Book Review of Helens of Troy sponsored by Bewitching Book Tours
by Janine McCaw
Fifteen year old Goth-chic Ellie has a lot of explaining to do. She’s just moved to the small town of Troy, fought with her uptight mother Helen, met the boy of her dreams and found a dead body on her sexy “new-age” grandmother Helena’s porch. All on the first night!
But Ellie’s not alone. Helen is hiding something. Helen knows all about the kind of eerie dreams her daughter is having — the dreams that show the whereabouts of the missing children of Troy — because she’s had them herself. But she’ll never admit it. Not while Ellie’s sex-crazed friend Ryan is safely behind bars for the murders. Helen knows what it’s like to be attracted to dangerous men.
Then there’s the little matter between Helena and Gaspar BonVillaine, the teenaged vampire who is learning to feed on young prey. Now that he’s caught Ellie, he doesn’t know whether he wants to kill her or turn her to the dark side and keep her forever. Helena should have finished him off when she had the chance.
To survive the vampire feeding frenzy surrounding them, mom Helen needs to come to terms with her own insecurities and deal with the gifts she has. Helena must learn to ground herself for the good of mankind and more importantly her own family. And Ellie has the toughest choice of all. Ellie must decide whether its time to let her own childhood go and become the woman she is destined to be, one of the ageless and timeless “Helens of Troy”.
Author Janine McCaw (Olivia’s Mine, Feb. 2006,) has written this 100,000 word novel, the first in a fantasy series about “the Helens”. The three generations of gatekeepers will take the reader on a trip to a realm mere mortals fear to visit alone, and they’ll make her want to stay a while.
HELENS-OF-TROY is the second novel completed by Janine McCaw. For the Vancouver-based novelist it is the continuation of a dream, and the fruit of years of working in a different creative realm.
McCaw’s deep understanding of compelling plots, widely appealing characters, natural dialogue and strong story arcs comes directly out of her early career in the film and television industry. McCaw’s skills as an observer started early when her family uprooted from the City to small town Ontario – and she became the classic fish out of water. Writing down her thoughts became an outlet as she scribbled her way through childhood, while she also developed her observational skills and visual eye with photography. A die-hard hockey fan, McCaw studied Cinematography at Humber College, and was headed for a career as a cameraperson covering professional sports when she landed an internship in a broadcasting services company.
McCaw excelled in the television distribution arena. She joined Thomas Howe & Associates and moved with that company to Vancouver, where she distinguished herself with her talent for identifying the right product for the right market, and her people-skills in negotiating contracts. After furthering her professional development with several high-profile Canadian entertainment companies, she parlayed her reputation as a leading Cable Programming specialist into her own boutique firm. Formed with a partner, Dark Horse Ent. specialized in finding, and selling, niche Canadian television series - entertainment, information and variety - around the Globe. McCaw also acted as an independent executive producer on award-winning television Classic Car series, CHROME DREAMS, and as a distributor for series including ENTRÉE TO ASIA, and AT HOME WITH HERBS.
In high demand as an insightful, humorous and engaging guest speaker, juror and analyst for festivals and trade forums around the country, McCaw also spent large amounts of time traveling abroad to television markets. Writing relieved the stress of constantly being on the road. Increasingly, she turned her main hobby into outlines for novels, and finished fleshing out the characters, plot and dialogue for OLIVIA’S MINE, a fictional account of a young bride’s struggle to make a life for herself against the backdrop of the disasters that hit Britannia Beach, British Columbia in the early 1900s. The book was released in 2006 and continues to be sold at the British Columbia Museum of Mining.
HELENS-OF-TROY was released early in 2012. McCaw is also currently developing eight other stories for novel form. All set on the Pacific North West and in Canada’s North, they include the murder mystery A LITTLE FIRST DEGREE, a feel-good trilogy THE INN AT HAZY WATERS (Northern Exposure meets Fantasy Island), and PUMPER an action romance that has already garnered interest as the basis for a feature film.
Fan video review: http://bit.ly/z9FqZ8
That Fantasy Blog review: http://bit.ly/zGGHJ9
Helena LaRose dragged the body out of the house and rolled it up and across the canopied swing on her front porch. First went the feet, then the torso. By the time she got to its flailing head, the rules of motion took over, and the corpse moved itself. Its weight caused the creaky three-seater bench with the weathered cushions to rock, hitting Helena straight in the kneecaps as it swung forward.
“Easy there, Sport,” she said, reaching forward and slowing the swing to a halt. “There will be no swingers on the porch tonight. I’ve got a reputation to maintain.” If the corpse was trying to get one more kick at her, it would have to do better than that.
Taking a step back to observe her handiwork, Helena knew that something wasn’t quite right in Deadville. “I should have thought more about this,” she said to herself, struggling to prop the body upright. “He’s just not a looker.” His lifeless arms flopped around her, hitting her in the head. “Son of a bitch,” she sighed.
She brushed back a strand of dark hair that had fallen in front of her eyes, and put her hands on her hips in exasperation. Moving cadavers around had certainly been a lot easier when she was younger.
