I understand there are conflicting versions and it is mythology, but it just didn't sit right with me after all I had experienced through the two books.
Overall, however, I did like both books and think they are well worth a read for anyone interested in Ancient Greek mythology. They offer insight into what proceeds the Trojan War, providing real substance to the face 'launched a thousand ships', a portrayal of the woman who truly deserved to be known for more than just that.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.