Reviews for Lost in the Labyrinth : A Novel


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 November 2002
Gr. 6-10. Kindl follows her fairy-tale novel Goose Chase (2001) with a Greek tragedy that misses some of the wit and straightforward romance that lighten the action of her previous work. Fourteen-year-old Princess Xenodice's quiet, sheltered life on the island of Kefti (modern-day Crete) turns into a tragic bloodbath when the yearly shipment of Athenian slaves brings Theseus, the prince of Athens, to guard Xenodice's half-bull, half-human brother--the Minotaur. Like the story's famous labyrinth, there are too many unexplained turns in the narrative and dead-end plot lines (a Rasputin-like advisor seems particularly superfluous). The complex familial relationships, political intrigues, and social codes and laws may easily lose readers, and the symbolism, including disturbing ghostly visits from Xenodice's sister, is often more puzzling than forceful. It's Xenodice's strong, appealing character that will get readers through the maze; her first-person narration brings the ancient setting vividly to life with rich detail and timeless emotions--sibling rivalry, heart-pounding crushes, moral outrage, and the pain of family secrets. An intriguing, if uneven, blend of history, myth, and fiction. ((Reviewed November 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
With Greek myth as its framework, this novel has the trappings, though not the structure, of a tragedy. Most engaging is Kindl's ability to imagine what it would have been like for a princess to live in the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, to be in love with a slave, to try--and fail--to save those she loves, and to live after that failure. Attentive to archaeological detail and emotional probity, Kindl brings the Minotaur myth to life. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #6
Daedalus and Icarus fled the labyrinth on Crete by taking wing, with well-known results; Theseus killed the Minotaur after tracing his way through the labyrinth following a thread given him by the princess Ariadne. Kindl employs these stories from Greek mythology as the framework for her novel, taking on the perspective of Xenodice, Ariadne's younger sister. Loving her half-brother Asterius, the bull-like monster at the heart of the labyrinth, Xenodice does her best to protect him against Theseus's murderous "heroic" posturing, but she is ultimately powerless in the web of conspiracies and betrayals dividing her family. And because the inventor Daedalus and his son helped their fellow Athenian, Theseus, in the plot, they are sentenced to death-an outcome Xenodice can't abide. "When I was a small child," she says in her archaically formal first-person narration, "I determined that I would never marry if I could not have Icarus, son of Daedalus and Naucrate, as my husband, and so I think to this day." So she gives them the materials to escape and is a witness to Icarus's fall. The story has the trappings, though not the structure, of tragedy-the heroine is too sympathetic to possess a tragic flaw; her choices are overwhelmed by circumstances rather than by their own inherent weaknesses. What really engages the reader is the consistency of Kindl's ability to imagine what it would have been like for a princess on Crete to live in the labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, to love her family and to be in love with a slave, to try-and fail-to save those she loves, and to go on to live after that failure. Attentive to both archaeological detail and emotional probity, Kindl fleshes out the Minotaur myth's bare bones and brings it to life. Copyright2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 August #1
The legends of Theseus and Icarus are here braided together in a historical novel imagined from the Cretan perspective. The 14-year-old Princess Xenodice keeps herself out of much of the intrigue of the court of Knossos; in this place of seething emotions and barely suppressed resentments she is more than content to be an observer. A loving, if sometimes exasperated sister, she does the bidding of her imperious older sister Ariadne-heir apparent to the throne-but manages to find time for her two pleasures: visiting with the handsome craftsman Icarus in his father's workshop, and with Asterius, her part-boy, part-bull younger half-brother, in the Bull Pen at the center of the Labyrinth. But then the latest shipment of Athenian slaves arrives. The hairily uncouth Theseus and his vow to kill Asterius precipitate a chain of events that leaves Xenodice herself utterly alone. Kindl (Goose Chase, 2001, etc.) does a good job at imagining the setting, creating out of the wisps of legend and archaeology a fully realized matriarchy (an author's note explains that this is her own hypothetical leap), a cultural and economic powerhouse that holds itself as vastly superior to the upstart Athens. Xenodice's narrative, however, is overly formal, resulting in a frequently ponderous tone: "My head drooped; I stared at my feet. Never before had I desired another's death. But now I was frightened. I did not know the precise nature of the danger, but my forebodings centered around the young Athenian." Only very rarely is this tone leavened by the wry and clever wit that has marked the author's previous novels, and although the story is certainly compelling, Xenodice is always somehow at arm's length from the reader. Worth purchasing for the originality of the perspective and careful realization of the setting, it would do well paired with a new copy of Renault's The King Must Die (cited as suggested further reading). (Fiction. 