“Do you need some help there, Helena?” asked the old man who had been silently viewing the entire scene from the sidewalk. “I don’t think he’s obeying the laws of physics. I’m pretty sure dead weight isn’t supposed to move around.”
She jumped. There was nothing worse than being caught in the act. She had hoped to keep things undercover a little longer. Timing never had been her thing.
She turned and gave her neighbor a wary smile. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to sit in the rocker today, Mr. Wagner. I know you’d prefer to stretch out on the swing for a bit of a rest on your afternoon walk, but it’s occupied at the moment.”
“So I see,” Mr. Wagner said, taking it all in stride. He sat down in the pine rocking chair next to his usual spot. “I guess I could break from my routine just for today.”
“Thank you,” Helena replied.
Mr. Wagner glanced at the body and pouted. “You’ve covered him with my blanket. The one you always give me to use. Do you think you can get me another one? I’d take it from him, but there’s just something unsettling about using a blanket that has covered a dead guy.”
“I’ve got another blanket ready for you, Mr. Wagner. It’s in the front hall. Cotton. I know wool makes you itch. The newspaper is there, too. I’ll get them both for you.”
“Don’t get old, Helena,” he sighed. “It’s a bitch. Stay young and beautiful like you are.”
Helena laughed. At fifty-eight, she was hardly young, but there was some kind of ageless beauty about her that was hard to dismiss.
“Young is a relative thing, but thanks, Mr. Wagner. How about I put the kettle on for us while I’m inside?”
“Can I have regular orange pekoe today?” he pleaded. “None of that herbal stuff?”
“Do you really think you should, Mr. Wagner? The anti-oxidant level is so much higher in the rooibos I blended for you.”
“Helena, stop being the naturopath that you are and give an old man a decent cup of tea. I’ll sign a waiver if you like. I rely on a little caffeine to keep my eighty-three year old heart pumping. I like coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and a stiff shot of scotch at night. Write that down in case your doctor books don’t cover the real secret to a long life.”
“That won’t be necessary, Mr. Wagner,” she laughed. “Just don’t let it get around. It’s bad for my business. I spend a lot of time telling my clients that peppermint tea is the elixir of life. You’re right though, peppermint schnapps may be closer to the truth.”
“Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder,” he winked wryly, smirking at his pun. There was nothing wrong with Mr. Wagner’s mind. He was sharp as a tack.
Helena watched him stretch his age-spotted finger in the direction of the body.
“Your man there, he’s got a problem,” he announced. “His leg has slid down to the floor. They’re the first things to go, you know. Legs. For me it was the knees. Do you want me to make him sit up so the kids don’t trip over him later tonight?”
Helena didn’t hear him. She was staring towards the house, her mind evidently elsewhere.
“Hello? Earth to HEL-EY-NAH...” he said slowly, emphasizing each syllable of her name. “I SAID, do you want me to fix him? Are you going deaf? Do I have to shake you senseless? That’s what people do to me when I have my hearing aid turned down too low.”
He tugged at her skirt. A very short skirt that showed off her magnificently toned legs. He knew that would get her attention. It certainly got his. He might be an octogenarian, but certain things still worked. As much as that thought may have bothered some women—hell, it might have downright creeped them out—he often flirted with Helena and she didn’t seem to mind it in the least.
Helena turned her head back towards him. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Wagner. Honestly, I don’t know where my head is today. I had all this running around to do this morning, even before I got started getting the house spooked-out for tonight. I guess I tired myself out, putting up all the Halloween decorations. If you could help me with the body, that would be wonderful.”
“I like the cobwebs you put up. You didn’t have to buy them though, I have plenty at home I could have lent you.”
Expecting a witty comeback from her, Mr. Wagner was concerned when he didn’t get one. “Is everything okay, Helena?”
She cocked her head slightly and took a slow look around her front property. “Yes, although the hairs on the back of my neck seem to be a little over-active today. I can’t put my finger on why that is. It must just be the occasion. I love Halloween, don’t you, Mr. Wagner?”
“It’s a lot more fun since you moved onto the street,” he admitted.
“The house is really going to look spooky this year. I’ve rented some strobe lights and a fog machine from a special-fx place in the city. You’ll have to come by and see it tonight. I think it will be quite something.”
“I’m sure it will be. I’m a big fan of your Halloween house, you know that,” Mr. Wagner said. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Thanks, Mr. Wagner. I’m just a little worried. Most of the neighborhood kids are getting older now. They’re harder to impress.” She looked at her watch. “I thought I’d be done setting up by now, but Mr. Death-warmed-over, he’s just not co-operating.”
“Dead men are like that,” Mr. Wagner said.
“It’s not just the dead men,” Helena laughed.
This story is a clever premise, that the Helens have longer lives and are in tune with the spirit world. The story is a coming of age for the grand-daughter; a coming to terms with her powers and family business for the mother; and a resolving past issues for the grandma.
It was a book that immediately grabbed you, demanded your attention, and kept you glued to the pages wanting more. I give this 4 out of 5 clouds.
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