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on February 25, 2012
How do I explain to you The Helens of Troy by Janine McCaw? I could say its Twilight without all the crap bits but then there'd be no Twilight so that's not exactly a very good comparison. One website I found did describe it as Gilmore Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I have to say this is much more on the money, although unlike the Gilmore Girls it doesn't make you want to scream in frustration through various points of high shrieking, poorly written plot lines.

Like the programme this book focuses upon the often turbulent relationships between three women, a grandmother, the mother and the teenaged daughter. As with Rory the teenager, Ellie, is a sometimes sullen young girl struggling to push against the barriers imposed upon her by her mother. She too appears to be older and wiser beyond the 15 years she has lived.

Unlike the Gilmore Girls however, it is the mother, Helen, who is the uptight woman who seems stuck in an age that has long since expired. Opposing her is the Grandmother, Helena, a rather eccentric `old' woman prone to wearing revealing clothing in full view of the neighbours and entertaining a certain Police Officer in her bedroom.

The novel begins with Helen and Ellie moving in with Helena (that's a mouthful) in a small town called Troy. Things quickly escalate with a dead body being found on the Grandmother's porch swing instead of the stuffed pieces of cloth being used to scare the trick-or-treaters.

Ellie doesn't seem at all fazed by the dead body (a little strange but hey she's probably grown up mowing things down on the Playstation), she is however ,slightly more scared the next morning after finding out her dream of a kidnapped young girl was actually a vision of the real event. A young girl has been taken from the town and no-one knows where she might be.

Clear panic ensues. But what Ellie isn't telling people is that she knows who took the child. She knows the culprit is not within the realms of mortal understanding. It is a Vampire.

Now stop groaning right now otherwise I'll put you in the naughty corner. Yes Vampires have recently been battered to death with the pen and paper of numerous writers (cough cough Meyer and Harris) and of course the money hungry corporate suits who wont be happy until they have bleed the Vampire species for all their non-existent blood. But this Vampire is different.

The Vampire inhabiting the pages of The Helen's of Troy is very much a Dracula, Barlow esq type character who embraces his Vampire roots and has given in to the evil that inhabits his veins.

This is not some brooding `feel sorry for me I'm a vampire' type ponce that has originated in recent years. This is a pure blooded daemon feasting upon children and seeking his revenge through whatever means necessary. And you know what? He's damn funny for a dead guy.

But not all is lost. You see the Helens have a secret of their own, it is a secret the grandmother has embraced, that the mother has denied and that the daughter has yet to discover. They are special the Helens. Very special indeed. And they are the only hope against the encroaching darkness.

This book was a pleasure to read. Not only is it a nice chance from the rest of the modern Vampire drivel I've read but its witty and almost every chapter has one sexual innuendo or another, I laughed so often when reading this book that I started getting embarrassed with all the other people on the bus staring at me. But you know what? I don't care. Every now and then you get a book that is so witty you can laugh at the same joke numerous times throughout the day. The jokes, the scenarios, the imagined looks on the characters faces keep screaming back into your mind throughout the day bringing a soft chuckle and a wide smile to your face. This is exactly what The Helens of Troy is. Yes there are a few grammatical and spelling mistakes that were missed during an edit but who bloody cares. I know what it's supposed to say and 9 times out of ten its something that will rock my world.

The speech is fluid and dynamic, the description vivid and engaging, the characters funny and lovable.

I already miss Ellie's ups and downs in making friends and falling for the local charmer. I loved old Helena and her inappropriate clothing and the mild mannered way in which she used her bosom to enthral the neighbour. And I even fell in love with Helen, she may be uptight, she may need a slap once in a while but she loves Ellie more than anything in the world and if there is one thing she can do to protect her daughter it is come to terms with the truth of who she is, and embrace it. To stop fighting the truth about what she and her family are and just go with the flow.

I loved this book and you can guarantee I will be reading it again before long. For a few days I can escape the boring monotony of the real world and once more fight alongside the Helens and get a few good laughs into the mix.

