A review by Domoni.
For 200 years, minotaurs have covered the land and enslaved humans. Women are used as breeding stock. If they carry a male it will be a calf, to further the line of the oppressors, killing the mother during birth. If a female is born, they are added to the slave ranks to be used for breeding when they come of age. When Ayla is taken to be bred, she has nothing left to live for. Running away would be death. She cries out into the night for her mother; her cry is answered. The Goddess of Darkness comes to Ayla and imbues her with the power of a priestess. She must lead the revolution to free the people and break the curse placed on the Goddess’s own son Tor, who created the race of minotaurs.
This is a dark story. It opens at the conclusion of Ayla’s rape. The author does not pull any punches and I was emotionally spent within the first few pages. This does prove to invest you in Ayla’s fight and hope she can complete the task given to her by the Goddess. Ayla’s companion from her home, Deetra, is devoted to her and wants to protect the new priestess. When Ayla kills the minotaur who raped her, Deetra sends her away and stays to take the blame. Ayla follows the Goddess’s directions and travels to the north to join the Freeman, who can help her in her quest to defeat the minotaurs.
When Ayla meets Alex, she finds the Freeman. But there are only four. Her arrival does not go quietly and the minotaurs find the Freeman’s hiding place. As they flee, the group heads to the arena, where a bull show is starting. This is how the women who kill a minotaur are publicly punished. It is as bad as it sounds. Ayla invokes the Goddess and saves her beloved Deetra from a public and brutal rape and death. The group then rallies the humans in the arena to fight back against the minotaurs.
The characters are strong and developed. The story is stark yet captivating. I have been surprised by this dark story. It is graphic and brutal and I would not recommend it to young or sensitive readers. Ayla feels as though she is cursed to die because women do not survive giving birth to the half man calves. She feels as though she can fight with what life she has left to stop the minotaurs and then reunite with her beloved mother in the abyss. She has a heavy faith that she places fully in the Goddess and allows her to heal injuries and defeat foes much stronger than her. She is willing to give her life with no hesitation. I found myself easily rooting for her, scared for her and proud of her strength.
Deetra believes in Ayla. She loves her and is willing to die to protect her. This brings her favor from the Goddess. When Deetra offers her own life, the Goddess heals her and makes her Ayla’s knight and sworn protector. With the help of the Freeman and the power of the Goddess they take on the masters and those who betray them. Her motivation is never about the Goddess or the slaves though. She loves Ayla and this is what moves her.
There were some surprises along the way that broke my heart and incensed me. But a good book should strike those emotional cords. I will be interested to continue this series when the next book comes out.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
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