The double axe by Philip Womack

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Blood and fire Bk 1. Alma Books, 2016. ISBN 9781846883903
(Age: 11+) Minotaur. Greek mythology. Fantasy. Mythical creatures. Crete - History. Princes and princesses. Philip Womack's The double axe is an adaptation of the famous Greek legend of the Minotaur. His thirteen-year-old protagonist Prince Stephan is caught up in the evil conspiracy that threatens to kill the royal household of Crete. The author's choice to rework the narrative and change the hero is an interesting plot device. Instead of Prince Theseus of Athens defeating the Minotaur and escaping the labyrinth utilising Princess Ariadne's trail of thread, now we explore the coming of age story from Stephan the Prince regent's point of view as the royal family is exposed to the evil forces that surround them. For lovers of the original myth this can be disconcerting.
Womack's narrative shows a depth of understanding about the daily life in the palace, the structure of the royal household, the food and feasts, weapons and hunting and relationships between the masters and servants. The rituals of the priestesses, the reliance on the Mother Goddess, the importance of religious customs, even the sacrifices of six teenagers is told grippingly and brings an insight into the evil machinations of mad priestess Myrrah. The sinister forces at play demand much of Prince Stephan and his older sister, Princess Ari. The way these characters rely upon each is pivotal to the plot, each has complementary strengths the other needs to battle the evil forces.
This is a dark tale more suited to an older reader who enjoys historical fiction.
Rhyllis Bignell