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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
The Hounds of Samaria by Nigel Patten takes place in Crete during World War Two. George Ghikas has Greek ancestry, so the British army sends him behind enemy lines on occupied Crete with orders to organize partisan groups in the White Mountains. Before his posting, George had begun having strange dreams, almost hallucinations, about a dancing girl. These dreams continue upon his arrival in Crete. It appears that George was once the victim of a human sacrifice ceremony that took place in a restored Minoan temple located near his current base camp. The girl who has been haunting his dreams was the officiating priestess during the ancient sacrificial ceremony ... until the temple was destroyed by an earthquake. The past merges with the present until George almost commits suicide by reenacting the sacrificial ceremony from 3,600 years ago in the restored temple.
This book has an amazing sense of lyricism that draws the reader into a complex, yet finely woven plot. The author is a consummate wordsmith, whose eloquent and poetic descriptions paint a vivid picture for the reader, giving a sense of timelessness and a link to an ancient, bloody past. Given the nature of the plot, the author has included historical and mythological details to deepen the mystery surrounding George's recurring dreams. In counterpoint to George's experiences and discoveries as he delves into his obsession with Lamia, the dancing girl, are the experiences and impressions of Doctor Vassilis Iatros. The doctor became a monk when his wife was killed in a car accident. His obsession is to painstakingly restore the ancient Minoan temple on the island, the same temple featured in George's dreams. Both George and the doctor become increasingly aware of the power of the subconscious mind and its ability to transcend time and space.
The author uses an interesting technique by deftly introducing back story and other necessary details in a series of poignant memories to bring the reader and the characters to the moment in time when literally all hell breaks loose on the island. This is a wonderful book with a compelling story, a real page-turner.