Book Review: Children of Icarus

Children of Icarus  by Caighlan Smith
Rating: 4 stars
Published: 8/1/16
Genre: YA, fantasy
Read: 11/13/17

Summary from Goodreads:
It is Clara who is desperate to enter the labyrinth and it is Clara who is bright, strong, and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It is no surprise when she is chosen. But so is the girl who has always lived in her shadow. Together they enter. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now the girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn with who to trust means a certain dead end.

This story begins with a legend, that is loosely based off of the Greek myth of Icarus, about an angel who flies too close to the sun in an attempt to meet the Gods. His wings melt off and he plummets to Earth, barely surviving the fall. Dadala then builds him a place to recover and builds the labyrinth around it to protect him.

This is the story told to and furiously believed by inhabitants of the city built just outside the labyrinth. Ever year children between the ages of 10 and 16 are sent in, in hopes of finding Icarus at the center and becoming angels themselves. They are told they cannot tire or become hungry in the labyrinth.

Clara’s brother went into the labyrinth years ago, and it is her deepest desire to get in and join him. Clara’s best friend, our unnamed narrator, has her reservations. She is shocked and inwardly terrified when she is chosen as an Icarii, a one of the chosen children. Clara, on the other hand, rejoices at her chance to become an angel with her best friend and finally join her brother. And so they enter the labyrinth.

The narrator quickly loses Clara, and even more quickly after that, all hope. She is lucky to survive her first encounter with the labyrinth’s inhabitants, but that’s not where her journey ends.

I’ve gotta say, it’s hard to think of how to write this without spoilers. There are a lot of twists in this story, quite a bit of twistedness, and very little sugar-coating. A lot of the time I had no idea what could be coming next. Some of it was quite gross (but I am totally okay with reading gross. It’s just the seeing and hearing of gross things that really gets me).

There was one really big, really stupid thing the narrator did, that pretty much sealed her fate the longer she went without fixing it.  I really don’t understand why she did it or never explained. When she later thinks back on it, it seems like she really doesn’t understand what she was doing either/she was shocked into stupidity, but then she still is too afraid to do anything about it.

I do have to say that I am very happy with the ending. The narrator spent a lot of the story being so weak and needy and helpless, it got a little irritating. I mean, it’s hard to actually be annoyed by someone who’s been traumatized, but still. She never tried to get through it. When she finally is forced to grow it’s a big breath of fresh air.

I loved all the time spent later in the book in the maze and getting to know The Executioner. She’s quite a badass, especially considering everything that we do learn about the maze and her own backstory. Somehow everything wrapped up so well that it could be a slightly disappointing/open ended standalone, yet left enough of a cliffhanger that I need the next one.


Have you read Children of Icarus? What are your thoughts? Where do you think the story will go from here?

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