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Monday, August 17, 2015

Keepers of the Labyrinth by Erin E. Moulton {review, interview, giveaway}


I'm so excited to be sharing my review of Erin E. Moulton's awesome YA book, Keepers of the Labyrinth, with y'all today! Plus, Erin stops by to discuss her new book and you have the chance to win a copy...


Keepers of the Labyrinth
(book one)
by Erin E. Moulton
August 25, 2015
Philomel/Penguin
Courage is tested, myths come to life, and long-held secrets are revealed

Lilith Bennette runs at midnight. She scales walls in the dark and climbs without a harness. She hopes that if she follows exactly in the steps of her strong air force pilot mother, she’ll somehow figure out the mystery of her mother’s death—and the reason why her necklace of Greek symbols has been missing ever since.

So when Lil is invited to Crete for a Future Leaders International conference, the same conference her mom attended years ago, she jumps at the chance to find some answers. But things in Melios Manor are not what they seem. Lil finds herself ensnared in an adventure of mythological proportions that leads her and her friends through the very labyrinth in which the real Minotaur was imprisoned. And they’re not in there alone. What secrets does the labyrinth hold, and will they help Lil find the truth about her mother?

This book is perfect for older fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus--and anyone who wants to find out the true story behind the magic of the Greek gods.

Praise for KEEPERS OF THE LABYRINTH:


"Secret societies, mythology, and puzzles worthy of a Dan Brown novel all figure prominently in this thriller....There is much to recommend this book: all the protagonists are empowered female characters, it explores the idea that behind the stories of classical Greek mythology is a history of real people, and it is filled with exciting action."--VOYA 

"Secret societies, Greek mythology, and a group of strong female characters are all wrapped up in a mystery which will hit the mark with readers who have finished Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series."--School Library Journal

"Greek mythology provides the frame for this exciting amalgam of action, friendship, and girl-detective fiction."--Booklist

watch the book trailer


Lil’s strong, adventurous Air Force pilot mother committed suicide...at least that’s what Lil has been led to believe. Lil wants to be just like her beloved mother and longs for answers. So when she’s invited to attend the Future Leaders International conference in Greece, the same conference her mother attended as a teen, Lil jumps at the opportunity. Once in Greece, Lil quickly discovers that there’s more to Melios Manner, her leader counselors, and her mother’s death. Soon, Lil and and her new friends find themselves traversing the fabled Minotaur's labyrinth and faced with unexpected truths.

Erin Moulton’s Keepers of the Labyrinth is a smartly crafted, excellently plotted, and enthralling book! Moulton fills the pages of Keepers of the Labyrinth with exiting mythology, fascinating science, intriguing history, and breathtaking art. The Greek myths of lore vividly come to life through well researched information, clever plot twists, and fierce imagination. Both fans of Greek mythology and those new to the subject will appreciate and be captivated by the world the author has created. Beautiful, mysterious Melios Manor, and the wicked cool labyrinth beneath it, make for beguiling and fun settings.

I love that Keepers of the Labyrinth is all about the girl power and features four strong, capable, and unique heroines. Lil, and her new friends Charlie, Kat, and Sydney, each bring something worthy and vital to the story. From brave Lil to witty Charlie, passionate Kat, and clever Sydney, these are memorable, complex characters that readers will respect and root for. Moulton wonderfully shows that girls can have thrilling adventures, get dirty, kick butt, and save the day and themselves! There are no romantic elements or pairings in Keepers of the Labyrinth, with the author choosing to focus on the relationship and bond between the four heroines...which I found so refreshing!

Moulton takes both her characters and readers on a breathless, twisty ride through the dangerous and surprising labyrinth. Our heroines come face to face with real life myths, deadly obstacles, and mind bending riddles, all while being chased by a crazy religious cult...needless to say, readers will be entirely consumed by the action and twists!

my final thoughts: Myths brought to life, secret societies, awesome heroines, and sparkling storytelling...Keepers of the Labyrinth has all this and more! A definite must read!!

MY RATING
5/5 yummy cupcakes

What three words best describe your book, Keepers of the Labyrinth?
Mysterious, ancient, dangerous.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers to give Keepers of the Labyrinth a try?
Lil Bennette attends a future leaders conference in Greece as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother’s death, but she soon finds herself in a deadly labyrinth—and on an adventure of mythological proportions!

Grab a copy of Keepers of the Labyrinth and answer the following:
favorite chapter? Chapter 44. A lot gets revealed.
favorite page? 115
favorite setting? The Daedalus Chamber
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
P. 144
Follow to the Minotaur, son of Minos, full of lore.
Choose right and walk this way, or accept your death today.

