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Minotaur Kindle Edition
|Length: 232 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
It is not a badass heroine adventure story. I was thinking/hoping it would be something along the lines of Tiana Warner's 'Ice Massacre' and this is far from it.
It is not a warm and fuzzy coming of age romance.
It does not have an all together likable protagonist.
The book centers on a girl in her late teens but I wouldn't necessarily call this a YA book, either, due to darker and mature content. Then again, my favorite book as a teenager, that I must've read twenty times over, was about a former druggie, depressed girl living in her estranged father's house after her mother committed suicide and she herself was ostracized from her school due to unwittingly playing a part in getting a popular girl murdered (and who's ex-boyfriend happened to be the murderer)...so what do I know? It's a fuzzy line sometimes.
That said, the book isn't bad, either...depending on what you're looking for.
Thera is a surly, unlikable narrator for the story and is far from "good". She's a traumatized, neglected and rejected sixteen year old who we meet as she enters a girls home. The first 60% of the book takes place in this home where she meets Alle, the girl she comes to love, along with a couple of girls she befriends that are just as unsavory as she is. During her time in the home, she does evolve, but not entirely...and there's a certain tragedy to all of the girls' stories in their present as you read. Stephen King's 'Stand By Me' comes to mind when I think about this book if that helps any.
The last 40% of the book takes place in the labyrinth where it turns into an 'Alice in Wonderland' type story so there is an aspect of fantasy adventure...it just takes awhile to get to it.
Overall, the book has an odd tone, not only for its darkness, but because I couldn't tell if the book was based in reality and not a fantasy book at all or if we really were in some different world. By the end of the book, that inquiry gets answered but it leaves questions, too...
There is a girlfriend relationship that develops between Thera and Alle that has a sweet aspect but it's not exactly for romantics.
The language of the book is written with richness and beauty...and I get the feeling this book is chock full of metaphors and allusions that I missed and would be well-served to be in some kind of book club discussion.
It does have ethnic diversity. Both Thera and Alle are non-white...The ethnicity isn't mentioned explicitly but Thera is described as having darker skin than others, with Alle being dark-skinned and the darkest of anyone in the home.
Ultimately, 'Minotaur' is a good book but it doesn't feel good to read. It ends on a higher note, though.
Heather Rose Jones (an author herself) has a very apt and descriptive review on Amazon for 'Minotaur' so I suggest you check out her thoughts, as well.
Do I recommend it? If you're into darker stories and anti-heroes written with rich language, then yes. If not, you may want to skip it.
Minotaur by J. A. Rock isn't a book that would ordinarily have caught my attention. In fact, I bought it entirely because it appeared on the Book Clips series at The Lesbian Talk Show podcast(*). (I confess it's the first time I've bought a book based on being included in the series.) I was so impressed by what I heard that I think I pulled out my iPhone and called up the iBooks store while still sitting in my car at the end of the commute when I listened to it.
Minotaur is a fantasy. Or maybe it's a YA-ish story of adolescent rebellion in a home for wayward girls. Maybe the titular minotaur actually did terrify the town in a previous generation. Or maybe it's an urban legend, whispered among the girls at the Rock Point Girls' Home as a terrifying entertainment. Maybe Thera has a vivid imagination, or maybe the tangled imagery in the opening monolog is remnants of her being hopped up on stolen drugs. Maybe she's an unreliable narrator...or maybe she really will become a hero that slays a monster.
I read this story not knowing whether the promise of fantasy was genuine or a misdirection, and I won't spoil that aspect for other readers. At its heart, this is the story of an unwanted, neglected girl who turns herself hard to survive, then learns how to open herself again for love--both the love of friends and romantic love. The setting is a dreary, narrow-minded small town, still stuck in an era when the sympathetic counselor at the Girls' Home who shows too much affection for the girls is whispered visciously to be a "BD," which it took me a while to decode as "bull-dyke." So when roommates Thera and Alle begin exploring their tentative desire for each other, there are layers of confusion, ignorance, and despair to work through. They promise to stay together when they age out of the home, not truly believing such a thing is possible and each doubting that she is worthy of that sort of love.
As I said above, on the surface, it isn't the sort of story that usually attracts me. But the language--oh my, the language. J. A. Rock has an extraordinary command of voice, of description, of easing you into an alien world (in this case, the world of Rock Point) and making you care about the inhabitants, even when they're people you wouldn't much like in real life.
The only place where the book faltered for me was in an extended descriptive passage after the book changes gears when Thera leaves the Home. (I'm being a little cagey here to avoid spoilers.) There was a section that went on aimlessly and--dare I say--self-indulgently just a bit too long. The plot picked up again just about when I was at the edge of my patience, but I certainly wasn't sorry I kept going.
This is not a light and fluffy book. There are dark bits and violent bits and a few squicky bits. But it's solid and compelling and ultimately triumphant. (I'd consider that last a spoiler, except that too many readers of queer stories need to know they aren't going to get punched in the face by Queer Tragedy.)
(*) Full disclosure: my own podcast series "The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast" also runs on The Lesbian Talk Show.
Most recent customer reviews
Macabre, dark, and complex along the twisting path of a story structured much like the labyrinth of legend.Read more
The book opens with 16 year old Thera Ballard coming to live at Rock Point Girls’...Read more
Thera Ballard is not a warrior—she is a disease. From those opening lines, The Minotaur by J.A.Read more
A girl who was scared loved one who was brave. A girl fool enough to try to play hero saw the underlying hornlessness of monsters.Read more
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