Welcome back to my little corner of the internet, where all things books are encouraged, and we can just ignore the rest of the world for a bit… bliss.
Today I’m reviewing Ariadne, ‘the brilliant feminist debut everyone is talking about‘, by Jennifer Saint. Due out on 29th April from Wildfire, an imprint of Headline Publishing Group, I was so excited to get a proof copy of this book in advance, and it absolutely did not disappoint.
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?
ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
Firstly – how absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful is this cover? The cover of the proof I was sent – which you can find on my Instagram here – is just as beautiful, and this is one of those proof copies I am sure I’ll be keeping hold of for the rest of time.
I love mythology, and the recent surge in retellings of Greek myths, especially from the perspective of the previously overlooked women in the tales, has absolutely captivated me. Being brought into the world in the wake of books such as Circe and A Thousand Ships is an intimidating task, and it is one that Saint rises to in utter triumph.
The book takes us on a journey spanning decades, from young naive teenagers, to strong powerful women. Through the eyes of Ariadne and later also her sister Phaedra, we see a world governed by men and their whims, overseen by yet more men – just immortal ones. As the story progresses, taking the sisters in directions so different from one another, it becomes clear to them both that their father was only the first tyrant they had to escape from. Tyrants, life teaches them, in multiple difficult ways, all come in different forms – but they are all male, and a woman, whatever her wise brain or kind heart, is simply collateral damage.
I won’t deny that I cried at several points in this book, so emotive is the story itself, but also is Saint’s skill at drawing upon the already emotional driven to drive home her own point about the story and its tellers. Written in language as stunning as the cover, you will feel your heart swell and break repeatedly for the sisters who wanted only to have what these men are determined to take from them; to live happily.
My thanks again to Wildfire at Headline Publishing for my proof copy. Ariadne is out in hardback, audio and ebook on 29th April.