Accursed Women by Luciana Cavallaro

Luciana Cavallaro is the author of a series of short stories about the lives of five amazing women from Ancient Greek History. I read the first one, Aphrodite's Curse, several weeks ago and enjoyed it so much I downloaded the complete series, Accursed Women.

I've just finished reading the collection and re-read Aphrodite's Curse, which is the death-bed memoir of princess Phaedra in which she reflects on her own life and describes the events of the day. I think I enjoyed it even more than on the first reading especially for its detailed background.

The second story is the life of Helen as told to a self-styled professional historian who visits Helen towards the end of her life and records a whole new version of events leading up to the wooden horse of Troy saga. Helen comes over as a really strong character who is determined to tell her story to posterity and set the record straight about what she regards as a distorted reality. Whether the author is making this up or not I don't know but it makes for a very readable and engaging story.

The style for the third story, A Goddess' Curse, is a complete contrast and a big surprise. It combines the ancient and the modern, the mythical with reality and works really well. I think this is my favourite story in the collection: it's informative and insightful but entertaining and amusing. The goddess Hera gives a candid interview to daytime chat show host, Drake Drabbler. She shares what it’s like to be a goddess and wife to Zeus, the King of the Gods. Drabbler thinks that his exclusive interview with Queen Hera is a cert for a daytime TV award but he gets a lot more than he bargains for!

Boxed in a Curse is a fresh take on the well-known story of Pandora's Box. When two precocious children ask their grandfather for a story he's got a good one up his sleeve which seems to have more than a little relevance to their own lives.

Everyone must have heard of Medousa, the hideous Gorgon with the human face and snakes instead of hair who will turn you into stone if you look into her eyes. In the final story, Cursed by Treachery, Luciana Cavallaro explains how Medousa becomes this terrifying monster and by the end of the story, amazingly, the reader is full of sympathy for Medousa's plight.

All the stories are well written and packed with information. They are highly readable and entertaining. I'm sure if school Classics lessons had been this interesting I would have paid more attention. Well done author Luciana Cavallaro for bringing such originality to some very ancient tales.

The stories are available to download singly or as a boxed set and there are details on the author's page at Amazon, Smashwords or on her website.