Book Tour Review: By Helen's Hand by Amalia Carosella

Monday, June 6, 2016
Title: By Helen's Hand
Author: Amalia Carosella
Genre: historical fiction
Series: Helen of Sparta #2
Pages: 429
Published: May 10 2016
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating:  4/5

With divine beauty comes dangerous power.

Helen believed she could escape her destiny and save her people from utter destruction. After defying her family and betraying her intended husband, she found peace with her beloved Theseus, the king of Athens and son of Poseidon.

But peace did not last long. Cruelly separated from Theseus by the gods, and uncertain whether he will live or die, Helen is forced to return to Sparta. In order to avoid marriage to Menelaus, a powerful prince unhinged by desire, Helen assembles an array of suitors to compete for her hand. As the men circle like vultures, Helen dreams again of war—and of a strange prince, meant to steal her away. Every step she takes to protect herself and her people seems to bring destruction nearer. Without Theseus’s strength to support her, can Helen thwart the gods and stop her nightmare from coming to pass?

I was a big fan of Carosella's historical debut last year, and I am an even bigger one upon finishing her intricate and original duology about Helen of Sparta. With a keen eye for detail and a mind for remembering and adapting ancient mythology, Carosella's grasp on the story is profound and far-reaching. This version of Helen's life remains unique, and entirely of Carosella's creation and fertile imagination. Deftly picking up the threads of Helen's story where Helen of Sparta left off not even a year ago, this sequel and finale is just as intricate, detailed, and well-rendered as its predecessor.

Helen's story is one that has been told for generations and yet Carosella manages to eke out a new plotline and some unexpected twists and turns to keep readers paying attention. The inventiveness of Carosella's adaption of such a well-known mythological figure definitely makes By Helen's Hand a memorable and original read, even for voracious historical fiction readers. Far more than in any other version of her life, Carosella's Helen is an active and engaged character in her own fate. She is not a woman content to be stolen, to be someone's prize, but is instead someone who seeks to exert some small amount of control and happiness in her own life. The end may be foretold by her Gods and their wills, but this is not a woman who does what she is told meekly or without subversion.

Told through possibly a few too many viewpoints, it is Helen's voice and perspective that stand out through a read of Carosella's newest novel. Like I said before for book one, Helen is the motivating force that drives this 430-page novel. She has the most POV chapters and this allows her to shape the story the most, as well.  She is the center on which everything pivots and Carosella handles her characterization evenly and deftly. Some of the other POV voices just don't appear often enough to make much of an impact as narrators. The fact that all perspectives but Helen's are in third person (to her first-person) helps to foster the impression that this is Helen in control of her story, with just a few voices to bring in atmosphere, detail, and other settings. 

The ending for By Helen's Hand is an unexpected one, and yet still fits within the confines of Carosella's own version of Helen's tumultuous life and within previously espoused mythological versions of her legend. I loved the fact that Amalia Carosella reached for these lesser-known inspirations to conclude her Helen's story. It kept the ending from feeling too predicted/known and boring. It definitely was a creative and novel approach for a conclusion; the risks the author took throughout these two novels have made the story indelibly her own and I like that her flair included the finale.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 16
Tour Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, May 17
Review at The Reading Queen

Wednesday, May 18
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, May 19
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Monday, May 23
Review at Creating Herstory

Tuesday, May 24
Review at Book Nerd

Wednesday, May 25
Review at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, May 26
Review at Helen’s Daughter

Wednesday, June 1
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Friday, June 3
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Monday, June 6
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Wednesday, June 8
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, June 16
Review at Impressions In Ink

Friday, June 17
Review at Layered Pages

Monday, June 20
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 22
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, June 24
Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past


  1. Replies
    1. It was a great way to end the duology. I can't wait for Tamer of Horses!


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