Review Blog

Jul 11 2013

Murder at Mykenai by Catherine Mayo

cover image

Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781922077943.
(Age 14 +) Recommended. This is a vibrant and credible historical novel for teens. It recreates the atmosphere of Ancient Greece with all the brutality, violence and political intrigue that would have belonged to the era. And in a move that will delight teenage readers, the main characters in this novel are teenagers themselves, albeit teenagers whose names will be familiar with anyone who has a passing interest in Ancient times.
The young Odysseus in this novel is adventurous and daring, quick to act on his own desires but also smart enough to know how best to plot and plan and manipulate others into doing his bidding.Whilst on a visit to Mykenai with his father, Odysseus befriends the shy Menelaos, second son to the King. However, when this king is brutally killed, Menelaos and his brother, Agamemnon must flee for their lives and it is some months before the friends meet again. At this meeting it is clear to Odysseus that young Menelaos is a shadow of his former self, however, with political plotting hinged on a delicate balance, Odysseus finds that he must take great care when trying to help his friend.
Whilst young readers will enjoy the action and adventure and the historical feel of this book, teachers and librarians should be aware that the subject of rape becomes a strong driver of plot and character in the second half of the novel. Although this is handled sensitively by the author and it is mentioned after the event rather than described in detail, the inclusion of this theme may make the novel more suited to mature readers.
Deborah Marshall

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