(Review) Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella

Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Formats: Available in eBook, Paperback

Reviewed Format: Paperback
ISBN-10: 1477821384

Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Source: Free copy from Amalia Carosella and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for a review. 
Rating: 4 stars for very good. I was torn between giving it a 3 or 4.   
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Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.
A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

My Thoughts: 
I had never been interested in Greek Mythology until a couple of years ago when I read: The Odyssey, Troilus and Cressida, and The Oracles of Troy.   I now have a strong interest in this type of story and was delighted to read Helen of Sparta. 
Helen of Sparta is the type of book where I have likes and dislikes, I'll use bullet points to address my thoughts. 


  • Helen has a voice and a tangible personality. Even in the movie Troy. Helen had a role but did not show her true character. In Helen of Sparta she is a person with insecurities and fears, but she can also be bold and decisive. She is intelligent and passionate. She is both strong and weak (just as all humans are.) However, she is a demi-god. She is the daughter of a god and a human. Her "gifts" are beauty and dreams or visions. 
  • Helen of Sparta kept my attention and I read the story in 48 hours. Helen is a character that I felt an investment in her outcome. Even though there were elements I did not like in the story, Helen held my interest until the last page. 
  • The odd relationship between gods and humans. Zeus, Poseidon, Athena make appearances or they are talked about in conversation. The offerings and sacrifices to the gods are done with the hope of answered prayers and gifts or blessings. The gods "give" depending on what they receive in return or what kind of mood they are in. I liked this point because it was eye-opening to the religious belief system of this era. I was also saddened by this point, because it showed me their gods were unmerciful, vengeful, and not trustworthy. 
  • Helen's beauty is a theme that runs through the story. People are either drawn to her beauty, or they hate her beauty. It is her beauty that people notice first, and it maybe the only thing they notice, because many of the characters do not care about Helen, they care only for what they can benefit. I wondered if any other readers picked up on this "teaching lesson" in the story?
  • Helen of Sparta is a story where people are polar opposite: either good or bad, beautiful or ugly, masculine or feminine, violent or sensual (and sometimes it's hard to distinguish.) It is a larger than "earthly life" type of story.   
  • Helen's age. She had just began the monthly flow 6 months previously, this would place her in the 12 to 14 range of age. In this era it was common for girls to marry young. But, this does not mean they are mature physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some girls will be more knowledgeable and wise than others. But I don't care what era it is, a young girl is a young girl, because of the lack of life experiences and life skills not acquired yet. Plus, their brain and body is not an adult. Further, there may be a curiosity about sex, but not the maturity to fully have sexual intercourse as a mature and enjoyable act. I wondered. If Helen let's say is 13, how tall would she be and how much would she weigh? Pair her with a grizzly, machismo, battle-hardened man. A sex scene between a child and an adult is just bad. I believe it would have been better to make Helen's age at least 17 or 18. This point is difficult to review because I'm torn between my moral beliefs and reviewing a story on its own merit. However, it is distracting to read a story where abuse happens. After all I do have an opinion. Some questions I asked myself: Is the scene believable? Was it well-written? Did it contribute to the whole of the story? No, yes, and yes. My no answer is that I did not feel the sex scene in the early part of the story was believable, because it was unclear. Did she dislike it or did she like it? This is a question I'd rather not elaborate on anymore. 
  • Several immoral comments are made in the book in regards to women. I especially disliked one reference in regards to an innuendo about siblings. Yuck. 
  • The ending alludes to a sequel. I caught this. It seems several reviewers have not. I think it would be good to state this in the book. 
Overall I liked the book. Yes, there were certain places that I disliked, which I hope I've answered in the above review. 

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About the Author

Amalia Carosella graduated from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors degree in Classical Studies and English. An avid reader and former bookseller, she writes about old heroes and older gods. She lives with her husband in upstate New York and dreams of the day she will own goats (and maybe even a horse, too). For more information, visit her blog at www.amaliacarosella.com. She also writes fantasy and paranormal romance as Amalia Dillin.
You can also connect with Amalia on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter here and here.

Helen of Sparta Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, April 1
Review at Unshelfish
Review at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, April 2
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, April 3
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Saturday, April 4
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, April 6
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Tuesday, April 7
Review at leeanna.com
Wednesday, April 8
Review at Historical Reads and Views
Thursday, April 9
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book!
Friday, April 10
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, April 13
Interview at Book Babe
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Obsession
Tuesday, April 14
Review at Forever Ashley
Wednesday, April 15
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, April 16
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, April 17
Review at Impressions in Ink
Saturday, April 18
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Monday, April 20
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, April 21
Review at Broken Teepee
Wednesday, April 22
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

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