Monsters in Myth Book Reviews

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School Library Journal "Series Made Simple," November 2010

On The Sphinx, The Chimaera, Medusa, The Monsters of Hercules, The Sirens, The Cyclopes, The Minotaur, and Cerberus

Tapping into the voracious interest many kids have for monsters in general, this series introduces the varied and fascinating origins of some of the most popular monsters in mythology. Each title begins with a dramatic retelling of a hero's encounter with the creature, and the cliffhanger ending works as a compelling segue into its background. Before returning to the story, each author goes on to provide information on how the monster came to be, variations of it in different cultures, and its appearance in art and modern culture. Each volume is full of colorful, clear illustrations of the beast as interpreted by painters and sculptors. The fluid writing style and the thoroughness with which each monster is covered makes for fun and educational reading. First rate.

Booklist, October 2010

On The Minotaur

The story of the Minotaur is really the story of Theseus, and after an explanation of the beast’s origins (a tastefully described scene wherein Poseidon’s magnificent white bull “spent time” with Minos’ wife, Pasiphae), the bulk of the book follows the great hero’s journey from Athens to the Labyrinth of Crete. Roberts maintains a coherent narrative even as he pauses to consider the variations and contradictions that typify Greek mythology, all well sourced in chapter notes. It’s a fairly text-heavy treatment, so this entry in the Monsters of Myth series might be best for readers with an established interest in mythology. They can get an in-depth look at one of the more iconic tales and gain a foothold in related myths starring Daedelus, Ariadne, Heracles, et al. The book finishes with a thoughtful discussion of the historical and cultural roots and legacy of the Minotaur myth, noting that one shouldn’t put too much stock into the veracity of the legend but rather use it as a “starting point for understanding Minoan civilization,” which is itself a fittingly labyrinthine task.