From School Library Journal
Grade 8-10?What was it like to be the beauteous Helen of Troy, or to be Cassandra, the unappreciated visionary? This novel tries to offer some answers. It begins in the mind of 12-year-old Helen, abducted (but chastely treated) by Theseus, sought after by a dozen contentious suitors, married lovelessly to Menelaus, and finally?the only act in which she has not been completely passive?enthralled by passion in the form of Paris. If Helen, the victim of her own beauty and rank, is not exactly a heroine, Paris is far from a hero. He, too, is passive, blaming his actions on the will of the gods (particularly, Aphrodite), and is fonder of love and his own looks than he is of battle. Fortunately, almost two thirds of the novel is given to Cassandra. Her description of Helen as "bone sweet" does not, however, conform to the Helen we have met in Part I. Of course many readers will know the outcome of the story, but the accounts of battles, negotiations and stratagems, seen from within Troy, still manage to be suspenseful, and the ending is particularly deft. The writing is competent but not especially vivid and too often predictable; there is some clumsy exposition. Little differentiates the voice of Cassandra from the voice of Helen: both are misfits in their world, but their speech and thoughts lack individual identity. Nevertheless, the novel is carefully structured, there are some interesting historical details, and the idea of a woman's-eye view of The Iliad would seem timely. If this novel manages to introduce even a few more readers to the world of the ancient Greeks, it will be worth its shelf space.?Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 7^-10. Promising first-time author McLaren gives us the story of the Trojan War from two points of view. She begins with the divinely beautiful Helen, who recounts her own history--from her kidnapping at age 12 by Theseus to her marriage to Menelaus to her head-over-heels encounter with handsome, arrogant Paris. The remainder of the book is narrated by Paris' sister Cassandra, who experiences painful visions of the future (precipitated by Helen's arrival) but can get no one to believe her. These ancient stories are made as fresh and vivid as any modern tale by the electrifying characters and sensual details. By the time the tragedy has unfolded, readers will no longer think of Helen, Penelope, Achilles, and Odysseus as dull entries in a history text but will recognize them as gripping, fascinating personalities. Susan Dove Lempke
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