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’m not even sure where to start with Ariadne and my almost visceral emotional response to it. The beautiful complexity of the narrative drew me in immediately and since that moment I have been desperately eeking it out, not wanting it to end.
But sadly end it did and now my life has a gap where Ariadne and Phaedra once were. Ariadne is a marvel of a novel, a reimagining of Greek mythology with a huge amount of heart and soul, telling the story of two sisters and the men and Gods who defined their existence in so many ways.
I will admit I cried at the end of this book…I simply did not want to leave the vibrant world Jennifer Saint immerses you into, where women live under the often petty will of men and Gods alike, where both wonder and horror reside in equal measure. Where with one impulsive decision born out of love, Ariadne, daughter of Minos, will change her life and that of her sister forever.
The prose is stunning, I often use the words “beautifully written” but never were those words more apt than now. There is an artistry to the writing that is almost cinematic in its resulting immersion of the reader into the story – and the women in this novel are layered, nuanced and embody every woman at some point of their lives.
I loved it. Could easily end up being my no I of 2021 which is strange given its not a book I would have been likely to pick up myself. I have a feeling I should thank the lovely Kate Stephenson and the Wildfire team for making sure I didnt miss out.
I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Saint does next. I’m sure I will be a lifelong fan.