"Astraia is just the sort of heroine we need here; she is strong, intelligent, a formidable sword wielder ... In truth, perhaps she is too perfect – but I doubt that will matter to the young readers who will really enjoy this book."
Greek wars with Troy
Having not been a Young Adult for a very long time, I always find it difficult to judge accurately the effect any such book might have on a child or teenager. They will not want luscious descriptions of places, in-depth characterisations, complicated political machinations or beautifully flowing prose, I feel. I also think that what they do want is non-stop action, young heroes and heroines that they can relate to or long to emulate, and plots that are straightforward and easy to follow. In Mr Fitzgerald's Astraia, they have plenty of the latter and little of the former which, for me, is exactly the right balance.
The story begins in modern-day Corfu where Marissa is holidaying with her family. There is a minor accident and Marissa is knocked unconscious. When she awakes she is Astraia, a princess and daughter of King Atreus. The transformation is seamless as Marissa virtually dissolves into Astraia – she becomes Astraia. There are problems; a company of cadets are kidnapped by pirates who are amassing a force, but for what purpose, no one can guess. King Menelaus is demanding support from all the kings for an expedition to Troy which would leave Corfu inadequately protected. Against her father's wishes, Astraia organises a small band of cadets led by her friend Leandros to rescue the captives.
Astraia is just the sort of heroine we need here; she is strong, intelligent, a formidable sword wielder very much in the Xena Warrior Princess mould. In truth, perhaps she is too perfect – but I doubt that will matter to the young readers who will really enjoy this book.
This is a début novel and, for the genre, I believe it ticks all the boxes. There seems to be plenty of scope for Astraia to return, though through Marissa or not is up to the author.
Recommended for young teens and children who love adventure stories
© Richard Tearle
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