A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Actual Rating: 2.5
I'm a big fan of Greece and Egyptian stories. I love learning about the culture and ancient times in those fascinating and colorful countries. This is what attracted me about reading Hetaera: Daughter of the Gods the most. Although I heard it was the "original" Cinderella story; I wasn't too sure what that meant because as much as I love historical fiction, I don't know that much history.
I had a difficult time getting into the story. In the beginning, Doricha is a child but she's narrating the story. The thing is, the narration wasn't like from a 10 year old, or even most 20 year olds; it was very complex. There were many times I had to look up complicated words that were coming from a child's subconscious. It really only bothered me in the beginning-- although throughout the story it was difficult to gauge the age of Dori. The narration did gain a lot of smoothness about 1/3 of the way in; and from then on I didn't have a problem with it and easily slipped into the story.
Doricha had a really tough life. I feel I really need to remark upon the sadness of the story. I tend to stay away from stories that are super sad and that don't have many positive events/outcomes or happiness filtered throughout. Its not that stories like that are not good; its that i need to mentally sort of prepare myself for them. If not I feel like I get sucker-punched. Unfortunately, Hetaera was one of those stories. I was so sad and felt so bereft on Doricha's life journey I had to take breaks of several days at a time and force
myself to go back to the story. It was very difficult to do. Bad things happened to her, she as miserable...and then she got even more miserable. I need positivity! I need happiness! Even just a "life sucks, and it's hard but a tiny moment of sunshine redeems all" would've been great. Alas, I did not get any happiness until the end. By end I mean literally the last 3% of the book. So for 97% of the book I mostly felt frustrated, miserable, sad, lonely, and angry at/with Doricha/Rhodopis.
I did love the character building. Aesop was so awesomely written and I loved him. But then, when Doricha responded to his offer in the way she did I wanted to slap her face! What was wrong with her? Why couldn't she just try to be happy and how could you be angry at someone who is your friend but says he loves you?! WTF, girl. Seriously. Don't even get me started on her idiotic behavior with her master.
I feel like I learned a lot about history, without it being shoved down my throat. This was a big plus. I loved learning about Egypt and I felt I could picture the surroundings so vividly. The imagery was just amazing. I think this is important too because (at least for me) I know so little about that period of Egyptian history / Greek history that it was refreshing to feel included. I very easily could've felt left out with this historical details, but I didn't.
The ending redeemed the book in my eyes, but it was still too depressing for me. It was an excellent story, full of picture perfect details. The beginning was rocky, but the story picked up and left me increasingly engaged and invested in the characters. I recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction, Egyptian and Greek stories, strong female characters, and historical romance lovers.