Book review: For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

2 Feb

most beautifulThree thousand years ago, a war took place that gave birth to legends – to Achilles, the greatest of the Greeks, and Hector, Prince of Troy. It was a war that shook the very foundations of the world. But what if there was more to this epic conflict? What if there was another, hidden tale of the Trojan War?

Now is the time for the women of Troy to tell their story.

Thrillingly imagined and startlingly original, For The Most Beautiful reveals the true story of Troy for the first time. Krisayis, daughter of the Trojans’ high priest, and Briseis, princess of Pedasus, fight to determine the fate of a city and its people in this ancient time of mischievous gods and mythic heroes.

In this novel full of passion and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, bravery and sacrifice, Emily Hauser breathes exhilarating new life into one of the greatest legends of all – in a tale that has waited millennia to be told.

From the beautiful cover with its gleaming golden apple to the richly detailed descriptions of an ancient world and the wonderfully imagined meddling ways of the gods, For the Most Beautiful is a fabulously original take on the story of the Iliad. Emily Hauser takes the women of Troy; women who are mentioned briefly or as background characters in the original text and breathes life into them, weaving a tale of love, loss, war and bravery that I thoroughly enjoyed.

For the Most Beautiful is the story of teenage Krisayis, daughter of the High Priest of Troy whose father has a very different plan for her future than the one she imagines for herself. It’s also the story of Briseis, a princess who has her own fight against a deadly prophecy.

Emily Hauser has created two headstrong and engaging female leads for her story and given them clear voices to tell their sides of the story. This is the first time I’ve been truly caught up in a work of fiction that examines the Trojan war and with this book, I think Emily will open up this area of history and legend to a whole new audience.

The descriptions are rich and sumptuous and as someone who has studied a tiny bit of Mycenaean archaeology and has always been fascinated by Greek legends the story, despite its mythology and elements of fantasy felt believable to me! The colours and descriptions of clothing, treasures and locations are vivid; feelings are intense and the Gods are in turn, playful, humorous and downright dangerous!

The story is narrated in turns by Krisayis and Briseis and I was completely caught up in both their plights. From joy and romance, adventure and secrets to their capture and the losses of war, I felt intensely along with them both and the story is written in a very accessible and easily readable way.

A separate narrative following the actions of the Gods is slipped into the story and acts as an excellent device to explain and give different perspectives but also to highlight that the players on the ground are subject to more than their own rivalries, desires and whims. I loved Hauser’s depictions of Gods like Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo and Poseidon  and the drama of their interactions with each other.

This is one of those books that spans readerships. It’s appropriate for adult and young adult readers, it will appeal to fans of historical fiction, romance, paranormal and fantasy (which is probably why I loved it so much.) For the Most Beautiful is an accomplished debut and I was delighted to read that this is just the first book in the Golden Apple trilogy. I can’t wait to read Emily’s next book!

5/5

For the Most Beautiful is out now in hardback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Emily Hauser and her writing at: http://www.emilyhauser.com/ 

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