The Shadow of the Minotaur is the second in Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Shadows from the Past series. These books really appeal to me since they deal with a bit of history I did at school – my history knowledge doesn’t go much past 1066 as I gave up History to study German. I have some general knowledge of other times, like the Napoleonic Wars (due to Sharpe and Aubrey/Maturin) and the Great Fire of London because we did a project on that at junior school! But I loved Greek Myths, and at present that’s the era that Wendy Leighton-Porter is treating us to, with the adventures of Jemima and Joe, and their friend Charlie, and Max the cat.
The second in the series picks up from The Shadow of Atlantis and sends Jemima, Joe and Charlie (and Max) off to a ship travelling from Athens to Crete. It’s just over a year since they visited Atlantis, and there is a delightful meeting, or should I say reunion, with the family they persuaded to flee from Atlantis before it was too late. The first half of the book is an interesting mix of holidaying and news gathering, with an underlying issue of the sacrifice to the Minotaur of the Athenian young people, who were on the ship they arrived on.
Suddenly it gets serious, and our heroes are at the entrance to the labyrinth where the Minotaur awaits his dinner, i.e. a human sacrifice or several. Theseus seems not quite the hero we read of in the myths. The story twists and turns much like the labyrinth and continues to do so right to the end.
I found this to be very much a book of two halves – one light and inconsequential, the other adventurous, exciting and sometimes unexpected. Maybe setting up the story works well with the more touristic approach, but I couldn’t wait to get to the action.
However, as one who holds the memory of those buildings and painted walls of the palace at Knossos from a very early history lesson, I found it deeply satisfying to be transported there by Ms Leighton-Porter’s excellent and detailed descriptions.
It is a book rich with a magical departed culture, and an exciting encounter with a truly horrible monster. Fortunately our heroes (male, female and feline) live to adventure another day. Where next? I’m looking forward to the Trojan Horse!
Read as part of the MG & YA Time Travel Book Challenge
The People’s Book Prize
The Shadow of the Minotaur has been nominated for The People’s Book Prize, Autumn 2013. The People’s Book Prize is a competition organised to support the eradication of illiteracy and is voted for by the public. Voting takes place online and is currently on-going through to the end of November, 2013. Will you take a moment to vote and to help Wendy receive some well-deserved recognition, please? You just have to click on the link to visit the website. THANK YOU SO MUCH!
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