Hopeless Heroes #2: Hera’s Terrible Trap! – Stella Tarakson

Illustrations – Nick Roberts

We first met Tim Baker when he accidentally broke an antique Greek vase while dusting to help his mother, who struggled to work two jobs to support herself and her son, in Here Comes Hercules!, the first book in the Hopeless Heroes series.

Hercules had been trapped inside the vase by his evil stepmother Hera, and upon his release Hercules decides to ‘help’ Tim complete his chores. Hercules’ brand of help tends to end in disaster and ruins the garden in the process.

With Hercules safely returned to Ancient Greece, Hera’s Terrible Trap! begins at the outdoor garden centre with Tim and his mother shopping for plants to replace those Hercules destroyed while ‘helping’ in the first book.

Tim has taken it upon himself to protect the newly mended vase. Evil Hera and her servant Hermes have already attempted to steal the vase to recapture Hercules so Tim is on guard. Despite Tim’s best efforts Hermes manages to steal the vase, along with a stowaway. Tim grabbed hold of the vase as Hermes made his escape and is now stuck in Ancient Greece.

In this book Tim reunites with Hercules and meets his wife Agatha and daughter Zoe. Against overprotective Dad’s wishes Zoe decides to steal the vase from Hera so she can’t use it to recapture Hercules. Unable to talk this determined little miss out of her plan Tim follows Zoe and the kids wind up on an adventure.

Together they come across other mythological figures including vain Theseus (who Zoe, despite how smart she is, hero worships), one of Medusa’s sisters Stheno and Zoe’s Grandpa Perseus. Along the way they encounter a labyrinth, weaponised fruit and guard dogs peacocks! Yet even if they make it out of their adventure alive Tim has no idea if he will ever find a way to return home to present day England, where his Mum is no doubt frantic that her son is missing.

In this book we get a glimpse at one of Leo the bully’s family members and it becomes clearer why Leo is a bully in the first place, which I liked and look forward to getting to know him better in future books. I wasn’t, however, a fan of Tim getting back at Leo for tripping him by then tripping Leo. During this scene I heard my dreaded adult voice chiding Tim for his actions. Thankfully my adult voice shut up for the rest of the book.

Whereas the first book obviously needed time to set up the story and mythology, there was more action and adventure in the sequel. I did find the first book funnier although that’s probably more a reflection of how much fun I found Hercules’ bumbling attempts to help Tim to be. I thought that Zoe, being a strong and independent girl, would have been somewhat immune to Theseus’ alleged charms. It turns out that even smart girls can become groupies to doofus types.

Overall I enjoyed the sequel more than the first book and plan to continue reading this series. If you haven’t read the first book you could get away with starting the series with this one as it begins with a recap of the first, but to get the most out of it I’d recommend you read them in order.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for the opportunity to read this book. I’ll be looking out for Tim’s next adventure in Arachne’s Golden Gloves!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Tim Baker thinks his adventures are over until he hitches a ride to Ancient Greece on a stolen vase. Soon Tim finds himself trapped with an army of peacocks and a hero who can’t stop admiring himself. Put that mirror down, Theseus!

Thank the gods his new friend Zoe is there to help. Just don’t tell her dad …

Hopeless Heroes #1: Here Comes Hercules! – Stella Tarakson

Illustrations – Nick Roberts

Here Comes Hercules! is a fun start to a new children’s series called Hopeless Heroes. Including plenty of illustrations by Nick Roberts, we’re introduced to Tim Baker who lives with his mother. Tim is often needed to help out with the housework as his mother is busily working two jobs trying to keep her small family afloat, while actively working on her dream of becoming an author.

One day while dusting an ancient Greek vase he accidentally drops it and it shatters. Unbeknownst to Tim, by breaking the vase he’s also accidentally set Hercules free after he was trapped inside by wicked Hera, the wife of Hercules’ father Zeus. Hercules winds up ‘helping’ Tim with his household chores as only a Hopeless Hero can.

Hercules’ funny attempts to help inevitably end in disaster and Tim’s poor mother thinks Tim is acting out because he’s sick of cleaning. Tim discovers he’s the only person who can see Hercules, which complicates his relationship with his mother, his friendship with Ajay and even with Leo, the bully at school. Hercules is desperate to return to his wife and daughter and Tim is determined to help him, if only they can figure out how.

This chapter book is suitable for younger children who will enjoy Hercules’ bumbling attempts to be helpful. There are some good giggles and great illustrations, along with some accidental education about ancient Greek mythology. Bullying is addressed and I expect this theme will continue in future books. There are also indications the bully is facing family problems.

Tim and his mother are likeable characters who both have room for growth in future books. Tim, while not a fan of housework, wants to help out his mother and is supportive of her dream of becoming an author. Tim’s mother only wants the best for her son and is working hard to support him. I will be interested in reading the next book in the series.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When Tim Baker breaks his mum’s favourite vase, it’s the least of his problems. The Greek hero he’s released is in danger of doing far worse. To the flowers, the rug – Oh, no! Not the kitchen!

Hercules is only trying to be helpful but he’s just hopeless. It’s time to send this dim demigod home before Tim becomes ancient history.