Today, I’m excited to share my review of the stupendous Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.
As a huge fan of Greek mythology, I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis, which promises an interesting take on the classic myth. Ariadne herself promised to be an intriguing and complex protagonist, caught in the ambitions and betrayals of male power.
Luckily for me, the amazing Caitlin Raynor at Wildfire Books sent me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Publication Date: 29th April
TW: rape, suicide, death, violence, sacrifice
Ariadne is a fascinating, beautifully written reimaging of classical mythology with a feminist edge that systematically exposes and destroys the toxic masculinity embedded at the heart of Greek myth.
I am endlessly fascinated by the unwritten sides of classic stories and so was instantly drawn to this lush retelling of Greek mythology. It promised to show me a hidden and unspoken aspect to a story I thought I knew. Ariadne gave me all this and so much more. It took characters from the margins of myth and gave them their voices back. This kind of feminist reclamantion of historical narrative is endlessly fascinating for me. In fact between this and Madam, I felt the urge to seek out more reimaginings of Greek mythology and have a feminist classics binge.
Saint has such style intrinsically woven into her writing. It just flowed so well, allowing me to get totally enveloped in her imaginative tapestry of plot, characters and a vivid setting. I felt utterly transported and riveted to the page. Here, the women are front and centre of the story, with fully fleshed out backstories, motivations and character arcs.
Saint doesn’t shy away from the brutality and darkness of the times, along with the rampant misogyny and the oppressive patriarchal structures that lay the blame for men’s follies at the feet of women. Too often in myths, women are pigeonholed into caricaturish roles and punished for the actions of men. Ariadne breaks all of these boxes. These women are nuanced, imperfect creatures, but they are given space to grow and change. They defy limitations and learn to find their own place within this limited society. Power and love are forces to be wielded, but they will also wield you.
Ariadne is a tour de force. It is a powerful expression of women reclaiming their narrative and establishing their own place in a world that seeks to belittle and marginalise them. Their suffering will be heard.