Friday, December 11, 2015

Dancing In The Athenian Rain by Katie Hamstead

Rating: ★  ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: December 7, 2015

When Donna is sent back in time to Classical Athens, she's furious at Dr. Stephens for sending her against her wishes. Then a Greek soldier purchases her to be his wife. She's forced to learn a new language and culture, and faces her fears of never returning to her own time. The society hates her, especially because they think she’s an Amazon, which forces her to confront her issues—being compared to her genius brother, borderline abusive friends, and a cheating boyfriend. But her husband, Peleus, is kind and patient. Although against her best judgment, she allows him into her heart. He counters all the negative voices from her past, but those voices drive a wedge between them. She must let go of her fears, her inhibitions, and insecurities, and admit her feelings, or she could lose him and the life they’ve built.

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I blame Achilles for my interest in Dancing in the Athenian Rain. There wasn't a direct link as he doesn't appear in the novel, but I'd spent several weeks reading about the Greek hero and was arguably predisposed to the subject matter when I stumbled over the Katie Hamstead's fiction. Unfortunately, the reality of her work didn't hold as much water as Homer's and I spent most of my reading annoyed with the author's presentation.

In terms of writing and tone, I feel Dancing in the Athenian Rain is best characterized as young adult lit. There is no depth to the narrative, the language is simple, and the vocabulary elementary. That wouldn't be a problem if the novel were marketed within the genre, but as it stands, the novel is pitched as new adult lit and I'd gone into it expecting much more mature prose, more complex characterizations, and deeper thematic material. I am part of the target age group and this held absolutely no appeal for me.

Hamstead tells more than she shows which likely factors in my struggle to appreciate her approach. There is very little atmospheric detail in Donna's story and I couldn't visualize the world as she saw it. There are plot holes left and right and I often found myself shaking my head over the ridiculous nature of the situational drama facing Hamstead's cast. 

Donna and Peleus bored me to tears, Dr. Stephens read like a poor imitation of Doc Brown, and I found the romantic story contrived and coincidental. Ultimately I feel the book wasn't worth the time I spent with it and I don't see myself recommending it forward. 

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As I reach the door, I can't contain my emotions anymore and break into sobs. Peleus grabs me and holds me against him. I cry into his chest as he strokes my back. His embrace soothes me, despite everything. His strong arms provide a sense of safety, his broad chest a comforting place to let my tears fall. I cling to him, yearning for relief from the feelings of loss, fear of never going home, of being stuck in this place where everyone wants to destroy me
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