May 11th, 2021 by Jane Turner
This review of Ariadne by Jennifer Saint comes courtesy of a Blog Tour organised by Random Things Tours. Ariadne was published by Wildfire Books on 29 April 2021. I received a free copy of the ebook.
‘My story would not be one of death and suffering and sacrifice, I would take my place in the songs that would be sung about Theseus; the princess who saved him and ended the monstrosity that blighted Crete’
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.
I haven’t read a lot of ‘ancient myths’, but I just could not go past this glorious cover art! Absolutely stunning!
In all truth, though, I found Ariadne herself to be a bit of a challenge.
Let me explain.
In the beginning, Ariadne simpers. She’s a simpering girl. She frets and worries and wrings her hands. A lot. She does stop simpering as she ages and the story moves to her life beyond Crete, but she’s difficult in the beginning.
Ariadne is two stories in one – the story of Ariadne herself, and also of her sister, Phaedra. How their stories branch from the life they both knew, how different they are, and how their reality doesn’t compete with either of their dreams. And Phaedra restored my faith in mythical women.
This, essentially, is a ‘be careful what you wish for’ parable.
The writing style is of the era, formal and slightly stiff, though the dialogue relaxes it a little. The chapters flick between Ariadne’s and Phaedra’s stories really well, and clearly shows the differences (and similarities) between the sisters.
There are godly visits and attacks, vicious monsters, cameos from familiar names like Daedalus (and Icarus), Amazons, and some really extraordinary Greek names that I didn’t even try to pronounce.
The end, though, left something to be desired for me. It was quick and I was left wanting more. But you can make your own opinion.
All in all, I did enjoy this, and I recommend to anyone who loves a myth or tale of the ancients.
Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students.
ARIADNE is her first novel and she is working on another retelling of ancient myth for her second.
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