Juno, Jun 2007, $12.95
In Ancient Rome, Praetor Scipio Hispallus wants fame more than power, but what little he has of both is threatened by Daedalus the slave he freed. Daedalus intimates to his former owner that he will reveal to all of Rome that Hispallus’ estranged wife belongs to the banned sect of Bacchus, god of wine and fertility unless he funds the building of an ostentatious bridge. Hispallus panics as he lacks the money needed to appease Daedalus.
An astrologer who is in Hispallus’ home to ask a favor tells him of a foreign women Euryale who is offering a fortune to the person who can answer her question: “What can change stone into living flesh”? Hispallus goes to Euryace’s home hoping she will fund the bridge, but finds her and her household odd. Her face is totally covered and her hair is bound up so that he cannot see her anything above the neck. Her servants and slaves are blind. She agrees to fund the bridge if she fails to obtain an answer to her question as she is a warm hearted caring person living with a curse from Athena; if people realize what she is, her life will be forfeited.
Kara Dalkey writes a fascinating tale of what happens to a woman cursed by a goddess several centuries earlier. EURYALE is a complex compassionate woman unlike the character portrayed in mythology. Readers will admire her courage and root for her to find a man who can see her through the eyes of love. Hispallus is a much simpler protagonist easy to understand as he seeks acclaim but lacks the wit to do so; he affirms the Peter Principle in Ancient Rome.