Author: J.A. Rock
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication date: October 19th 2015
Page Count: 277 pages
Age Rating: Adult (violence, language, disturbing imagery, and vague sexual scenes)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received a copy to review
Publisher’s page: Minotaur
Know this: I am not a warrior. I am a disease.
When I was six, my parents died.
When I was sixteen, I was locked away in Rock Point Girls’ Home. Nobody wants to deal with a liar. An addict. A thief.
Nobody except Alle. She is pure, and she’s my friend in spite of all the rotten things I am.
There was once another girl like me—long ago. A cast-off daughter. A lying little beast who left a red stain across the land with her terrible magic. She’s imprisoned now in a maze high up on the cliffs. They say she’s half woman, half bull. They say she dines on human tributes and guards a vast treasure. They say she was born wicked.
But I know her better than the history books or stories do. She and I dream together. Our destinies are twisted up like vines.
Except I’m not going to turn out wicked like she is. I can save myself by destroying her. I’m going to break out of this place, and I’m going to enter the labyrinth and take her heart.
And once I’m redeemed, maybe Alle will love me.
Set in the 1930’s, Minotaur is 60% coming-of-age story and 40% monster hunt adventure.
The book opens with 16 year old Thera Ballard coming to live at Rock Point Girls’ Home, an all-girls orphanage, after the last of her family, an elderly aunt, washes her hands of the troublesome teen. Thera is pretty much mad at the world and determined to hate everyone and everything. Despite herself, she makes friends at the home and even finds herself falling in love with one of the other girls there, Alle. This is the coming-of-age part of the story.
Rock Hills, a small coastal town south of the orphanage, was the scene many years ago of the bloody rampage of the Minotaur – a vicious sorceress with her own anger problems stemming from the hand the universe had dealt her. Thera feels a kinship with the Minotaur that becomes a kind of obsession to the point where a few times she actually thinks the Minotaur is literally in her dreams and thoughts (this is never confirmed one way of the other). Eventually, Thera sets out for the labyrinth to confront the object of her obsession. This is the monster hunt adventure part of the tale. This was also my favorite part of the story – the domain of the Minotaur is an almost non-stop horror show of dark, page-turning imaginings.
This book ended up being much deeper than I thought it would be. We spend a lot of time in Thera’s head. She’s the first person narrator of the story, so that’s only natural, but she’s got some issues, some deeply emotional issues, and the action in this book is minimal, taking a backseat to Thera’s thought processes as she deals with the world, people, and events around her. I never really liked Thera, but that’s ok – she doesn’t want you to like her; in fact, at times she thrives on being despised and feared. The only person who’s high opinion she cares about is Alle’s, and even then there are times when, in a fit of pique, Thera purposely tries to make Alle dislike her as well. Thera is a complicated girl, which is what makes her such a fascinating anti-hero.
All in all, I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying Minotaur. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was beautiful and yet ugly in a way that captivates. I will absolutely be on the lookout for more books by the author.
“Know this: I am not a warrior.” – this is the first line of Minotaur and it’s repeated often within the pages of the book. Thera knows she is no warrior, and yet in her heart of hearts, that’s what she wishes to be more than anything. It’s kind of telling that this fearsome, angry girl wants to be a strong soldier whose sole purpose is to destroy the evil of the world. While she never quite makes “warrior” status, sometimes it really is the thought that counts, even if reality doesn’t match up to dreams and expectations. For Thera, I’m recommending Peet’s Coffee Warrior Grounds – a strong dark roast with an aggressive kick.