Where did the idea for Keepers of the Labyrinth come from? How did the story come to be?
I don’t always remember where the story ideas originate from, but this beginning is clear as day to me. Being in my head is like standing in the middle of a coffee shop. The murmuring is sort of white-noise until you hear little fragments of conversation above the rest. That is how Keepers arrived. I was sitting on the floor, petting the dog, and a fragment—a line—managed to rise above the din. It said, “The Daughters of Ariadne.” And I literally tilted my head and said. “What’s that now?” But I’d heard it and wondered what the heck I was thinking. I tried to remember who Ariadne was. I couldn’t. So, of course, I started digging. I did a lot of digging. The thing about myths, though, is that they have been retold and retold and retold so many times, it is difficult to know what sources to trust, but I was able to hone in on Crete. And from there, I discovered the Minoans. And from there, I emailed a Professor at BU and he gave me some great archaeological resource ideas. And from there, I bought a plane ticket. And from there, well, I followed the thread, so to speak.  

Did you have to do a lot of research on myths and lore when writing Keepers of the Labyrinth? Do you have a favorite mythical story and/or character?
I did a ton of reading in both mythology and Archaelogy. My favorite mythographers ended up being Appollodorous and Ovid. And my favorite archaeology text on the Minoans was Minoans by Lesley Fitton. Very accessible. The research fed my imagination.
My favorite characters..well, I grew very fond of all of the mythological underdogs on Crete, but especially Ariadne and Daedalus. Ariadne because I felt like there were huge chunks of her story missing and that left me with a sense of yearning. And Daedalus, because of his tragedy. Of course, he has the tragedy of losing his son, but tragedy follows him as a creator. Everything he creates, or is forced to create seems to sour in his hands. He builds a labyrinth…it becomes a prison. He creates wings…they malfunction and kill his son. His creations lead to destruction.

Keepers of the Labyrinth features four strong, capable heroines: Lil, Sydney, Charlie, and Kat...can you briefly tell us about each girl and what makes them unique?
I could go on and on about them, but I will try to be brief!

The main character is Lilith Bennette. She is a second generation Greek American. Her mom was from Greece, and fell in love with a hippie farmer from Vermont. Lil grew up following in her mother’s footsteps. And her mother moved fast. When we meet Lil, she has lost her mother, to a presumed suicide. But Lil doesn’t believe that her mother would commit suicide. So she runs at midnight. Running at midnight is how she deals with emotions. How she tries grapple with the mystery of her mother’s death. She’s tough, sure-footed, a good leader, but she feels like an outcast in her own town due to her heritage as well as the stigma around the suicide.

Sydney Bennington. Sydney is African Canadian, hailing from Winnipeg. She is a bi-lingual, smart as a whip, engineering-brained gal who values reason above all else. Oh, Sydney is as practical as can be and this can make some of her social interactions a little awkward. But she seriously excels at problem solving and seeing how things go together. Sydney grew up looking after her sister who has epilepsy. She wants to find the cure. Syd is a natural leader as well, but she is a little less diplomatic, so people are prone to mistaking her for bossy. Truth is, they’d be smart to listen to her.

Katrina Andrande: Katrina is half Spanish and half Portuguese and hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her father works at the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo. Staring at those beautiful art installations her whole life has turned Kat into what she is, today. A wonderful, caring, empathetic and passionate artist. She is known for her sketches and for making the kids in the favela smile, (she volunteers at an art program for kids in Paraisopolis). She goes to an international school and is well known for being clever, creative, and supportive.

Charlotte (Charlie) Babineaux is French as far as she knows. She actually doesn’t know who her parents are, so tracking her heritage is a bit of a mystery to her. Charlie is gay, but doesn’t feel the need to vocalize this, as her straight friends hardly seem to feel compelled to explain their sexual orientation to anyone. Why should she feel compelled to explain herself? Charlie speaks French and English. She lives with her foster mom, Margo, who owns a bookshop in a quaint village in France (Villefranche de Conflante). And she has read just about every book there. Every book and then some. A lover of quill pens, metaphors, and stories, Charlie is reliable, deep and has a brain like an archive.

Sorry to go on about them forever. I could say much more, but I don’t think we have that kind of time!   

In addition to the four heroines above, Keepers of the Labyrinth features other strong, unique female characters and there is a real sense of “girl power” throughout the novel...was this something that you planned? How important was it to you to have such complex female characters?
This is a great question! Thanks for asking. I had several main reasons for writing a cast that was primarily female.

