In her author’s notes, Hoover contends Medea has been the victim of “bad press,” which she attributes to Euripides’ Medea, the standard source for her story. Hoover indicates that she was inspired to research the Medea story after she read a comment in Robert Graves’s The Greek Myths stating that Euripides was paid fifteen talents by the citizens of Corinth to write a play that would absolve them of any guilt in the murder of Medea’s children. Concerned that Euripides’ Medea, which she calls “propaganda as art,” has become the accepted version of the Medea story, Hoover has set out to present what she sees as a more accurate picture of Medea and Jason. Therein lies one of the problems with the novel. Unless readers are familiar with the Euripides’ play or sources derived from it, they may not recognize the full extent of the revisionist nature of Hoover’s account. In fact, if the book is used in classrooms, it probably should be taught in conjunction with Euripides’ Medea.
Rather than the heroic leader of the Argonauts, Hoover’s Jason is cruel, self-serving, and arrogant. He drives Hercules from the Argo’s crew because Hercules is a potential rival for leadership, kills Apsystus under a flag of truce, and leads Medea to believe that he loves her, although he marries her only when he sees political advantage in allying himself to someone with ties to the throne of Corinth. He also takes credit for the improvements that Medea makes in the economy of Corinth, divorces Medea to marry...
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The Dawn Palace, like many of Helen Hoover’s other books, is soundly grounded in historical research, as Hoover makes clear in her author’s notes. In a similar fashion, The Lion’s Cub (1974), selected as a Children’s Book of the Year by the Child Study Association of America, is based on Hoover’s reading of old journals and diaries. The book presents the story of Jemal Edin Shamyl, a little boy used as a pawn by his father, the imam of Daghestan, and Nicholas I during the Wars of the Caucasus. Hoover’s interest in history is also reflected in Another Heaven, Another Earth (1981), selected by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults; it is based on fragments of a diary and the letters of a Virginia colonist who died waiting for a ship from the Old World that never came. Readers can be assured that all of Hoover’s historical fiction is grounded in research.