Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Labyrinth by Alex Beecroft

Kikeru, the child of a priestess at the sacred temple of Knossos in ancient Crete, believes that the goddesses are laughing at him. They expect him to choose whether he is a man or a woman, when he’s both. They expect him to choose whether to be a husband to a wife, or a celibate priestess in the temple, when all he wants to do is invent things and be with the person he loves.

Unfortunately, that person is Rusa, the handsome ship owner who is most decidedly a man and therefore off-limits no matter what he chooses. And did he mention that the goddesses also expect him to avert war with the Greeks?

The Greeks have an army. Kikeru has his mother, Maja, who is pressuring him to give her grandchildren; Jadikira, Rusa’s pregnant daughter; and superstitious Rusa, who is terrified of what the goddesses will think of him being in love with one of their chosen ones.

It’s a tall order to save Crete from conquest, win his love, and keep both halves of himself. Luckily, at least the daemons are on his side.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Alex Beecroft is a new-to-me author.

Labyrinth is a transgender novella set in mythic times, featuring a young man who isn't sure if he wants to be a woman, only because he enjoys the company of his savior, another man. Truth be told, I was hooked from the start, but around the 15% mark, my interest waned.

The beginning had a major hook. Kikeru overheard two Greeks planning to overthrow his king. After choosing confrontation over calling out for help, Kikeru finds himself in an impossible situation – Rusa comes to the rescue.

My issues with the novella are as follows.

One: the overall feeling of the novella was frustration as I read, simply because the characters themselves were so childlike. I don't mean childish. Childlike. Naive. Kikeru's mother decided to dress him as a woman, instead of listening to the fact they were in danger, and instead of putting a stop to it, he continued to allow it. This bled over into the novel itself, where all actions after the fact supported this childlike mentality, doing dangerous things instead of just alerting their king.

Two: I don't feel this is a transgender novella whatsoever. In the mythos of this story, if you are a man who is a lover of other men, then you are a woman. There is no concept of being gay. Kikeru didn't want to be a woman, didn't feel himself to be a woman. Said so many times in fact. His mother dressed him as a woman in the middle of a tirade about him not giving her grandchildren and marrying, so therefore he is female instead. I will not call him 'they' or 'she. Kikeru, he wanted Rusa instead of women, so therefore in his culture, that meant him a female who was to be in service to the goddess.

That is not how being transgender works. If anything, I'd say Kikeru was gender fluid, not transgender whatsoever. Gender fluid while being sexually attracted to men.

Kikeru's need to figure out who he is sexual and gender-wise makes the more important issues take a backseat. It wasn't just Kikeru's longevity at risk by the Greeks, but an entire way of life and all of their people. While the driving force of the novel was an important one, the inner monologue and musings of Kikeru seemed vapid and childish when survival was on the line.

While I appreciate the inventiveness of the premise, the execution of the story didn't work for me.

Truthfully, maybe I'm a demanding audience, because I've only found one gender fluid book that was accurate, as well as one transgender book. While Labyrinth is sure to entertain many, I'm obviously not the target audience.

Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She studied English and philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court, where she worked for a number of years. Now a stay-at-home mum and full-time author, Alex lives with her husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world. She has spent many years as an Anglo-Saxon and eighteenth-century reenactor. She has led a Saxon shield wall into battle, and toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid. For the past seven years she has been taken up with the serious business of morris dancing, which has been going on in the UK for at least five hundred years. But she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Labyrinth by Alex Beecroft to read and review.


  1. I know it's not the done thing to comment on reviews, but in fact Kikeru *is* meant to be genderfluid (and attracted to men.) So if that's how you're reading the character then that's great.

    If the book was tagged as transgender, I think that must only have been because genderfluid and other non-binary identities are sometimes seen as falling under the transgender umbrella. I hope you don't mind - I wouldn't normally comment but I thought it was important to clear that up.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. As a writer myself, I know how difficult it is not to comment on a review, so I understand where you're coming from and sincerely apologize for any frustration you must be feeling. I don't like adding critical comments to a review, and I was worried about how my commentary would be received.

    I feel your pain on how a book will be placed within a classification because what it truly is doesn't exist. I was forced to use 'erotica' when my books were far from that simply because of dark content. There's still no 'dark' classification, other than horror, and horror my books were not. A gray area with no genre.

    I appreciate a gender-fluid character, as I believe with the media attention drawn to transgender, gender-fluid people are left behind. This is also why many would lump your novel into the transgender sub-classification. I fear if a reader was expecting a trans character and received gender-fluid instead, they may be put off. As I said above, I've been there, down-rated on not being 'erotic' enough for the classification I was forced to use on sales sites.

    I wish you luck, and thank you for allowing me to read and review your work.

    1. No problem! I know I can't expect everyone to like my books, and I knew I was trying to do a lot of things at once with this one. I should probably have made it longer so I could give more weight to all the things that needed more attention. Regardless, I wouldn't have said anything at all, but it seemed like a tagging misunderstanding that could easily be put right.

      I know what you mean about being put in the wrong classification! I've spent so long trying to get my books out of being classified as erotica - people have seen they were m/m and put them in there even if there was one sex scene and two hundred pages of naval battles. I'm amazed there's no 'dark' classification! That seems like a necessary thing.

      Anyway, thanks for being so understanding :) Thanks again for the review, and I wish you lots of luck with your books and reviewing alike!


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