First and foremost, we see a lot of boy/girl romance in YA. A LOT. And it’s all good, but you know what? I come from sisters and to be honest, a sisterly connection, whether by blood or by bond, is a very deep thing, worth exploring. (And that’s not to say there can’t be romance in this story, of course. I could see a romance blooming, perhaps, later ;) )

Secondly, the women in the Greek myths are mostly sidenotes. They get abducted, ravaged, smacked around and then we go following along the hero’s story a bit more. I mean, there are exceptions, but the bulk of the narratives are quite disempowering toward the women characters. Think of Europa in the Metamorphoses. She gets abducted by Zeus, who is supposedly, in love with her(or infatuated…or something, I mean, Zeus is a serial rapist, so….). In Ovid’s version, he finds her play area and stakes out near it. UMMMM, yeah, how old is Europa that he is hanging around her play area? Is this just a problem with the translation? Or is Zeus abducting a very young girl? It makes my skin crawl. Because the Greek mythology is so heavily male, and the women have such broken stories I really wanted this retelling to highlight a variety of female characters that could have an empowered connection to the old tales.  

Thirdly, the backstory of the plot simply pointed to an all female cast. In the backstory, the roots of the secret society would have been formed when the Minoans were disappearing and the Mycenaeans were invading. In this scenario, I pictured the women clustering together during this time period, for safety, and finding a way to continue their beliefs in a new world.

Lastly, the beauty of writing a cast so abundantly female is that you have time to explore the various forms of femininity and how it is represented. I have soldiers and artists, engineers and bookish ladies. Ladies that some people mention they keep picturing as boys, but the truth is, they’re girls. This is reality, as I see it. I think, as storytellers, we can be profoundly unoriginal in our representations of masculinity and femininity and I wanted to really stretch and see if I could hit more of the glorious personalities along the spectrum.

Can you give is any tidbits about what’s to come for Lil and the others in future books in this series?
Heck no!
Well, one of them is definitely going to die. Just kidding. Or am I?

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at drinking tea

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I just walked away from my computer but got caught on the cord to the mouse and tripped over that, bruising my ankle against the stool. Don’t let anyone tell you different: Writing is a dangerous job.
.
The last great book I read was Oh heck, I read so many great books! For nonfiction: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. For Middle Grade: Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley and Another Kind of Hurricane by Tamara Ellis Smith.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired Keepers of the Labyrinth, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
The Greeks do something magical with food. I don’t think they eat a lot of cupcakes, so it would have to be like baklava in a cupcake form. Honey and walnuts and filo dough. Flakey and crunchy and sticky and sweet. I would call it Homage to Ariadne.

Thank you SO much for stopping by, Erin!


Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey, Tracing Stars and Chasing the Milky Way, as well as a forthcoming YA, Keepers of the Labyrinth. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, unruly dogs and son.

Win a new hardcover copy of
 Keepers of the Labyrinth!
The awesome folks at Penguin have offered up one hardcover copy for one winner. Plus, since I LOVE this book so much, another winner will get my extra ARC.
DETAILS
-US only
-ends 8/31
-winner #1 will get the hardcover from Penguin 
and winner #2 will get my extra ARC
(please read full list of rule below the rafflecopter form)
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4 comments:

Holly Bryan said...

Oh, I'm so excited to hear about this!! Somehow it's the first time I'm hearing of this book, but that's okay - I'm thrilled and so eager to read it. I'm a mythology story hound - I love reading about it, which probably owes a lot to the four years of Latin in high school! - and I'm so excited to see a take on mythology that HIGHLIGHTS GIRLS. The author eloquently stated how mythology is just not kind to women, generally, featuring them as victims or mere helpmates to men/gods. My 7yo son has been reading the Heroes in Training series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams (which is a great series, and they also have one called Goddess Girls), and he was asking me about Zeus. I explained that he was like the boss of the gods and goddesses, like Head God, and I mentioned that Hera was his wife. He asked if she was the boss of the goddesses, and I admit I was flummoxed! I said, well, not exactly...she was "just" his wife. He didn't quite understand why that didn't make her equal to him in that way, of being a boss (can I pat myself on the back here for having a true partnership with my husband that is apparently serving as a good example??), and I had to tell him that's just the way it was way back then. (He also wondered why Hera and Demeter are in the HiT series but none of the books are actually ABOUT them even though each of the boys has their own story....I said EXCELLENT QUESTION!) Anyway, that's a long way of explaining I'M SO EXCITED to see this story that focuses on such strong young girls and, gasp!, actual strong female FRIENDSHIPS!

I'm so glad I saw this post on your blog and I can't wait to read this myself, as well as to share it with my almost-14yo niece!!! Thanks for the awesome interview, Aiecha, and thanks to the author for such detailed answers!

Sui Generis said...

I admit, I was totally captivated and was eyeing this book when Percy Jackson was mentions since I'd been huge fan eversince. Well that and I also love greek gods and everything that involves mythology. Looking forward to read this book! I think it'll be worth it!

holdenj said...

Looks like a great story and take on Greek myths! Really liked the post!

landofisolatedcreatures said...

Looks like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!