Artemis Rising by Cheri Lasota

Torn between her father's Catholicism and her mother's Pagan beliefs, Eva finally chooses Paganism. She accepts the name of Arethusa but learns too late that her life will mir­ror the Greek nymph's tragic fate. When they sail to the Azores Islands, her mother tells her that her des­tiny rests with Diogo, the ship owner's son. But Eva sees a vision of another…

When the ship founders off the Azores, Tristan, a young Azorean, saves her. Destined to be with Diogo yet aching for Tristan's for­bid­den love, Eva must some­how choose between them, or fate will soon choose for her.

This book, set in the Azores Islands, is a tale of myth, lust, treachery and love after adversity. Although it was gripping in parts I never found myself enjoying the journey. The story begins in New England with Eva and her mother celebrating a pagan ritual to the goddess Artemis, where Eva will get her new name Arethusa (named after the Artemis nymph) whilst the ritual is happening, Eva’s father finds them and gets very angry as the story is set in 1893, a time when Christianity is the dominant religion and people are afraid of the unknown.

After Eva becomes Arethusa, she is set on a course of misery as she has been raised by her mother to believe that her destiny is entwined with the myth of Arethusa who is finally taken by the river god Alpheus against her will. Her mother believes this so strongly that as an impressionable teenager there is no way that Arethusa could not believe it as well.

Misfortune follows after the ship they are sailing on is destroyed with only a few sailors left, one being Diogo Cheia, the son of the ship owner, who has taken it into his head that he is Alpheus and Arethusa is his, which leads to the road of torment and anguish for Arethusa the other survivor. Arethusa is washed to shore and rescued by Tristao, an orphan who takes her to the orphanage he lives in.

With Tristao and Diogo both fighting over Arethusa, and she beginning to realise that the destiny she has envisioned may not be the destiny she is willing to give into, we are taken into the world of an Azores run by Freemason’s who have banned education so that people are not taught to read or write and religion is frowned upon. Into this world Arethusa has to struggle to survive, learn who to trust and what to fight for, whilst discovering what she believes in and how dangerous myths can be.

What I found interesting is that why she is so ready to believe in myths and legends that do not originate with the Azorean’s, she is surprised when she hears someone else tell the story of Tristan and Isolde, wondering how he could know this story that she has taken to her heart? Maybe it is part of the world they lived in where education and travel were not widely available to the masses.

Unfortunately, even though the story was not badly written, I found that it was lacking in places, as to why she never tries to explain the full situation to anyone and that she could allow herself to be so misunderstood by people who care for her, made the story far more frustrating than in should have been.

6/10 Although it was gripping in parts I never found myself enjoying the journey.

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