Evanthia's Gift, the first book in the Gift saga, is a brilliantly written, touching, and emotionally charged story. Kammenou's characters are engaging and real, providing the reader with not only the ability to connect with each but to engage in their emotional journey. Each was realistically flawed, broken, or somehow affected by their past, which made the reader engage in their story on a personal level as much of what these characters experience is very relatable.
The author's ensemble cast of characters helps to elevate the story-lines and the Greek culture, which she is portraying. Not only do her characters and story-line provide a better understanding into this culture but the author adds a personal touch by including authentic recipes inside the books pages, a wonderful treat for the reader. The author also touches on the historical past of Greece and her people; insight into the horrors attributed to the Nazi invasion, the religious aspects of the characters homeland, and the personal past that contributes to each character's development. She also provides the reader with beautifully rendered visuals through her artistic world-building.
The plot twists keep the reader engaged but are realistic, enhancing the difficulties of maintaining relationships over years and through generations. Wound into the fabric of this multi-generational story are an exceptional group of antagonists - whether they be estranged sisters, ex-husbands, pride, or life-threatening diseases, Kammenou does not shy away from portraying them in their tragically wicked, agonizing, and heart wrenching dark truth.
The story is possibly the most emotionally draining read I have experienced in a very long time. It takes a talented writer be able to evoke a multitude of emotions from a reader in such an intense and breathtaking way. Kammenou has managed to do this in spades.
Clearly, the author has a very personal connection with the culture, the places depicted in her book, and the "family saga" that she portrays in the pages, making Evanthia's Gift a book that is truly inspirational and authentic.
I have already purchased the second book in the series and am looking forward to reading it very soon.
From the Author
My mom spoke of her childhood in Greece often, and I used what she told me to create a fictional story, one that was very loosely based on true events. Her accounts of WWII, her journey to America, and the history of her family all came into play.
My dad had his own stories, and at ninety-four years old, he is still feeding me family history and memories from his childhood.
The story itself just developed as I wrote it, and the basic plot that I had in my mind for some time, flourished into a story more detailed than I'd expected.