Go and grab your own copy of this book. You won't regret it.
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on January 30, 2012
Janine McCaw's newest novel, Helens-of-Troy, is populated by a wonderfully alive group of characters that you meet and come to care about within the first two pages. You'll meet a mother, her daughter and teen age granddaughter, all with the name Helen ( And, coincidentally, they live in a town called Troy.) I won't give away details of the plot, but the action is non-stop. The three women deal with their all-to-human inter-family struggles; and their story is beautifully interwoven with a much more esoteric one. You'll experience the angst of teenage relationships, meet some lost children and some very bad vampires. McCaw gives us witty, clever dialog on nearly every page and some good laughs when you least expect them. The many clues you're given throughout the book come together in a fast and furious climax.
I highly recommend The Helens to anyone who enjoys vampire sagas, the paranormal, or just a good story.
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on April 4, 2012
I really enjoyed this 32 chapter book. Since the author lives in Vancouver, if she ever sees Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki, please let each actor know I love them! I loved that there was a part in the story where Helena comments to her daughter that she should upgrade to Dean's car. I loved that the two adults watched Supernatural. You can't go wrong with that LOL.

My favorite scenes were 1) Ellie and Helen's trip to Troy in the van. Their conversation was hilarious. 2) Ryan and Ellie's walk home from the football game. 3) Tom's baby-sitting escapades before Stan gets snatched by the vampire. My favorite exchange:

* "You're sixteen. They'll toss you in the slammer."
* "I won't go to jail," Tom assured him. "Stop watching old movies so your vocabulary has a chance to meet this century. Okay."

In fact, the dialogue was very realistic and entertaining throughout the novel. Janine McCaw has a gift of keeping conversations going without it becoming boring page after page. I enjoyed the sarcasm, and readers get a sense of the characters' personalities by the way they talk and their body language. My favorite characters were Helena, Ellie, and Ryan. The author also has a wonderful talent of creating complex characters, therefore making them relatable and three-dimensional. It was cool to see them outside their comfort zone.

I laughed from beginning to end. The jail scenes were funny, especially when Ryan had to use the bathroom. The novel also had cute elements; it was adorable that Ryan (a teen) had a crush on Helena (a grandmother). And, it was so sweet that Mr. Wagner had a crush on Helena too. I felt bad that he died-it was eerie that he was the dead man on the porch for Halloween. Talk about trick-or-treat.

The format issues (no paragraph indentations, a tiny bit of head-hopping-no scene breaks) was worth getting past. It was refreshing to see all the characters working together to protect themselves instead of waiting for help. The poor police were hopeless LOL. The ending scene where the characters band together to save Ellie from Gaspar was awesome.

* I have to admit that even though Gaspar was the villain, I felt sorry for him. Being a Leo, I can relate to being misunderstood. All the answers were revealed at the end. I was surprised of all the twists! The clues throughout the beginning and middle were very subtle; it was a nice job of keeping the mystery going.

I enjoyed the cliffhanger. It promised something interesting will happen in England. I can't wait for the next book to find out!

I RECOMMEND this book to read.
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on April 26, 2016
Who should read Helens of Troy?

Anyone who loves -
Snarky, complex characters who can be sensitive, vulnerable, secretive and layered.
A great murder mystery.
Mysterious events, creatures and murders in a small town full of strange inhabitants.

Anyone who is tired of paranormal love triangles and the frustration, angst and heartbreak associated with it. Personally I feel a little sad for the person who was not chosen and irritated when the wrong choice is made. I'm glad this book skipped it.

When should you read it ?

After a long tiring day at work, school or just at home.
Its the perfect book for a weekend when you want to unwind and take a break.
When your chocolate stash is empty. ( Hope that doesn't happen to anyone )
After your favourite series has ended, making you wait for a year and you are clueless as to what you should do next.
You better be ALONE, because its going to make you smile, chuckle, laugh out loud and shake your head in wonder.