12+) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 July #4
Kindl (Goose Chase) inventively meshes classical myths, archeological findings and imaginative speculation in an intriguing tale full of mystery and emotion. Set in Crete, the story up-ends tradition, in which Ariadne achieves a tragic glory for helping the Greek hero Theseus slay the Minotaur. Kindl taps Ariadne's younger sister, Princess Xenodice, to narrate. Where this Ariadne is ruthless, like their stepmother, Queen Pasiphae, who rules over matriarchal Crete, Xenodice is kindhearted. She feels protective of her half-brother Asterius, the much-feared Minotaur who is kept in a separate chamber of the labyrinth where the royal family resides. While most people consider Asterius a monster, the princess grows deeply troubled when she learns that Ariadne and Ariadne's lover, Theseus, are conspiring to kill him. Then Xenodice discovers that she and her good friends Daedalus and Icarus also may be in danger. The author nimbly reweaves classical motifs while vividly conjuring an ancient world. As fans of her The Woman in the Wall might expect, Kindl does particular justice to the idiosyncrasies of the labyrinth; her envisioning of a matriarchal society and its rituals also proves memorable. While the story will especially interest those with a grounding in mythology, cloak-and-dagger buffs should enjoy it, too. Ages 10-14. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 November
Gr 6-10-Kindl retells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur through the perceptive eyes of Xenodice, the younger sister of Ariadne. In this inventive version, no Athenians are killed by the Minotaur, who is gentle despite his monstrous appearance, unless provoked. Xenodice loves and tries to protect her human/bull brother, not only from the harshly heroic Theseus, but also from the schemes of her own family. The author artfully includes many elements of the legend while at the same time creating a fully realized and original setting. Xenodice elegantly narrates the events, introducing characters and providing background information without disrupting the flow of the storytelling. Early on, she acts more as an observer than a participant in events, and her automatic obedience to the strong-willed Ariadne hides the courage she shows later. The story becomes more involving when Xenodice herself takes a more active role, attempting a midnight rescue of her brother and later helping Daedalus and Icarus (whom she loves) make their winged escape attempt. Readers who know the legend will enjoy the parallels and contrasts that occur throughout, but the strong storytelling lets Xenodice's tale stand on its own, as well.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR #

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VOYA Reviews 2003 February
Greek mythology is given a new twist in this novel about Ancient Crete and the terrifying, half-bull-half-man, the Minotaur. Told by his sister Xenodice, this story of the Minotaur reveals him to be less brutish and more misunderstood. Xenodice provides the background for the myth of the Minotaur-how Athenian children are sent to Crete to serve as slaves, an annual tribute demanded by King Minos for Athenian treachery toward Minos' oldest son Androgeus. Xenodice is the Minotaur's only ally when Theseus, Icarus, and Daedalus attempt to destroy him. The book concludes with a tantalizing report of the 1900 discovery of "an enormous, labyrinthine palace of immense antiquity" on the island of Crete. Here the major players of legend take on believable human traits and emotions, as Xenodice, her family, and her attendants are immersed in palace intrigue and international relations. The court of King Minos is rich in the details of daily life, making the ancient story and characters come to life on every page. Kindl's language is strong, eloquent, and determined, as would befit the voice of Princess Xenodice. Her compassion and love for her brother will resonate for young adult readers today. Fans of mythology will appreciate a fresh perspective on this tale of violence, revenge, and family loyalty.-Chris Finer. 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews

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