Children of Icarus, by Caighlan Smith, is not for the faint of heart.
I was fortunate enough to read a copy of Children of Icarus provided by the publisher on NetGalley and going into the book I will admit that I really didn’t know much about it. The description for the book doesn’t give much away, except that a girl named Clara and her unnamed friend enter a labyrinth that’s fraught with danger.
In my head, I had visions loosely based on The Maze Runner mixed with mythology thrown in for good measure (think Daedalus and Icarus) but I really had no concept of what to expect.
It was nothing like what I expected.
From the beginning, we are introduced to a city at the heart of a labyrinth said to be the resting place of Icarus, where each year children between ten and sixteen years are sent into the labyrinth to become Icarii – angels in the own right. Our narrator, unnamed, talks of the ceremony and of her closest friend – Clara – who dreams of becoming Icarii and following in the footsteps of her older brother who had entered the labyrinth years before. Our narrator, at sixteen, can think of nothing worse and is terrified she’ll be chosen.
Both Clara and the narrator are chosen and sent into the labyrinth to find their way to Alyssia and their status of angels.
And it all spirals down-hill from there.
The labyrinth is full of monsters and creatures who want nothing more to kill those sent into it – which they do in short order.
There’s a relatively high body count in this book, which in context is perfectly fine, but I think perhaps warrants a warning to potential younger readers. There are gory and gruesome bits within it, as well as some questionable behaviour.
I found the first half of the book to be slow-reading – there are moments of very fast-paced action, which I really did like, but I did struggle to connect with the unnamed narrator. She’s a very shy, timid character who struggles immensely with her new situation in the labyrinth – which is refreshing because there are not too many books in this style that feature woefully unprepared, terrified main characters, but there are definitely times when I wanted to shake her and make her snap out of it before it got her killed. However, I think her traumatised state is really important because not everyone steps up to be a ‘hero’ when the whole world falls down around them and there’s a real sense of just human about her.
The last 100 pages or so I could barely put the book down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and I wanted to see how the narrator interacted with the new settings and characters she finds herself within.
Another element I really liked was the supporting characters; the way they reacted to the narrator felt true, even as some of their actions horrified me. But, in context, we’re talking about characters who’ve spent a good portion of their life trapped in a labyrinth they can’t escape, being hunted by creatures that want to kill and eat them. The only people they know are their fellow Icarii and there’s a real sense of isolationism and cabin-fever at times.
I was really surprised when I came to the end of the book, both in terms of the abrupt ending – which upon reflection is actually a good place to end the book – but also in terms of how my opinion had changed. What was an ‘okay’ book for most of my reading experience ended up as ‘pretty good’ and a real desire to know what is going to happen next. I’m not sure if this is a stand alone novel or part of a bigger series, but there’s definitely scope for it to turn into a really interesting series. If not, as a stand alone it does leave you with questions.
Overall I rated Children of Icarus 3.5 stars. It’s available now.
Title | Children of Icarus
Author | Caighlan Smith
Genre | Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date | August 2016
Publisher | Capstone
Good Reads Review | Children of Icarus
I received a copy of Children of Icarus free for a fair and unbiased review. This post does contain affiliate links.