Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Book Review: Woman of a Thousand Secrets by Barbara Wood

What drew me initially to this work is the fact that I have visited both Tikal and Copan, ruins of former great Mayan cities in Central America and the setting of this fascinating work of historical fiction. It explores an exciting time period, full of myth, danger and upheaval, as the Mayans lose their dominance and the Aztecs begin to flourish.

In the book, we follow the main character Tonina, a young woman who grew up on the islands but arrived as a baby with the dolphins from somewhere else, as she goes on a quest on the mainland not only to find a rare flower that is said to have healing powers but also to find her destiny. Along the way we meet a colorful cast of characters including a one eyed dwarf, a shape shifter, two famous ballplayers (one a spoiled Mayan prince, one a noble outsider), a 15 year old girl who looks like a grandmother, a woman trapped in an underground cave for over 20 years (thought to be the Earth Goddess) and many more.

The story is engaging and the historical detail, mixed with a bit of mythical fantasy, really gives you a sense of what it might have been like to live in this far off time and place. You might have known that in the Mayan culture, death on the ball court meant ascending to 13th heaven and consorting with gods in the afterlife. But did you know that dwarves were sought after companions because they were thought to bring luck?

Thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program for giving me yet another enjoyable reading experience.

Woman of a Thousand Secrets came out yesterday and is now available in hardcover.

BTW, here's a Mayan ball court at Copan (grainy from being scanned in!). I really enjoyed my visit there, although it was a bit underwhelming after visiting Tikal. Except for the opressive humidity and enormous mosquitoes, I loved everything about Tikal - the history, the ruins, the nature, the monkeys. A must visit!


Ladytink_534 said...

I seriously have got to read this! It sounds like a wonderful story.

Keri Mikulski said...

Sounds like an interesting story. Thanks for the review. :)