Rhodes, 227 BC
Seven Days before the Great Quake
In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.
The death of her body was long overdue. Her soul had died ten years ago.
Tessa’s heart has turned to bronze. What she desires most is to escape, either by ship, across the ocean and to a new life, or through death. Yes, she would rather die than live on in constant pain, to be continually mistreated and abused – she is a hetaera, a Greek courtesan to a rich and powerful man. Nevermind that she is reknowned, popular, and much desired. She is still a slave, one who has been bought, sold, and used. And she despises her existence.
She was known, she was admired, she was feared.
But I am not loved.
This was my first T.L. Higley novel, and I really loved it! I loved the history involved, the Greek surroundings, and the culture that came alive to me. And I could really relate to Tessa, as you will see in the next few paragraphs. The Shadow of Colossus is a fast-paced adventure, full of intrigue, deception, even murder – and it wasn’t predictable! Hurray for another well-written, unpredictable plot! ;-)
Tessa struggles with something we all struggle with at some point in our lives. Is opening our hearts and making ourselves vulnerable, loving and caring for other people or even ourselves, worth the risk of being hurt? We may feel joy, but we will feel pain, too. I could completely relate to Tessa’s stubbornness – underneath that marble exterior was a fear of letting go and feeling too much. It was her way of coping.
When Nikos, a spy posing as a slave in the household of her master, comes into her life, her heart begins to soften. Nikos is gentle and seems to be able to look right through her marble mask to her heart. He is the only one that believes that deep down she is a girl who needs help.
“Tessa,” he whispered. “To be alive to love and alive to joy is to risk being hurt, to risk people failing you and disappointing you.”
“Then I do not wish to be alive to those things.”
He reached for her hand, intertwined her fingers with his own. “But can’t you see that your philosophy is not working?”
Tessa swallowed, fighting the heaviness in her chest.
“It does not work, this trying to become stone. You are left refusing the joys of life in order to refuse the pain. Yet the pain remains even when joy has been denied. You have rejected the best of life to avoid the worst, and still you are unhappy.”
The Shadow of Colossus is the first of the Seven Wonders series and has me waiting eagerly for the rest to be released! Check out this gorgeous cover for the second in the series, City of the Dead!
Also, read T.L. Higley’s diary of her travels in Greece, doing research for The Shadow of Colossus! I read the entire journal and there are some awesome photos that bring the whole story to life, I recommend reading through it or at least viewing some of the pictures if you’ve read the book!
And check out this video interview with T.L. Higley: