When Cressida discovers she is pregnant, her overwhelming fear is that she will pass on her father’s violent DNA. It takes an ancient matriarchal culture to teach her otherwise. Dancing the Labyrinth moves between contemporary and ancient Crete in this tale of a young woman from an abusive background who discovers the veiled history of Europe’s most advanced civilization of the Bronze Age – the Minoans.
Plot/Idea: Martin's dreamy, esoteric book of female empowerment, maternal love, and overcoming abuse is dark, breathtaking, painful, and lovely, all at once. With the interwoven settings of present-day and ancient Crete, the reader will be immersed in an otherworldly tale saturated in femininity.
Prose: Keeping with its surreal quality, Martin's prose is melodious and lilting. She does not shy away from the grotesque, often supplying the reader with difficult-to-process imagery, coupled with the inherent beauty of the Grecian island on which the book takes place. Martin is able to harness complex emotions within a few sentences.
Originality: Dancing the Labyrinth is strange, beautiful, and riddled with pain and growth. The blending of past and present, myth and reality, feeling and concrete experience, makes for a highly unique read.
Character Development/Execution: Martin is excellent at writing heroines, lending a statuesque beauty to the women about which she writes. The men often seem to be caricatures of toxic masculinity, but overall the book is pretty to behold and moving to read.
Date Submitted: April 04, 2022
Plot: Hopping between current day and ancient Greece, the story of Cressida’s young adulthood and pregnancy mirror those of ancient Minoan women. The narrative is fluid, polished, and creative, despite using elaborate myth as its foundation.
Prose: Martin’s beautiful prose is amplified by detailed description of location and emotion throughout this consistent and creative story of women in the present day and ancient Crete. A blend of the Greek language is interspersed, helping keep the reader fully engaged with an authentic feel.
Originality: Dancing the Labyrinth is a brilliant illustration of an exploration in feminism and a journey through trauma. Knowledge of Greek mythology is not necessary to understanding the plot; all readers can greatly enjoy the immersion into myth and imagination.
Character/Execution: Cressida and her backstory are fully formed, both of which draw the reader straight into the pain and exploration she faces. Secondary characters serve as much importance to the story and overarching meaning; women are connected to one another across time and cultures. The development of Angela, Pythia, Ashtar, and Lydia are auxiliary, but directly linked to that of Cressida’s. Cressida and her confidants will help many readers with their own sojourn.
Blurb: This novel is sure to open minds to past, present, and future understanding of acceptance and healing, while imploring exploration into ancient and current meanings of femininity and belonging.
Date Submitted: August 07, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has left with so much!
Reviewed in the United States on October 30, 2021
It is hard and honoring to review a book with such a big charge.
This is the story of Cressida, a young girl who moves for a summer on a Greek island, to escape the memories of her violent father and her never protective mother. Her journey starts just as she finds out she is pregnant, however, by no means is her journey than linear. Her path intertwines with an experience she has, the woman she befriends, and the visions she has of the last women to protect the cult of the Great Mother.
I was attracted to this book because of the labyrinth, I imagined there would be some sort of Ariadne connection but this was so much more. A great gamble of shading light on the cult of Great Mother, the last days of the matriarchy and how patriarchy emerged to take its place and how all reverberated to this day.
Like Angela's ways, it is all pictured in deep brushes, the visions are felt very powerfully by Cressida and their magnitude is the same. Strong, earthshattering moments well balanced with mundane scenes where our modern heroines try to make sense of them. There is an economy of details and the scenes are almost theatrical, the authors experience in this domain is obvious in the structure constructed.
While you can read this book as simply a narration (and there may be some rituals and ideas that can be triggering, so be advised), I believe its power dwells in the past world it portrays and the bridge between the worlds it builds. On many accounts the story hit close home, and I believe Cressida and Angela's lives are very relatable. Also, I loved finding pieces of mysteries, Maria Gimbutas and ho'oponopono embodied in these pages. They just warmed my heart like meeting old friends. I cannot wait to see how the next story will take form!
