Author: Jennifer Saint
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, mythology
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?


BLOG TOUR!

I’m so delighted to bring you my review of Elektra by Jennifer Saint! Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for inviting me on the tour! Ariadne was one of my favorite retellings — so I was beyond delighted to be offered this chance. As some of you may know I got my undergrad degree in Classics and History. I focused a lot on women in history as well as queerness. This book was such a perfect rendition of taking a new perspective on the classic myths that we all know (and may or may not love). Without further ado, I bring to you my review of Elektra.


Review

Elektra is the stunning story of three women – Clytemnestra, Elektra and Cassandra. Saint takes the stories and myths about these women and brings them to life. She gives them agency in a way that the myths never did. They become real to the imagination, and you can feel for them. It is an intense book in many ways. 

If you’re familiar with Greek mythology you know about the Trojan War, and you know about Agamemnon. You know what happens to all the characters in the book. Still, reading it from a different perspective, of what was happening while the men were away was amazing. 

Saint infused her characters with so much life and personality they come off the page. In the Greek stories they often depict the women as one of two ways: traitorous or the perfect woman. There is no inbetween. And more often than not, even if the woman is perfect there is still some issue; that she is betrayed by the men. 

Notably, both Helen (who is in this book) and Clytemnestra who are sisters are perceived as betrayers in Greek myth. Which is interesting when you compare it to what Agamemnon and Menelaus did. 

This book had so much heart in it. There is one part that absolutely shredded me; I had to go get a tissue and take a deep breath before I continued reading the book. It was impactful in a way I think it wasn’t in the original myth. 

Just for some background in this book Elektra is devoted to her father. Clytemnestra hates Agamemnon for what he did. Had started hating him even before. And Cassandra is just doing her own thing. The relationship between Clytemnestra and Elektra is fascinating. I felt that Elektra was supposed to stand for how people were supposed to perceive Agamemnon, and Clytemnestra was supposed to be how he really was. Cassandra is seeing the war firsthand, and we get her perspective, a woman’s perspective on the war. 

Saint’s writing is amazing. I was lulled into this story, and it reads with such a cadence. There is no wasted part of the story. I felt every piece included was intentional. Saint deftly weaves in the relationships and family relationships with the myths they come from. She manages to explain how Helen and Clytemnestra are related to Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. She does this with other characters throughout the book. 

Placed together, it is visually stunning to read. It is feminist, as it takes myths written and retold by men and gives women their agency and their strength back. It gives them their own stories beyond just being the “betrayer” or the “woman waiting”. This book was about family, about grief and about love. 

I absolutely loved this book, even if it tore my heart out. 

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Author: Jennifer Saint
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: fantasy, mythology, retelling
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?


Review

Overview

Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book was high on my list of books that I wanted to read. I’m a huge fan of Greek Mythology, especially new and different takes on what we think we know about it. Madeline Miller’s Circe was excellent because we got to see the myth’s from a woman’s perspective, not that of the men who take up about 90% of the mythology. When we do get women in myth they are usually evil or temptresses or some other variety of a woman who is considered bad or wrong. Much like Circe, Ariadne takes the myth as we know it and turns it into a powerful look at sexism and empowerment.

Writing


This book was a delight to read on so many levels. Saint’s writing is excruciatingly beautiful and I fell in love with it from the very beginning. There is something so powerful about this writing, and I felt it in my bones as I was reading this novel. It is very prose filled with some dialogue, but the prose is powerful. Much of the dialogue focuses on stories and the myths that we’ve all come to know. One interesting thing is how Saint manages to loop in the other myths and explains how the relate to Ariadne. While the book is titled Ariadne, her sister Phaedra, has some chapters from her perspective as well.

Plot

The plot of the book revolves around Ariadne and her family. The choices she makes from helping Theseus and the Labyrinth to after. The book was very detailed in its plot. It stuck to the general feeling of the original myth but elaborates and adds perspective from Ariadne. The plot is almost backseat to Ariadne and her own power.

Characters

One thing I loved about this book is we know so little about the women in the myth. Saint has had to create and invent a personality and overall general character for Ariadne. Like many other women in Greek myth she lacks character. The goddesses have a little more, but here we see how powerful Saint is because her characterization is so lovely. From the moment you meet the women in this book you can see what positions they’re in, and how they have to fight. This book shows how women are manipulated for men’s purposes. Saint did it so wonderfully and it was well done – I cannot express how much I enjoyed it.

Pacing

The pacing of this book is slow. It doesn’t meander, but it definitely has a purpose to the slowness. And it is helped by the fact we flip between what action there is in the book.

Last Thoughts

Elaborating from myth and real Greece, Saint creates a world and captures the imagination of mythic Greece. The palace of Knossos is vivid in the imagination, and when you look at pictures it is easy to envision Ariadne and her sister there.

This book was just stunningly beautiful on so many levels and I absolutely feel in love with it. It left me breathless and engaged. I can’t put into words how much I adored this book.

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