Hetaera by Suzanne Tyrpak

TyrpakHetaeraWhere I Got It: Review copy via the author (thanks!).

Publisher: Adytum (2014)

Narrator: Laura Jennings

Length: 7 hours 42 minutes

Series: Book 1 Agathon’s Daughter

Author’s Page

Set in ancient Athens, this is a mix of mystery and romance. Hestia was born a bastard and has lived a life of servitude as a house slave. Her master, Agathon, reveals certain secrets upon his deathbed. Agathon’s widow, Melaina, sells Hestia to a local slaver. She in turn is bought by a wealthy man, Lycurgus, who was Agathon’s best friend. Toss in a love interest between Hestia and Diodorus, and you have an entertaining Greek soap opera.

I very much enjoyed this book even with its flaws. While the characters and the plot were a bit predictable, it was also easy to get attached to the main characters. Hestia has an intuition about people and is often blunt enough to speak her observations. Some praise her for this and others curse her. While a slave, she doesn’t simply allow life to happen to her. She makes choices throughout the book, some of which put her in danger. She does, at times, seem a bit too innocent. She has been a house slave all her life, but that doesn’t mean that she was kept locked in doors. She could go to the market, chat with other slaves from other households, etc. Despite this tendency towards obliviousness, she was an engaging character.

Diodorus is also a person who makes choices, though he is under a heavy, life-long manipulation by his mother Melaina. She is the villain of this story and I have to say, there are times where she steals the scene. She was an excellent villain to hate! Lycurgus comes off as a secondary character, though he plays a few crucial cards to keep the storyline moving forward. There were a few times that I felt certain events were contrived, were a little too convenient in popping up when they did. There were 2 chance meetings that I felt were unlikely to have happened without the author’s pen pushing them forward. Still, even with that, it was a fun listen.

The setting was a lot of fun too. I definitely felt like the characters were in ancient Athens. There were plenty of references to clothing, social customs, government policies, and food from that time period. The setting itself was so well done it was a character itself. Over all, I very much enjoyed this book. If Suzanne Tyrpak is this good today, imagine how refined and entertaining her stories will be in the future.

Narration: Laura Jennings was an excellent pick for this story. She made Hestia come to life. I have to say that her performances as Melania were excellent too. She also had a range of male voices which made it easy for the listener to keep all the characters separate.

What I Liked:  The setting; the main character (Hestia); Melania was an excellent villain; the ending (definitely ready for a second installment!). 

What I Disliked: There were a few points where the plot felt contrived; Hestia was occasionally too innocent; I don’t dislike the cover, but I don’t feel that it encompasses all the awesomeness of this book.

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