A Free Dreamer Review: Minotaur by J.A. Rock

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Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

Minotaur_600x900Know 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.

This is the first F/F book I’ve ever read, so when asked if I was interested, I wasn’t sure at first. But I really liked “When All the World Sleeps” by J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry, so I figured I might as well give it a try.

The reason why I really didn’t like this book isn’t that it’s F/F, I didn’t mind that part, though it probably isn’t really for me. No, it was the character of Thera.  I couldn’t stand Thera from the start. She’s not an evil woman, or even dangerous. She’s just an angry, whiny teenager, who hates the world. She’s selfish, incredibly annoying and not exactly the brightest out there. She goes off to slay a monster and doesn’t even think about bringing a weapon till it’s too late? Seriously? She lies for absolutely no reason whatsoever, even to Alle, who she’s oh-so-in-love with. Something I didn’t buy, by the way. When Alle doesn’t behave the way Thera wants her to, she’s furious and throws a temper tantrum. And as soon as she gets the opportunity, she cheats on her. What kind of love is that supposed to be?

Then there’s the world building, which was essentially non-existent. It felt like America in the 50s or 60s, except that the girls all wear pants and sweaters. And there’s magic and curses and a monster, of course. Which is the extent of world building we get here. I still don’t know whether this is the only town with magic and such, or if it’s commonplace all over the world. I still don’t know just how the magic works. Or is there even magic at all? I’m not sure. For heaven’s sake: Dear authors all over the world, if you’re going to write FANTASY, PLEASE DO SOME WORLD BUILDING. Seriously, that’s a major pet peeve of mine. And no, it’s absolutely no excuse that this was supposed to focus on the romance. You can do both, romance AND world building.

Apart from the protagonist, who I couldn’t stand, and the world building, which didn’t exist, very, very little happened during the first 60% or so. Then the plot finally started to pick up and was somewhat interesting for about 10%. Then it all went downhill again and I was just fed up with everything. I even skimmed the last 5% or so, since it just wouldn’t end, although there really wasn’t anything left to tell. So, essentially there wasn’t much of a plot here either.

In short, I did not like this book. At all. The protagonist was irritating beyond words, there was absolutely no world building, the romance wasn’t convincing in the least and very little actually happened for more than half of the book. The half star I added is for the basic plot idea, which did sound interesting, and the 10% of somewhat interesting plot

The cover by Imaliea is the best part of this book. It’s what first caught my eye. Though in hindsight, I have no idea why Thera is carrying a sword here.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book details:

ebook, 275 pages
Published October 19th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN 162649312X (ISBN13: 9781626493124)

Greek Mythology Comes to Life with MINOTAUR by J.A. Rock (guest post and giveaway)

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Minotaur_600x900

MINOTAUR by J.A. Rock

Published by Riptide Publishing
Cover Art by  Imaliea

Buy it at Riptide Publishing

Hi! I’m J.A. Rock, and I’m touring the internet with my new release, MINOTAUR, a queer fantasy/horror reimagining of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. And there’s a giveaway involved! I’m giving one reader a chance to win Lost in a Jigsaw, the puzzle that nearly destroyed my sanity a few years ago (but provided hours of fun, I swear), as well as a $15 Riptide voucher.


Thanks so much to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me here today, and to everyone following the tour.  Here’s today’s look at MINOTAUR.

The Legend of the Minotaur

There are many versions of the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur. The basic story is that King Minos of Crete’s wife, Queen Pasiphae, was cursed by Poseidon to fall in love with a bull. She slept with the bull and gave birth to a monster that was half-man, half-bull, which King Minos then had shut up in a labyrinth so complicated, no one could get out of it alive.

Every year, seven Athenian men and seven Athenian women were sent to the labyrinth as tributes to keep the Minotaur satisfied. Theseus eventually decided to go into the labyrinth as one of the tributes and kill the Minotaur. To ensure he could find his way out, Princess Ariadne, Minos’s daughter, gave Theseus a ball of thread, so that he could tie one end to the labyrinth’s door and follow the thread back to the entrance.

I didn’t actually know the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur terribly well when I started Minotaur. My mom had a book of Greek myths she read to me from when I was a kid, and I liked the story of the labyrinth because I was obsessed with mazes. Loving mazes is a thing. I reacquainted myself with the legend by reading it over a couple of times before I started writing, but I wasn’t looking to do a blow-by-blow retelling of the myth. Nor was I looking to do anything specific and agenda-driven, like “a feminist retelling of the Minotaur story.”

What I did want to do was explore themes of heroism, sacrifice, self-discovery, and what makes a monster. Minotaur takes place in an unspecified time based very loosely on the 1930s, and centers on an angry orphan, Thera, whose fascination with a legendary beast comes in part from the wickedness she perceives in herself. Years before Thera was born, a young woman gave birth to a baby she couldn’t care for, and the baby grew into the Minotaur, a half-woman, half-bull who terrorized the town of Rock Hill before she was trapped in a labyrinth. Now the town feeds her tributes in the form of orphans and criminals in order to keep her satisfied in her prison.

There are characters in Minotaur who have counterparts in the legend—though Thera is almost an anti-Theseus, drawn to the labyrinth for selfish reasons, and frustrated by society’s willingness to deem grand acts “heroic” while failing to recognize more subtle, honest displays of loyalty and courage as anything other than recklessness and stupidity.

What I love about the original myth is the way you just kind of have to roll with it. Pasiphae was cursed to fall in love with a bull? Okay, why not. The king had Daedalus build a massive labyrinth to contain the Minotaur? Sure. Myths are stories where so much seems to be going on below the surface, and yet they’ve been reduced to easily digestible two or three paragraph tales.

I didn’t care so much about being true to the legend as I did about showing what might lie under the surface in a story like Theseus’s, or Thera’s. Minotaur is not a tale about a monster and a hero, but rather about the way the two coexist in all of us.

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Giveaway

Thanks for being part of the tour! To celebrate this release, I’m giving one commenter Lost in a Jigsaw, the award winning maze puzzle—all the pieces fit together, so the only way to know if you’ve put it together correctly is to solve the maze. If this sounds too much like torture, rest assured that you also get a $15 Riptide voucher. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you.  Please leave your email address so we can get in touch with you if chosen. On October 26th, I’ll draw a winner from all eligible comments. Contest is not limited to US entries. If you’d like,follow the whole tour—the more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

Blurb

Minotaur_600x900GreekKnow 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.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/minotaur

About The Author

J.A. Rock is the author of queer romance and suspense novels, including By His Rules, Take the Long Way Home, and, with Lisa Henry, The Good Boy and When All the World Sleeps. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and a BA in theater from Case Western Reserve University. J.A. also writes queer fiction and essays under the name Jill Smith. Raised in Ohio and West Virginia, she now lives in Chicago with her dog, Professor Anne Studebaker.