Ariadne by Jennifer Saint is a fantastic Greek Myth retelling. Ariadne was the maiden to help Theseus kill the Minotaur, but what happened after?

When I saw this book first on Netgalley, I was incredibly excited about it. With its comparison to Madeline Miller’s books, it seemed right up my alley. After reading this, I can honestly say it does not disappoint.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From Goodreads:

A mesmerizing retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

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

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy. They may not reflect the quotes in the book after publication.

“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”

With this book being compared to one of my all-time favorite books, I was a little nervous about how it would live up to that. As I said before, it did not disappoint at all. I was genuinely surprised by how interesting and well-written this book was. Ariadne starts as a little cold, and hard to connect to. Her emotions towards Theseus bring life to her, and her inherent betrayal more emotion. This growth as a woman, and a mother, was interesting to read. Her feelings towards the gods taking out their punishment on women when they did not commit the crime were fascinating. It was both a true and thought-provoking concept about Greek mythology.

“The cold green of his eyes. Like the shock of the chill waters when the seafloor drops away unexpectedly beneath your feet and you realize that you have swum out far beyond your depth.”

This story truly expanded upon characters that you don’t hear much about, like Ariadne and her sister Phaedra. While I found Phaedra’s side of the story almost like an afterthought, it was still interesting to see what happened to her after the events in Crete. However, it did provide a different perspective of who she is commonly presented as. Instead of the woman who falsely accuses a man of rape, she is a woman at a loss after being rejected. Even Ariadne attempts to clarify this to an extent, to keep what happens to Phaedra’s step-son from happening.

“You told me once that one lifetime of human love was worth the loss.”

The pacing of this writing was well done. While plot-wise it would lull to fill in the backstory, the prose was beautiful and emotional. This balanced out this information, preventing us from feeling as though we are experiencing “tell don’t show” writing. The gentle hints at other myths as they all intertwined were perfect. If you are new to Greek myth, or familiar with these tales, you would appreciate the intricacies of this. Nothing feels too much like it assumes you know the history. This truly was a beautiful book to put side by side with Circe. The characterizations of women’s existence were wonderful to read in this setting.

“Because if I had learned anything, I had learned enough to know that a god in pain is dangerous.”

Thank you to Flatiron Books for giving me a copy of this book. This in no way affects my review.

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