I thinks this is the kind of book that finds you where y0u're at. So it if finds you, answer its call.
Dancing the Labyrinth by Karen Martin is a story filled with myths, legends, and goddesses. Karen has woven a tale of the past connecting flawlessly with the future by covering the bridge with a vision of the priestess. Dancing the Labyrinth is a story that makes you question your beliefs. I love tales which makes you broaden your horizons and forces you to see and experience something different, something that changes your perspective. Cressida, whose life changed when she arrived in her dream country of Greece, stumbling into a tomb where she experienced the parallels of the world, the past and the future. The experience was divine, yet gruesome.
Author Karen Martin describes the existence of a matriarchal society. Many religions claim it to be true, but Karen captures the essence of it. The transition that shifted society to a patriarchal and violent nature, the story tells this perspective through Pythia, Ashtar and Lydia. The Priestesses, the embodiment of the Mother, the Goddess. It’s a tale of time, conveyed to Cressida through her dreams. But the story doesn’t stop here. Instead, with the help of Angela, Cressida tries to understand and to decipher what happened to the civilization, the existence of the tomb. It is a harrowing story. With the suffering inflicted upon women, to the modern world. Greek mythology is famous all over the world, but the perspective on it in this book is unique and intriguing.
The story continuously switches writing styles. The book starts casually and with contemporary language and then switches to old an older writing style. Along with this we also get switches in point of views. The story is also filled with Greek myth references that will definitely appeal to readers who are familiar with the mythology.
Dancing the Labyrinth was a rewarding experience. I love a story where mythology meets science and the premise was refreshing and made for a riveting read."
To express one’s immense love for a topos, in Karen Martin’s case, her beloved island of Crete, is one thing. To distil that love into a complex, multi-faceted narrative that skilfully melds past and present, in order to negotiate a labyrinth of persistent gender-equality issues that have dogged our social development down the centuries in a tenable and strident but not polemical manner, is quite another. In choosing to release her book in a dual English and Greek form, the author suggests to us that while historical, linguistic and social considerations may combine to shape diverse understandings and discourses of the issues affecting women in a world that still does not treat them as equals, fundamentally, there is unity in the way in which women draw upon the past wisdom and experience of those who came before them, regardless of how these are mediated, and upon each others’ strength in order to assert and claim the place that rightfully belongs to them. As such, “Dancing the Labyrinth” is a powerful and profound celebration of women’s resilience, courage and indomitability.
Cressida is a young woman who visits the beautiful Greek Island of Crete to escape her troubled past, but her life takes an unexpected turn when she discovers she is pregnant. Now, Cressida fears that her father’s abusive traits and her mother’s dismissive, uncaring nature would pass down to her child. However, in her quest for answers and meaning, she uncovers the history of the Minoans —the most advanced civilization from the Bronze Age. Through the hidden history of Europe, she unveils ancient traditions and the shift from matriarchy to a patriarchal society. Learning from the wisdom of these women of the past and ingraining changes in her current life is the only way forward for Cressida.
Dancing the Labyrinth by Karen Martin is a tale that highlights how past experiences of women have shaped the current dynamics of the world and led to the most recent #MeToo and #EnoughIsEnough movements on digital platforms. It brings the inequalities and injustices that women have faced through the centuries to the forefront and gives a message of tranquility, unity, and the collective efforts required for a positive change in society.
Today’s generation has much to learn from the current and ancient meanings of belonging and femininity and Karen Martin brings this message to readers with superior writing and storytelling that is not just strong but fascinating. She creates a protagonist that readers will love; she is genuinely flawed, resilient, and an embodiment of the frustrations and pains that most women have carried with them over centuries. The deeply rooted problems of the current dynamics are explored through a painful journey of the leading and secondary characters that are fully drawn and unforgettable.