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The Order of Actaeon: Waxwood Series: Book 1 Kindle Edition
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That said, I also recommend readers understand the background of the very basic Greek myth of the hunter, Actaeon, before or during reading this novel. May does share the story in different ways through the book, but having a base knowledge first helps.
The Order of Actaeon is an oddly coming-of-age story about adult children who have never grown up in a family seemingly in isolation in many ways. The story begins in contemporary times in San Francisco and begins on a left foot in the purview of the family matriarch saying farewell to her dying father. Her view of her adult children seemingly sets one tone for the book that ends with the Introduction and Larissa’s voice. Jake takes up the storyline in chapter one. Jake will probably never step into the family patriarchal role of leader and business mogul. He has an artist’s soul, if not encouragement or self-acceptance. A character is introduced who has the power to send the family on a summer break, and then shoved off-stage. While on this summer break, another powerful man, Harding Stevens, steps into the gap and changes the course of their lives.
Another important aspect to appreciate this novel is to step into Jake’s shoes as he slowly reveals the depravation of his psyche and the desperation to fill it with love and admiration, no matter the source. May’s lyricism in describing the comparison Larissa makes between Jake and his father, no longer in the picture, show this beautifully when Jake broods that his mother has “kept photographs never taken and never thrown away” of his father. The love of his sister will never be enough. Jake’s need to garner the admiration of Stevens starts on the highest of proverbial pedestals, and you know what they say about the length of the fall. While he charms Larissa and repels Vivian who also has a strange attraction to him, Jake comes the closest to leaving his self-imposed funk.
The reader is led on an emotional awakening with Jake and Stevens. Toward the climax of the story, Stevens asks, “No one is going to alienate you anymore, isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”
I’m not really sure how to describe what seems to be merely a prop, the Order of Actaeon as a group of men Stevens seemed to have stumbled upon. When I try to recall exactly the role of the group, I wonder if the story wouldn’t be just as good without them. But this is just the first book in a series, and I’m sure there are plenty more twists to come.
Those who like classic and psychological family dramas will find this novel intriguing.
Intriguing, and well written, this is a very provocative book that will make you wonder about what will come next.
I received a copy of this book and volunteered to leave an honest review.
The characters are challenging, and often unlikable. The plot was interesting and unexpected.
Initially I found the story hard to follow, up until the Alderdice family left for Waxwood. Once I got past this however, the story was much easier to follow and I enjoyed it immensely. I look forward to the next book in the series.