Bringing myth to life, this reimagined story of the Princess of Crete is a riveting tale of love and betrayal.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Why I love it
Associate Editor, Literary Hub
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.
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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Frederick , CO
I was enthralled with this book from the moment I opened it. If you’re a fan of Circe, this is a book you will undoubtedly enjoy! “Come, drink wine with me then, and tell me what it was really like.”
Baltimore , MD
A great adult update to my childhood love of Greek myths! Was familiar with Ariadne’s story but luckily had forgotten the details. I loved Ariadne’s and Phaedra’s POVs equally, a rarity for dual POVs!
Perfect addition to my Greek mythology shelf! I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. Was happy that it was Ariadne’s whole life rather than just her relationship with the Minotaur.
I always love a Greek myth retelling. It did try to stay pretty true to the original source material which made for a somewhat disappointing ending. I wouldn’t say it’s on the level of Madeline Miller
What an incredible story. Some may find it slow because of the style of writing, but Saint truly wrote it like a classic mythological tale. I didn’t know Ariadne’s story before now, but wow! So good.
Most often a woman is not the highlight & focus of a Greek mythological tale, so it was very enjoyable to hear about Ariadne and Phaedra’s stories intertwined with well known heroes, monsters & God’s
I really loved this book! I love Greek Mythology and I love these books that bring their stories to life. It’s a must read if you enjoy Greek Mythology. If you loved Circe, you’ll love this book too!
New York, NY
I feared it would be a weak comparison to Madeline Miller but I’m glad I was wrong. I see them as sister authors who are great at weaving the in-between of mythology. I can’t wait for the next one!
I know it’s also a Greek myth retelling, but it evokes so much of Circe. The nuanced female characters working to do anything within the confines of male-dominated stories is heartbreaking but freeing
If you’re sick of the deep misogyny and two-dimensional female characters depicted in traditional Greek works, Saint just delivered your answer. It’s 2021, and this fresh take allows women to be 3D.
Loved this sensitive and and introspective take on Ariadne’s story + the stories of other ladies in Greek mythology. They are used by both the gods and heroes + rarely do retelling truly confront that
Port Lavaca, TX
I loved the detailed story that it wove into Greek Mythology. The ending was super morbid though, was not prepared for that. I didn’t see the progression coming to where it ended. Overall, read worthy
A fast-moving, beautifully written Greek myth from the perspective of two sisters. Themes of freedom, love, loss and family. I didn’t want this book to end and hope the author is just getting started!
New take on an ancient myth and I’m here for it! I loved the stories of powerful women especially because they were all powerful in their own way. I love that it shines light on the struggles of women
I love novels that bring a unique perspective to Greek mythology. The feminist lens, the foreshadowing of her obsession with Medusa, and the sacrifice at the end are gut wrenching. Couldn’t look away.
Saint Paul, MN
My favorite BOTM so far this year! I was completely transported to the setting of the book and I loved the feminist narrative in the women’s stories; it set it apart from other Greek myth retellings.
East Brunswick, NJ
I really enjoyed this take on Greek mythology and it was interesting to see it from a woman’s perspective. This was a quick read for me and I like that many stories we all know were given more depth.
I chose this because I loved the 2018 BOTY “Circe”. I expected it to be very similar. Although the world is similar, the story is unique enough to set it apart as it’s own work of art. Loved it.
I am always interested in Greek Mythology and I enjoyed the update on Ariadne's story and a retelling from a woman's point of view. I was such a fan of Circe so I was excited to read this book! Enjoy!
Iowa City, IA
The overall gist I got from this book is that all men are trash. This was a tale about sisterhood and how women survived in a male dominated society. It was about love, heartbreak, betrayal and grief.