Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dark of the Moon Release! and a giveaway

My nineteenth book for young readers, Dark of the Moon, released this week!

In my post of September 7, I blogged about hiring a publicist (see post titled "Now it Really *is* a BusinessEek!"). She got to work right away, and together we hammered out a press release. She told me to focus on the tagline (omitted on the image above, as it's so small it looks like a blur): "The myth of the Minotaur as it has never been told before." She asked me, "What do you mean, 'as it's never been told before'? What's so different about the way you told it?"

We went back and forth a few times, and here's what we came up with:

When ancient Greek travelers returned home from visiting the powerful island of Crete, whose citizens worshipped a god in the form of a bull and whose priest wore a bull costume during rituals, they garbled the facts and came up with the marvelous story of the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull who devoured human children. Their inaccurate but exciting retelling of Minoan beliefs gave the world one of its most popular myths. Now, Tracy Barrett, a specialist in historical fiction set in the ancient Mediterranean, reimagines the shadowy world that gave birth to the legend.

Barrett imagines the world of the Minoan civilization, where the moon goddess rules and where a deformed and nearly mindless man, confined under the palace for his own and others’ safety, is feared as a monster. Feared by everyone, that is, except his beloved sister Ariadne, and eventually, Prince Theseus of Athens, who has been sent to kill him.

Told in alternating points of view by Ariadne, a lonely teenager who is also priestess of the moon, and Theseus, who has rediscovered his father only to be sent by him to almost certain death, Dark of the Moon (Harcourt Children’s Books, releasing September, 2011) explores the issues of love, faith, and betrayal, retelling the myth of the Minotaur as never before.

The two narrators face issues that today’s teenagers can recognize. Ariadne must decide what her obligations are toward her heritage and her religion. Theseus must discover how much he owes his absent father, his neglectful mother, and his kind stepfather.

Like Barrett’s King of Ithaka, a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey from the point of view of Odysseus’s son Telemachos (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, 2010; starred review, School Library Journal), Dark of the Moon explores the nature of love, family, belief, and responsibility in a way that resonates with young readers today. Both books are rich in accurate historical detail and intriguing characters, and both explore the issue of how tales are created. 

Dark of the Moon has received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which calls it a “world and story both excitingly alien and pleasingly familiar.School Library Journal says,This retelling of the myth of the Minotaur is deft, dark, and enthralling,” and Publishers Weekly asserts, “Barrett offers clever commentary on the spread of gossip and an intriguing matriarchal version of the story. Fans of Greek mythology should appreciate this edgier twist on one of its most familiar tales.”

So, what do you think? Does it work?

Complete reviews, if you're interested, are on my website.

And here's the giveaway: I'd love to read your comments! I'll send a signed (or unsigned, if you prefer) copy of Dark of the Moon to someone chosen at random from among those who comment on this post over the next week.


  1. It absolutely works! And what an astute question on her part! :) e

  2. Excellent. And I love how you guys brought it back to how today's teens could relate to the protagonists!

  3. Great press release. I'm intrigued, drawn in and really hope I win this book. King of Ithaka sounds great too.
    Congratulations on the release and the starred review, Tracy!

  4. you've got me very intrigued to read this. Love the book cover design by the way.

  5. Tracy,

    Your books sounds so great. Can't wait to read it. I, too, love the idea of a matriarchal version of the minotaur story.

  6. Does it work? Does it ever! On many levels:
    - Elicits a "must-know-more" response as it sums up the story's promise.
    - Establishes you as an expert in reimagining mythical stories.
    - Made you focus on what you accomplished and how you intended it to appeal to your readers.
    - Ties this book to your previous one--a two-for-the-price-of-one bonus.
    - Hints at some of the story's larger issues -- spreading gossip, trust and betrayal.
    Am I right? IMHO your publicist has done well by you. Congratulations--especially on the good reviews!
    Jan Works

  7. And the winner is . . . Dana! Dana, please send me your mailing address and I'll get it winging across the ocean.