I read Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella last year and loved it. You can see this review HERE, but today I wanted to share with you my review of the second in the series, By Helen’s Hand. Amalia is an elegant writer, with prose that drips description and feeling, and with this sophomore book in the series I could ascertain that her writing had grown even more. I found her first book excellent, but here her prose flowed smoother and her storytelling through word phrasing was much more fluid.
I already enjoy the subject matter. Anything written of ancient times of mythology or Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, etc. and I’m all over it. However, the writing still has to draw me in and not be dry and Amalia’s writing does just that…allows me to flow with it as a river current. By Helen’s Hand picks up where Helen of Sparta leaves off, so it would be enjoyable for a reader to check out both if they haven’t picked up the first one yet, but I suppose you wouldn’t really need to either. You could always go back and read the first as a prequel. We’ve read about the events leading to the Trojan War (well, those of us who enjoy reading on these topics, but at least we’ve all heard about it), but Amalia offers us an original perspective.We come to enjoy reading of the relationship between Helen and the whole other gamut of fully flushed characters you’ll remember from mythology.
Though it features the characters of mythology, this novel is more an intertwining interpretation of the intrigue and relationships, good and bad, between names you’ve heard of like Helen of Troy, Paris, Theseus, Odysseus, Menelaus.
Helen, the daughter of Zeus, has been brought back to Sparta by her family as this novel begins and Theseus (her love-King of Athens and son of Poseidon) is caught in the underworld. Amalia shows us Helen’s capability to make her destiny by defying those trying to make choices for her and trying to bring war on her people. Amalia focuses on Helen’s independence and her strong will to try to thwart those coming against her and her family. Everything in Amalia’s novel focuses on Helen and her relationships, even her inner self, more than the over arching mythology. The mythology is only the foundation to create a new tale in which we see Helen more clearly. They seem like real people now, not just mythical characters. As the plot unfolds we also meet Paris in this book and view the interesting love story flourishing between Helen and he. Paris is depicted much differently than the cowardly one generally remembered, instead as more of a determined and loyal man, as Amalia writes these flawed characters in a way that we gain understanding and compassion.
I was really enthusiastic about the ending as she featured a lesser known part of the myth which features Egypt. The Egyptology fanatic in me about peed my pants in loving this section. I won’t talk on it too much more as to not spoil the book. You can ultimately tell she highly researched books, sites, articles, and consulted with professional historians on the subject to collect information in order to piece together this veritable puzzle (one that ultimately has many holes and suspicions Homer never clarified). I really enjoyed how Amalia portrayed it and how she allowed us to see what could be fantasy as so very real.
Overall, this is definitely a book that you can become absorbed in and you should be able to remove a few hours of stress from your life by imagining the world of Helen and those that surround her. An epic series that rivals any other retelling out there, By Helen’s Hand is certainly captivating for fans of historical fiction, mythology, or historical romance.
I highly recommend both books in this series for historical readers who like to be swept away by an ancient tale. This is a Helen you won’t want to miss being emblazoned on your memory and an ending that you’ll never forget.
By Helen’s Hand (Helen of Sparta #2) by Amalia Carosella
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
Lake Union Publishing
eBook & Paperback;
Genre: Historical Fiction
With divine beauty comes dangerous power.
Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.
But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?
Amalia Carosella, Biography
Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AmaliaCarosella