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Ariadne by Jennifer Saint



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by Jennifer Saint
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Quick take

Bringing myth to life, this reimagined story of the Princess of Crete is a riveting tale of love and betrayal.

Good to know

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    Based on a classic

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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.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicide, suicide ideation, and death of children.

Why I love it

We are never done with the stories of the Greek gods. There are always new threads to pull at every time we revisit an old tale. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of creative reimaginings! If you’re anything like me, you grew up on the adventures of Percy Jackson and you admire the way Madeline Miller culls a new feminist story in Circe. Rejoice, friends: Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is the book for us.

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, comes of age in a gorgeous palace with her younger sister, Phaedra. But in a different sense, the two sisters have grown up in a prison. They live at the mercy of their cruel father, and beneath their home lurks their blood-thirsty brother, the Minotaur, locked in his labyrinth. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, comes to slaughter the beast, Ariadne falls in love and betrays her family to help him, placing her trust in their future together. But it seems the Fates have something else in mind ... What transpires is a story of abandonment, sacrifice, and motherhood.

The book itself reads like a delightful labyrinth of Greek myths. You might encounter characters you’ve heard of before, but in Jennifer Saint’s hands, they feel fully embodied—flesh and blood, with desires and faults all their own. She also centers this story on the women often left behind, letting them weave their own tapestry. But you don’t need to be intimately acquainted with the Greek myths to thoroughly enjoy Ariadne. The book feels like an invitation to sit around the fire and hear these women—so often silenced—finally speak.

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