The Shadow of the Minotaur: (Shadows From The Past)
Written by Wendy Leighton-Porter
This is the second book in a planned fifteen book series which takes three children and a Tonkinese cat on a series of time travel adventures. Twins Joe and Jemima live with their Uncle Richard since their parents mysteriously disappeared. In the first book of the series, the twins journey with their talking cat, Max and their friend Charlie back in time to Atlantis in search of their parents. Using the same magic bird golden charms, they continue on their search in book two to ancient Greece. The reader meets Prince Theseus, the son of King Aegeus about to be sent with seven women and six other men as tribute to King Minos. They must kill the half human and half bull Minotaur and escape the labyrinth deep in the bowls of the palace of Knossos or sacrifice themselves.
The children and Max find themselves on the Greek ship traveling to Knossos where they meet Theseus. They instruct him to use a ball of wool to guide him through the maze and assure him that he will succeed in his quest. He learns that the king’s daughter Princess Ariadne will assist him. King Aegeus asks that Theseus change the black sails to white sails when he returns as a sign that he has been successful, but the outlook is bleak as no one has ever returned alive from this mission. When the ship arrives in Crete, the children are shocked to meet Medon and his family, the very same family that helped them escape from Atlantis! They present Jemima with a disc of terracotta in Linear B script bearing the name of their baby, Jemima who has been named after her. Medon helps them find the palace of Knossos. Princess Ariadne bribes a guard and helps the Athenians. She hopes to escape her cruel father and travel back to Athens with Theseus. When the plans go awry, she places Max the talking cat in a basket and sends him back to Medon for help. Meanwhile our heroes and the Athenians are trapped in the labyrinth trying to kill the Minotaur and escape. They face numerous perils and a gruesome task for Theseus has pledged to bring back the head of the beast as a trophy.
The author adds some modern technology to the myth and develops the characters well in interesting fashion. The plot moves along at a quick pace alternating between scenes at the palace, the ship, and our three modern time travelers. I would have loved to have seen a few illustrations of the more dramatic scenes interwoven with the story. Tweens and young adults will love the mixture of ancient myth, spunky characters and modern technology woven together in the book. Readers who wish to continue the adventure series will find themselves back in time within the Trojan horse in the third book of this series.