Reader Reviewed Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

Children of Icarus

Written by Caighlan Smith

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July 2016 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: * Dystopian deception * Greek myth * Survival

A labyrinthine world of brutality, deception and monstrous creatures awaits in this intense coming-of-age fantasy about fighting to survive. Being chosen to enter the angel-guarded labyrinth is the greatest honour that can be bestowed on the children of Daedelum. That's what people pray for, and that’s what Clara wants; to be chosen, and reunited with her brother. But the reality of life within the labyrinth is very different. Shortly after entering it, Clara is attacked by terrifying screeching creatures, and the novel’s unnamed protagonist is left without her cherished childhood friend. She’s taken in by the Fates, a group of Icarii dedicated to teaching newcomers “how to adapt and survive”. Within the labyrinth, people are either scavengers or caretakers. Whichever you are, it's a brutally basic existence, plagued by the ever-present threat of the screechers. “This isn't the kind of place where you play at being a hero,” she’s warned. “Escape when and however you can”.

Crippled by introversion, the protagonist ends up adopting Clara's name after a Fates companion overhears her crying it out her sleep, and she can’t face correcting the mistake. But trouble comes when the truth emerges, and then there's the Executioner… Soon enough, there's danger from every quarter. Who to trust? Where to go? What to do? The tension is high, the writing is taut, and this sharp, strident fantasy will be relished by fans of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. ~ Joanne Owen

A Piece of Passion from editor, Penny West; I read Children of Icarus in two days, and I would have read it in one, had I taken all of the manuscript home with me. If I can recommend one book that will captivate you into turning the pages to find out what happens next, this is it. Behind the book is an author with a story of her own. At 18, her first book was published in her home country of Canada, with the sequel following a year later. She has travelled internationally as guest author to book festivals and spoken in many schools about following a dream and never giving up. Now still only 21, with Children of Icarus publishing in the UK in July and in the US in August, Caighlan is coming to the UK this summer to promote her new book. I can’t wait for her fans to get to meet her and be inspired by her love of writing.

Icarus was the surprise hit at Book Expo America. We gave away promo copies and just weren’t prepared for the queues and excitement over what fans had heard so far. One pair talked about how they follow the author online and can’t wait for the chance to meet her one day.

As for the book itself, it starts with a delicious dread as the narrator spends her days secretly wishing she won’t be chosen to enter the labyrinth. Worthy teens are chosen every year to make the sacred journey that will end in them becoming angels and immortal. Why shouldn’t she be desperate to take part? But she is chosen and is, of course, right to fear the labyrinth. Then there is a twist you will never see coming that changes everything. The build-up explodes as all hell breaks loose.

I fell in love with the central character in the first chapter – she’s quiet, scared, not your typical female ultra-hero, but she has an inner strength that unfolds as the story progresses, and I could really connect with that. You see, female protagonists are analysed in a way their male counterparts aren’t. Katniss has set the bar – a female lead must be strong, a born warrior. But what if she isn’t? What if she’s traumatised by the horrors she’s seen and suffers from possible social anxiety? What if she’s always lived in the shadow of a best friend she idolises and doesn’t know how to cope when forced into the spotlight? Everyone deserves to be represented in literature and told it’s ok if sometimes you’re afraid or don’t know what to do.

She makes a choice to keep going and that’s when she finds true strength. The kick-ass moments we later see are all the more satisfying because we travelled alongside her and saw how hard she fought to get there.

(And she is absolutely not saved by a love interest.)

This is a book close to my heart and the labyrinth is one of my favourite worlds to get lost in. I can’t wait for other fans of YA to experience the same.

Reader Reviews

Teens and YA's love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Eloise Mae Clarkson - 'the range of unique creatures which were included in the story was impressive.  I loved the plot line of the book and the ending...I hope that this book becomes a series.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This is an often brutal story with violence and cruelty, I had moments of shock reading it and at other times my eyes were stinging from the tenderness in the story.'
  • Izzy Read, age 15 - 'I’d recommend it to fans of the Maze Runner that need another adventure!'
  • Humaira, age 18 - 'Sort of like a blend of The Maze Runner by James Dashner with a supernatural twist.'
  • Celeste Phelan, age 14 - 'A completely unique novel which kept me gripped to the very last page.'


Children of Icarus by Caighlan Smith

It's Clara who's desperate to enter the labyrinth and it's Clara who's bright, strong and fearless enough to take on any challenge. It's no surprise when she's 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.

The story is set in the city of Daedelum, where, every year, children pray for the honour of being chosen to enter the labyrinth – the unmapped and mysterious maze that surrounds the city walls. The children are promised that their journey through the labyrinth will be guarded by angels, and those who make their way through will win the chance to ascend to paradise. But traveling the labyrinth is not the honour it is promised to be.

The main characters are two 16-year-old girls who are chosen to journey to the land of the angels. Their lives, dreams and beliefs come crashing down when they enter the labyrinth. Within minutes, they are torn apart forever. Now a girl who has never left the city walls must fight to survive in a living nightmare, where one false turn means certain death and there are angels – but not guardians.

As the plot unfolds, the reader is immersed in the nightmarish atmosphere of the inescapable labyrinth. Claustrophobic, haunting, enthralling, inspiring – Children of Icarus is a book to set your heart racing.

About the Author

Caighlan Smith

As a child, Caighlan Smith loved to build and navigate pillow mazes. An adoration of Greek mythology soon followed. Canadian born and raised, Smith studied English Literature and Classics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first novel was published when she was nineteen.

Caighlan Smith wrote her first novel, Hallow Hour, in her final year of high school in St. John's. Inspired by her love of fantasy and the supernatural, Smith's work combines the fun and action of video games with the urgency of post-apocalyptic survival.

She is studying English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Hallow Hour, the first book in the Surreality series, was signed with a publisher when she turned 19. To date, she has written 14 novels and one novella. Her great loves are reading, gaming and, of course, writing.

The C in her name is hard, the gh silent.

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Book Info


320 pages
Interest Age: From 14


Caighlan Smith
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Curious Fox

Publication date

14th July 2016




Publisher Profile

Curious Fox is an imprint of Curious Fox


Curious Fox is an exciting imprint for young readers of all ages.  Our mission is to publish imaginative, creative, and jaw-droppingly enjoyable books that will take readers on a journey through new adventures and experiences. Inspired by the curious nature of the fox, the imprint is designed to spark the curiosity of young readers, from beautiful picture books; un-put-down-able middle grade series to thought-provoking YA novels. Curious Fox is also the official publisher of Warner Brothers brands including DC Comics Justice League, Looney Tunes and top dog Scooby-Doo.

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