“The Door in the Mountain” by Caitlin Sweet is another book for the ChiTeen imprint of ChiZine Publications but this one looked like it was going to be something completely different than my first venture into the imprint. With the somewhat sinister minotaur on the cover, this looked like it could be a much darker book than “Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly” as well as one that is grounded in Greek mythology. As with any ChiZine book, I was eager to dig in.
Ariadne live in the world of ancient Crete in which the legends have come to life. The people are favored by the gods and every member of Ariadne’s family has the mark of a god that gives a special power. Everyone has a god mark, that is, except for Ariadne. This turns her into a very bitter person who is always looking for a way in which to get revenge on those around her for receiving a god’s blessing when she was left out. Her chance comes when King Minos son is killed and it is only right for him to demand retribution.
Ariadne quickly acts to ensure that she will be in control of the situation. Minos demands a tribute of human sacrifices for his son’s death. Ariadne’s brother, Asterion, had the ability to turn into a bull but he has no control over the power. Minos decrees that the young sent to be his sacrifice will be put in a maze to be hunted by Asterion, who is now known as the Minotaur. All seems to be going well for Ariadne. She has the king under her thumb and her brother locked away. Things are not always as they seem.
The first thing that I will say about “The Door in the Mountain” is that it is very well written. Sweet goes into lavish detail when describing the characters and setting as well as in correlating the events of the story with their mythological precedents. There is a strong focus on imagery that makes the story almost come alive as the reader can easily imaging being in the fictional world that she creates. Unfortunately, all of this lavish detail is ultimately a detriment to the actual story as there really is very little that happens in the story and the action almost seems like an afterthought. There were times in the story when I just wanted something to happen only but the story continued to amble along at a snail’s pace. This book is rich in writing but I thought that it was missing the element of strong storytelling that would have made it a compelling read.
“The Door in the Mountain” is a good book that I think may appeal to others more than it did to me. It is also the first in a series and I have a feeling that the next book may be better than this one. There was definitely too much time spent on trying to form the characters and place them in the mythology and this is something that should not be needed in the next book which will allow it to flow much easier. I also think that this is a strange pick to be printed under the ChiTeen imprint as I really don’t see this as a book for younger readers. This is a very dark book full of some very nasty people and filled with dark and brooding themes that I found myself get lost in at times and I would imagine it would be difficult for some younger readers to follow the string of the story. While I did not dislike the book per se, I did not enjoy it as much as I have come to expect from a ChiZine novel. Since the book is so well written, I would expect it to appeal to other readers more than me as just a function of personal preference and would not discourage anyone from giving it a read. I will, in fact, pick up the sequel once it is released to see where the story will lead.
I would like to thank ChiTeen and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “The Door in the Mountain” is scheduled to be released by ChiTeen in October.