Why I loved it?
I'm a big fan of the paranormal genre so its difficult to surprise me. But this book managed to do that and more. The La Rose family was wicked and cool. You read about three generations of women without anyone sounding preachy, whiny or being a drama queen. This was a big plus for me.

The author managed to pull me in from the first page itself. Even though the book has multiple mini plots, it comes together beautifully without overwhelming the reader. The plot was woven tightly and the suspense kept me up all night.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review
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Helen Bocelli, along with her Goth daughter Ellie, packs up their stuff and heads back home to live with her mother, Helena, in a small town called Troy after leaving her husband. In addition, there is a great welcoming gift for the two - a dead body on the porch on Halloween Night. The site of the dead man does not spook Ellie, but she is more interested in the local boys who live nearby.

Ellie has a strange dream of a young girl and is shocked to learn the next day that a local girl is missing. Ellie is not like other teenage girls as she knows what goes bump in the night, and in this case, it is a bloodsucking vampire.

When I read that this book was Gilmore Girls meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had to review it as I have been watching the Gilmore reruns and I grew up watching Buffy. The three female characters are completely different from the Gilmores, but the quirky fast-paced dialogue is similar. The grandmother Helena is like no grandma I have every seen. She dresses and acts like a woman thirty years younger than her. I thought it was funny how the teenager Ryan was after her. The mother Helen has almost given up on her life and finding love. Now Ellie does remind of Rory Gilmore, except she dresses in Goth and has some supernatural elements to her. Ellie is smart, speaks her mind, and is more mature than most teenagers are.

There is a killer lose in the town of Troy, and Ellie can sense that it is a vampire, but who would believe her. With the overuse of vampires in the media, I was somewhat put back by this idea, but as I further read, I learned that this vampire does not sparkle. The vampire, who I will not name here, is an old-fashioned, scary walker of the night. This vampire is serious, and is more inline with the Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi type of vamps.

Straightforward dialogue, some humor, and a supernatural theme, makes Helens of Troy a bit of fresh air in a world where vampires are drying up fast.
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on March 6, 2012
"Helens-of-Troy" is a book that is easy to read but it is not a "cheap" story !
Among things that you will find in Troy there is great engaging characters and brilliant dialogs and of course some action.
There are more things going on in Troy that you may expect in the first place. A lot more ! And you will find it delightful, except for the drama part of course. Because Troy is not an all-happy place and some sad things happen there too.
I tried this book out of curiosity and I was not disappointed at all. I heard somewhere that there would be some more stories about the Helens ? Is that true ? I wish...
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on July 21, 2014
What I liked:

the book was fun- the ladies (all three of them) were crazy and stubborn but they delivered when the occasion called for it.

that there were more secrets to unveil- a sequel would be awesome.

the rest of the characters were as fun to read about- Tom, Ryan, poor Stan and Jacey.

What I didn't like:

Would have liked a bit more about Jacey's baby- whether the vampire was bluffing and how did he found out about the kid, anyway.

there wasn't any information about how the wraith brothers teamed up with the vampire in the first place.

Really fun read- demon nannies, vampire godsons, exorcising runaway husbands, berserker football players and ghost dads; the book has it all- & I would love to meet the grandmother-I'm sure she kicks ass too. She won't be on the Devil's hit list otherwise!
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on May 25, 2012
This story is a clever premise, that the Helens have longer lives and are in tune with the spirit world. The story is a coming of age for the grand-daughter; a coming to terms with her powers and family business for the mother; and a resolving past issues for the grandma.

It was a book that immediately grabbed you, demanded your attention, and kept you glued to the pages wanting more. I give this 4 out of 5 clouds.

This product or book may have been distributed for review; this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.
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on May 31, 2012
Helens was an enthralling story that had me sucked in from the very beginning. The angst of the teenage daughter mixed with the angst of the adult mother and toss in more angst from the grandmother. What would ordinarily be a recipe for disaster actually equals up to a fun read that kept me in it from beginning to end. I can't wait to see what else the Helens will be up to next!
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